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The Construction Permit

A building permit system is a set of laws and procedures that all building practitioners, such as builders, architects, specialized design consultants, and contractors, have to abide by when engaging in the construction of a new building or in the modification of an existing building that has structural implications.

The main objective of building permits is to ensure the habitability and safety of the community. This has important implications for policy-makers who need to strike the right balance between the cost and checks imposed on industry and the real benefits in safety and quality of neighbourhoods.

The building permit process also plays a critical “gate-keeper” role in protecting a range of other public goods such as preventing construction close to airports, and protecting the environment or preventing potentially harmful industries from locating in residential areas. When this “gate-keeper” function is not carefully managed and coordinated with the relevant authorities, an insurmountable bureaucracy may emerge, which is likely to discourage investment, and increase the level of informality. Carefully managing the “gate-keeper” role is an important factor in the success of building permit reforms.

Best practice reform experience consistently shows that new policy objectives, including those going beyond the improvement of public safety, can be combined with effective red tape reduction programs, and more efficient and streamlined processes.