New Web Portal to Increase Permitting Process Accessibility
HOUSTON - Houston City Council approved a contract at its Feb. 8 meeting for website development services that will transform the way residents, businesses and the building community navigate the City of Houston’s permitting process.
The new Houston Permitting Center website, estimated to launch in one year, will feature a wizard that automatically customizes permitting requirements based on answers to a series of questions provided by the customer. The dynamic decision engine powering the wizard will quickly exclude irrelevant permit categories, ensuring a personalized user experience. The new website will also consolidate each department's permitting pages and repackage the information in a way that is functional to the customer based on needs – i.e. opening a business and remodeling a house. Other functions of the enhanced online experience will include comprehensive customer support, keyword search, simple online application forms and electronic signatures.
Following the implementation of improvements such as electronic plan review, online appointment scheduling and mobile queuing, the website redesign is the latest step in a continuous effort to streamline the City’s permitting process and improve customer service.
The $4.1 million contract with Woolpert, Inc. includes initial research, website design, content management system development, wizard configuration and system maintenance over a three-year period, with two optional one-year renewals.
“Providing the best customer service we can to help the community is part of our Mission, Vision and Values. This new tool will be a great resource to help our building partners better navigate the multi-departmental permitting process,” said Dale Rudick, Director of the Department of Public Works & Engineering, which manages the Houston Permitting Center.
Individuals with residential, business or construction permit questions are encouraged to email email@example.com or call 832-394-9000.
About the Houston Permitting Center
With a focus on customer service and the implementation of useful communication and information technologies, the Houston Permitting Center helps customers achieve their goals while complying with the City’s regulations. Located at 1002 Washington Ave., the Houston Permitting Center was established in 2011 as the first one-stop center of its kind for a major municipality in the United States. Ninety percent of all permits, licenses and registrations issued by the City—more than 600 types—are obtained at the Houston Permitting Center through 40 business units across seven departments: Administration & Regulatory Affairs, Houston Health Department, Houston Airport System, Houston Fire Department, Houston Police Department, Planning & Development Department, and the Department of Public Works & Engineering. For more information, visit houstonpermittingcenter.org or follow the Houston Permitting Center on Facebook and Twitter.
Permitting assistance to residents impacted by the recent floods are now available through a Mobile Permitting Center that will be stationed in various locations around the city over the next eight weeks.
A 41-foot-long mobile command center will serve as the Mobile Permitting Center and be staffed by representatives from the Floodplain Management Office and Building Code Enforcement Branch to answer questions and issue many types of permits required to repair or restore structures back to pre-flood condition. This Mobile Permitting Center is one way the City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering through the Houston Permitting Center is serving city residents impacted by the recent flood.
Locations of the Mobile Permitting Center will vary. The latest information on the location of the mobile service will be posted on several websites, including houstonrecovers.org and houstonpermittingcenter.org, as well as on social media sites for the Houston Permitting Center (Twitter: @COHPermits and Facebook: facebook.com/COHPermits).
The locations for the week of May 3 through May 6 are as follows:
Tuesday, May 3 & Wednesday, May 4 – 10 AM to 7 PM: Inwood Forest Country Club, 7603 Antoine Drive, Houston, Texas 77088
Thursday, May 5 & Friday, May 6 – 10 AM to 7 PM: Meyerland Community Improvement Association, 4999 W. Bellfort, Houston, Texas 77035
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - MOBILE PERMITTING CENTER
What services are provided at the mobile permitting center?
The Floodplain Management Office services include:
Building Code Enforcement services includes:
The mobile unit can only sell permits for repairing or restoring a structure back to its pre-flood condition. Plans that will increase the square footage of the home or constitute a remodel must be submitted through the traditional plan review process at the Houston Permitting Center, 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston.
How do residents check-in to receive services at the mobile permitting center?
A check-in station is located outside of the mobile center. During check-in, staff will perform an initial review to answer questions and ensure the information to be submitted is complete.
Payments via credit/debit card (Visa, Discover and MasterCard only) and electronic check can be completed via the online iPermits system. Physical payments will not be accepted (i.e. cash, written checks).
What should customers bring?
To receive a Floodplain Development Permit for repairs from flood damage, customers must bring their repair cost information, structure market valuation, and/or elevation certificate. For more details, visit https://www.publicworks.houstontx.gov/notices/flood-damage-repair.html.
For building permits, customers may need Building Permit Application (Form 1263) and either a Residential Repair Spec List (Form 1059) or Commercial Repair Check List (Form 1112). For faster service, it is advised to download these forms and fill them out prior to visiting the mobile permitting center. To download the forms, visit https://www.houstonpermittingcenter.org/code-enforcement/publications.html. Blank forms will also be available at the mobile permitting center and assistance will be available.
Notary services will be available for forms that require a notarized signature. A government issued ID is required to have a form notarized.
The Building Code Enforcement Branch is currently reviewing the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code and the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 for adoption in 2016.
As part of the process, to ensure there is an appropriate vehicle for input from all interested persons and organizations, you are invited to submit proposals for code change amendments in writing. The Energy Code Change Proposal comment period is open until May 12, 2016. Please complete the Code Change Proposal Form before the above date to be reviewed for inclusion in the updated code amendments. Proposed amendments need to be technically justified with an explanation indicating whether it increases safety, maintains a reasonable level of safety in a cost effective manner, or addresses unique local conditions.
Proposals must be submitted by using one of the forms below:
City of Houston Code of Ordinances Section 1-11 Has Been Revised (Change in Requirement for Notarized Affidavit)
On Wednesday, September 11, 2013, the City Council approved an ordinance amending Section 1-11 of the Code of Ordinances, which replaces the current “Notarized Affidavit” requirement with a new “Unsworn Declaration” to be filed in connection with all applications for a permit, license, or certificate.
The ordinance revision does not apply to the following:
Management at the Permitting Center is working together to build an implementation plan for the revised ordinance. More information will be provided soon.
If you have any questions regarding this change, please call us at 832.394.9000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What is Chapter 1-11?
a. Chapter 1-11 is a section in the Code of Ordinances which required all permit, license, or certificate applicants to submit a sworn affidavit acknowledging responsibility to comply with all deed restrictions and laws, regulations or ordinances in connection with the requested license, permit, or certificate.
2. Why change Chapter 1-11?
a. Chapter 1-11 required the affidavit to be notarized, and the original document submitted with the permit, license, or certificate application. This requirement added paperwork and steps to the permitting process with no added value to administrative staff or the applicant. The requirement also prevents online permitting.
3. What is the statutory authority regarding the change?
a.Section 132.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, amended in the 82nd Legislative Session (2011), provides that unsworn declarations may now be used in lieu of an affidavit.
4. What is an unsworn declaration?
a.An unsworn declaration is a declaration made in writing and subscribed by the person making the declaration as true under penalty of perjury.
5. What are the penalties for making a false declaration?
a.Unsworn declarations have the same enforcement mechanisms and penalties as the current notarized affidavits-- a Class A misdemeanor. A person commits perjury if a false declaration was made with the intent to deceive and with knowledge of the statement’s meaning.
Effective Monday, December 2, 2013 all Long Form applications must be submitted online via I-Permits at http://houstonpermittingcenter.org/city-of-houston-permits/online-permits.html. Try submitting an online application today! Computer stations are available on the 1st floor. If you need assistance creating a Non-Licensed User account in I-Permits, please visit the Information Desk. To view a video on how to fill out an online application, please visit:
If submitting a Short Form application, please continue to see Impact Fee Administration on the 3rd floor by pulling a W600 ticket.
The Houston Permitting Center (HPC) is preparing to pilot two new services designed to simplify your visits and save you time. The new services will be unveiled over a four week period beginning on July 1, 2013.
Scheduled Appointments – Starting Monday July 1st, appointments may be scheduled online for the following services:
Auto Dealers Detail will offer appointments up to 28 days in advance for new wrecker licenses, and for the renewal or transfer of wrecker licenses. Auto Dealers Detail will transition the wrecker license service from a walk-in based service to an appointments-only service. The change will become effective September 01.
Floodplain Management Office will transition the services listed above from a walk-in-based service to an appointments-only service effective Monday, July 8.
Open Records appointments for viewing documents can be scheduled up to 2-weeks in advance, while appointments picking-up documents can be scheduled up to 1-week in advance.
A phone number and email address is required to use the online scheduler. If you do not have either of these items, appointments may still be scheduled in person at the HPC or over the phone by calling the service directly. Please see the Visiting the HPC page for a list of phone numbers.
Text Message Notice – Starting Monday July 22nd, at the check-in kiosk, you will have the option of sign up to receive a text message that will indicate your position in line, giving you the ability to do other things at the HPC while waiting for your turn.
Note: To ensure the accuracy of this new service, the timestamp used to determine the order in which customers are called will be changing. Starting Monday July 1st, ticketed customers will be called in the order by which their tickets are scanned at the point of service. Currently, ticketed customers are called in the order by which their tickets are issued at the check-in kiosk.
For questions regarding these new services please call us at 832-394-9000 or email us at email@example.com.
Beginning Monday July 7, 2014, appointments may be scheduled online for Code Enforcement’s Plan Review section. Scheduled appointments will be available for the discussion of plan review project comments only. A phone number and email address is required to use the online scheduler. If you do not have either of these items, appointments may still be scheduled in person at the HPC or over the phone by calling the service directly. Please note that the design professional responsible for the respective plans must attend the scheduled appointment, otherwise the appointment is subject to cancellation.
All other Plan Review services will continue to be walk-in services on a first-come-first-served basis.
For questions regarding this expansion of services, please contact us at 832.394.9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Xerox machine located in the main lobby can now do more than just make copies. Customers can send files for printing directly to the machine through our new Mobile Print feature. Simply attach files to an email and send it to PWEmobileprint@houstontx.gov.* As long as your device can send an email, you can access Mobile Print. There are no limits to the number of files you can print. However, unprinted files are stored for 24 hours from the time of receipt before they are automatically deleted. The cost to print is $0.25 per page (single-sided and black & white only).
For full instructions on how to use Mobile Print please see the (Mobile Print Instructions). Should you need assistance with Mobile Print, please see our staff at the Information Desk.
*Accepted file formats include: .doc, .docm, .docx, .eml, .gif, .jpeg, .jpg, .pdf, .png, .ppt, .pptm, .pptx, .rtf, .tif, .tiff, .txt, .xls, .xlsm, and .xlsx.
On Friday, June 5, 2015, Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s (HPARD) Permits and Reservations Office will stop services at the Houston Permitting Center at 12:00pm (noon) and begin their relocation to Gragg building. All phone calls, faxes, emails, and permit transactions will be unavailable during the relocation phase. Requests for permits and reservations can still be made online at https://activenet011.active.com/houstonparks/ during the relocation.
HPARD’s Permits and Reservations Office will resume services at their new location at 2999 South Wayside on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 8:00am. All phone numbers will remain the same.
If you have any questions about the relocation, please contact HPARD Permits and Reservations Office at 832.394.8804 or HPARD’s main line at 832.395.7000.
Important Notice Regarding Storm Water and Wastewater Letters of Availability
We are pleased to announce that the processing time of Storm Water and Wastewater Capacity Reservation Applications has been decreased to 2 - 3 weeks.
As a result, beginning on October 15, 2015, Letters of Availability will be once again become a required prerequisite item as specified on the Prerequisite Checklist (Form CE- 1105) when submitting commercial plans.
Photocopies of the Availability Letters or Short Forms, whichever are applicable to the project, will need to be attached to the front of each set of plans submitted.
For questions or further assistance regarding this notice, please contact the Commercial Plan Review Section at 832-394-8810.