Tuesday, Jan 21, 2020
HomeIf Your Home Could SpeakThe building permit process, pt. 2: what happens when you apply

The building permit process, pt. 2: what happens when you apply

The phone rings. It’s your architect, telling you he’s ready to apply for the building permit. Finally! That’s the reason you got him in the first place. Everybody warned you about the problem of getting a permit by yourself, so you’re glad he’s ready to apply. He says he’s got a set of plans for you to check before he submits the application, and you pick them up. You eagerly spread them out on the dining table.



There are a lot of drawings. Plans, elevations, sections, plus schedules, details, electrical and plumbing drawings. Why do you need all these for an application? You call your architect with some questions about all these plans and he explains that they’re all needed, both to build the house and to get the permit. Then he explained the application process.

The process, he says, is divided into two parts: planning and building control.



The planning department is charged with making sure projects meet both the zoning and restrictive covenants. Each subdivision approval creates restrictions for every lot. Those restrictions include the kind of project that can be built on the lot, its maximum size, height and setbacks. The planning department first confirms that the project meets those requirements, then prepares it for the Town Planning Committee, a statutory body selected to decide on the final approval of every project. This is the point at which a project is either set on a course for approval or not. Once past this committee, the rest of the process assumes that approval is generally agreed.


Building control

Once approved by the Town Planning Committee, the project is sent to the Building Control Department, where it goes through several stages for technical approval. The Environmental Health section checks for minimum room sizes, toilet facilities, ventilation and the like. The plumbing system and the electrical system are checked for appropriate distribution and safety and the structure is checked for engineering design and public safety. Each department contributes to a set of approval stamps which becomes the “approved set”, a record set used during construction.

Once the project has made it through these stages, which may take several weeks, it is finally approved, and a bill is issued for the permit.


  • Patrick Rahming & Associates is a full service design firm providing architectural, planning and design services throughout The Bahamas and the northern Caribbean. Visit its website at www.pradesigns.com and like its Facebook page. The firm’s mission is to help its clients turn their design problems into completed projects through a process of guided decision-making, responsible environmental advice and expert project administration.


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