February 7, 2013
|The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners appoints the Building-Development Commission (BDC) as an advisory board to Code Enforcement. Membership includes representation from the design, construction and development communities, as well as the public. Check out www.meckpermit.com and go to "About Us" for more information. Contact your representative if you have any specific issues you would like the BDC to consider.
The following is a brief summary of significant matters impacting the design and construction community on which the Building-Development Commission and the Code Enforcement Department have focused from October 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012. Further details on each of these follow:
- Department gains highest ISO commercial grade of "one"
- BOCC approves 21 added positions
- Racking permit process discussion
- Revisions to inspections auto-notification
1. Department gains Insurance Services Office (ISO) highest commercial grade of “one”
On December 26, the Department received confirmation from ISO on our final ISO-BCEGS audit scores; a commercial score of “one” and a residential score of “two” (with “one” being the best possible score). With our expectations tempered by the ravages of the recession and a 46% cut in staff, commercial services retaining our “one” score, while also improving our residential services score from “four” to “two”, far exceeds Department hopes. This is owed to a lot of hard work by management and line staff in Fy12 to meet ISO standards and also represents ISO’s recognition of Mecklenburg’s Plan Review Matrix automated management tool. Mecklenburg County Code Enforcement is one of a very few authorities across the US with an ISO score of “one”, which benefits the local business community greatly by lowering insurance rates.
2. BOCC approves added positions
After monitoring the local economy for 6 months, and documenting the impact on the Departments workload, the Department presented to the BDC in the November 19 meeting, emphasizing the following:
- Permits issued have increased at least 7% above the same time period in FY12.
- Inspection service demand has increased more than 15% above same time period in FY12.
- Commercial plan review applications include more large projects, driving demand for plan review hours to a level 35% above same time period in FY12.
- Consequently we proposed adding 21 positions.
The BDC voted unanimously in support of the proposal. On 12/4/12 the BOCC approved adding these positions;
- In the office, 3 commercial plans examiners, 2 inspector-controller positions, and 1 project coordinator (plans review facilitator).
- In the field, 9 inspectors, 2 inspection supervisors, and 4 inspector positions-IBA focused.
- The Department is currently in the process of interviewing to fill the new positions.
3. Racking permit process discussion
Last fall, the BDC requested the Department work with customers to review the Racking permitting process, with a goal to identify value added steps while still achieving. A meeting was held with 6 industry reps on October 10, 2012, resulting in specific requests to a) identify any possible process improvements, b) compress the process, and c) review the appropriateness of requisite timelines for inspections, plan review and Special Inspections. A Department Management team worked into November, reviewing the process, clarifying the Appendix B and refining related SI steps. The final Department response included the following features:
- We provided an Appendix B guide on the web site with critical information that must be completed to help customers understand which information is required on the form and which areas may not be applicable to these specific types of projects.
- A web page to help clarify the work flow on commercial racking system projects, including an outline of permitting paths and service options.
- Creation of a quick tips box, addressing key time saving points in plan review and inspections of which customers should be aware, especially on existing building sites.
- Commercial Racking P&I instructions to add another section dealing with existing buildings (also noting process improvement steps added to help in plan review and inspections).
- Developing a powerpoint presentation on key racking system code compliance issues, for use both on meckpermit.com and as a teaching aid to elevate customer awareness, especially on existing buildings and new construction.
- Created a flow chart that will help the general public have a better understanding of the general process and time line for their projects.
On December 5th, the Department hosted a brown bag lunch introducing the above changes to the design and construction industry. A second session was added to accommodate a total of over 80 industry members who RSVP’d to the announcement.
4. Revisions to inspections auto-notification
Every two years the County retains Customer Service Solutions to perform a customer survey among Code Enforcement customers. Results from the CSS 2012 survey were discussed with the BDC in their May meeting. The BDC requested the Department engage customers on details of the report. As one part of that work, the Department reconvened members of the Code Compliance Task Force (CCTF) to study the auto-notification tool. CCTF members advocated for revising the purpose of program from notice that “I’m headed your way” (15 minute goal) to “You are the next up after my current inspection” (goal of 1 hour +/-), and subsequently recommended the following significant changes.
- contractor verification that account is setup,
- contractor option/ability to tailor notification contacts by permit,
- designation of “homeowner waiting” H1-H2 status, and
- Inspector sees notice reminder button; can tell in computer notice sent, with confirmation.
All related programming was completed and placed in service immediately after confirming with the BDC in their November 19 meeting. Since that time, staff has pursued the following PR strategy;
- A focused effort on getting the word on this change out to customers by soliciting presentation opportunities (REBIC/HBA/NARI members, trade associations, et al) and noting in Consistency meetings.
- When software availability supports, we will also work on a Department Youtube style video on both auto notification and our temporary utility program.
Industry business groups interested in a presentation on the auto-notification changes should contact either Rebecca Simcox (704-336-3838) or Kathleen Batey (704-336-3545).