News and Events

Clarification on Commercial Electronic Plan Review

To ensure the best possible user experience for Commercial Electronic Plan Review, we have decided to postpone the mandatory transition until later this fall. Commercial projects will continue being accepted electronically and on paper. Sign Administration, Electronic Locks, and Residential plans will continue as a paperless process. We are committed to providing customers a fully electronic plan submission process by January 1, 2020.

Posted Date: 
August 06, 2019

Standard Hours for Plan Review Services

In an effort to improve services, all plan review related services on the 2nd and 3rd floors will have standard walk-in hours from 8 am to 3 pm effective Thursday, August 1, 2019. This includes services for One Stop, Planning, Traffic, Health, City Engineers, Floodplain Management, and Storm. All customers that scan their ticket and is in the queue by 3 pm will be seen the same day. Transfers to other plan review services will stop at 3:30 pm.

In addition, Code Enforcement’s permit counter on the 1st floor will standardize their service times from 8 am to 4:30 pm. All tickets pulled or transferred by 4:30 pm will be seen the same day. The service hours at the satellite office hours will remain the same.

Reducing walk-in hours will provide time to return phone calls, respond to emails, and hold staff meetings and trainings. We appreciate your understanding as we find the right balance of service hours to respond effectively to all customers.

Posted Date: 
August 1, 2019

Walk-in Service Coming Soon for Storm Drainage Projects

The Office of the City Engineer has heard your feedback and is pleased to offer walk-in service for storm drainage projects beginning Monday, August 5, 2019. Walk-in service will be available from 8 am to 3 pm on Monday’s and Wednesday’s.

To qualify for walk-in service, a project must have completed one full review cycle and processed out of the system with rejection comments by the Storm Drainage (360) group. A response sheet must be provided with the plans if the engineer of record is not present at the walk-in. The response sheet should address each comment and reference the sheet number or location in which the corrections may be found. Only one plan will be reviewed per ticket or customer. The plan reviewer reserves the right to turn down walk-in service if the project does not meet the walk-in guidelines.

Posted Date: 
August 5, 2019

Detention Requirements within the Central Business District

Houston Public Works has issued the following memorandum:

The purpose of this memorandum is to clarify the application of Chapter 9 Stormwater Design Requirements of the City of Houston Public Works Infrastructure Design Manual (IDM), dated September 2018, specifically within the Central Business District.

The CBD is defined in Chapter 42, Code of Ordinances of the City of Houston, as the land area within Interstate Highways 10, 45, and 59. The amount of the impervious cover in the CBD has not changed significantly over the past 50 years. Sheetflow runoff within the CBD has not contributed to increased flooding over the past 50 years. Additionally, the stormwater conveyance system throughout the CBD has been systematically improved over the last two decades to address this development.

Based on these circumstances, it is the policy of the City of Houston Public Works to not require on-site or off-site detention for properties lying within the boundaries of the CBD. It is required, where applicable, to include Low Impact Development techniques as stated in the IDM Chapter 13 for any developments within the CBD.

Posted Date: 
June 07, 2019

Residential Plan Review to Go Paperless on April 1

Starting Monday, April 1, 2019, the review of new single-family residences will transition to 100 percent electronic submittals. Going digital means no longer having to drive to downtown and wait in long lines for permits or plan reviews. The electronic process will allow you to submit plans anytime, anywhere, including nights and weekends. Please note that we will continue to offer plan review services for minor residential projects through our One-stop program.

To ensure our customers are prepared for this change, we will host free workshops guiding you through the electronic process. To register for a workshop, please visit our eServices page. In addition, a step-by-step user guide is available on that page under the Resources section.

We want to assure you that we are here to support you in this transition. For questions, please contact the Residential Plan Review group at 832-394-8820 or via email at [email protected].

Posted Date: 
April 1, 2019

Office of the City Engineer to No Longer Review Traffic Control Plans

Effective immediately, the Office of the City Engineer will no longer review traffic control plans associated with projects reviewed by OCE.

A mobility permit must be secured before obstructing a public roadway or public sidewalk. Traffic control plans are reviewed during the approval process of the mobility permit. This change avoids duplicate review of traffic control plans by OCE. Moving forward OCE will require all plans to include Traffic Construction Notes, which align with Chapter 15 of the Infrastructure Design Manual.

The OCE is making this change to speed up reviews and welcomes your feedback on this new process.

Posted Date: 
March 04, 2019

Clarification on Sidewalk Requirements

The City Engineer has issued the following policy on sidewalk requirements:

Prior practices of granting variances left it unclear how to handle certain situations and created more confusion. The Office of the City Engineer has been working with the City Attorney’s Office to determine the best course of action. Developing a simple process to identify when a sidewalk is required and eliminating the burden of requesting a variance is a better path forward for the time being.

Effective immediately, sidewalks will be required:

  • Along all major thoroughfares regardless of development type,
  • Along all streets abutting commercial and multi-family developments regardless of the street type,
  • Along any street abutting a single family residential property if the property meets all the following criteria:
    • 1. It is a single-family lot, or part of a single family development,
    • 2. The street in front of the property is concreate or asphalt, curb and gutter design or roadside ditch with a minimum of 5
          feet clearance between the property line and the high bank of the ditch, and,
    • 3. There is a sidewalk on either side of the property, or the property has or had a sidewalk prior to the redevelopment of
          the lot.

Applications for sidewalk variances or exceptions are no longer required. If an applicant believes sidewalks are required under this policy, but do not agree with the requirement, they will have to meet with the City Engineer and present a case for variance under the general authority of the City Engineer. The OCE and CA will be working together to develop an ordinance to clearly spell out sidewalk requirements and exceptions. In the meantime, the OCE will follow is policy.

Posted Date: 
February 21, 2019

Guidance on Elevating Air Conditioner Systems in the Floodplain

The City Engineer has provided the following guidance regarding the elevation of air conditioner systems in the regulated floodplain:

The replacement of any equipment should be at the highest elevation possible within reason. However, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Chapter 19 of the City of Houston Code of Ordinances only requires the elevation of equipment to the regulatory elevations when the value of that work exceeds 50% of the structure. Based on that condition, no portion of the system is required to be placed at a regulatory elevation for single-family situations where only the air conditioning system is being replaced. Multi-family and commercial situations that are in the regulated floodplain will be required to elevate the equipment to the regulatory elevation for health and safety reasons.

Currently the regulatory elevation is the 500-year elevation plus two (2) feet.

For questions, please contact the Floodplain Management Office at [email protected] or at 832-394-8854.

Posted Date: 
October 26, 2018

Amended Floodplain Ordinance Effective September 1

Chapter 19 and approved changes to Design Standards (Chapters 9 and 13 of the Infrastructure Design Manual and Building Code) will become effective September 1, 2018. Any administratively complete plans submitted prior September 1, 2018 will be reviewed based on the 2008 Chapter 19 and the 2017 Design Standards. Any plans that are submitted prior to September 1, 2018, that are not administratively complete, or plans submitted on or after September 1, 2018, will be reviewed under the 2018 Chapter 19 and Design Standards.

Only the scope of work included in plans submitted or approved prior to September 1, 2018, may proceed under the provisions of the 2008 Chapter 19 and the 2017 Design Standards. Changes to previously approved plans will be reviewed as outlined above. 

Chapter 19
Grading and site improvements included in administratively complete site work plans submitted or approved before September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2008 Chapter 19. Any plans for buildings submitted on or after September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2018 Chapter 19.
In order for buildings to be reviewed under the 2008 Chapter 19, administratively complete building plans must be submitted before September 1, 2018. That is, for a building in the 100-year or 500-year floodplain to be built below the 500 year flood elevation plus 2 feet, full building (not just foundation) plans must be submitted prior to September 1, 2018.

Detention Requirements (Chapter 9 and 13 of IDM)
For administratively complete redevelopment plans submitted prior to September 1, 2018, required detention will be calculated based on the 2017 Chapter 9 and 13 of the Infrastructure Design Manual (IDM). Assuming the changes to Chapter 9 and 13 of the IDM are approved, for plans submitted on or after September 1, 2018, required detention will be calculated based on the 2018 Chapter 9 and 13 of the IDM. Detention requirements may be addressed in site work plans. Any proposed buildings may be shown on site work plans as impervious cover and as part of the detention calculations, but building plans do not have to be submitted.

Drainage Plan for Plat
Drainage plans for plat submitted prior to September 1, 2018, will be reviewed and approved based on the 2008 Chapter 19 and 2017 IDM. However, plans submitted for such a development on or after September 1, 2018 will be reviewed, permitted and constructed based on the 2018 Chapter 19 and Design Standards, regardless of the date of drainage plan for plat submittal.

Administratively Complete Plan Submittal

Residential plan submittals are considered to be administratively complete when the Houston Permitting Center is in receipt of all required drawings, documents, worksheets and forms as outlined on the Residential Pre-requisite Checklist (Form CE-1301).

Commercial plan submittals are considered to be administratively complete when the Houston Permitting Center is in receipt of all required drawings, documents, worksheets and forms as outlined on the Commercial Pre-requisite Checklist (Form CE-1105).

Note: the pre-requisite checklists will be updated on September 1, 2018 to reflect the new requirements.

Additional Resources

For questions, please contact Floodplain Management Office at [email protected] or 832-394-8854.    

Posted Date: 
August 29, 2018

Impact Fee Increase - Effective July 1, 2018

NEW! Impact Fee Increase - Effective July 1, 2018
The Water Impact Fee will increase to $706.83 per service unit. No change will be made to the Wastewater Impact Fee. All applications received by the close of business day Monday, June 30, 2018 will be processed under the current rates of $1,199.11 per service unit for wastewater and $626.50 per service unit for water.

Posted Date: 
July 05, 2018


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