Murphy’s Law Expediting the Building Permitting Process in New Jersey
On January 5, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law bill A573 which amends the Uniform Construction Code by codifying the requirement that townships complete building inspections within three business days of request by the developer. This bill is applauded by developers and builders for pushing the completion of building and renovation projects over the finish line in a timelier manner.
Delays in governmental inspections of newly developed and improved (renovated) commercial and residential properties have long been a source of contention with business associations and building labor unions. Registering for and acquiring a building permit can often be a long and expensive affair. The lack of available employees and delays in processing reports have accordingly delayed the completion of development projects by weeks or even months.
Delays are not only aggravating, but costly. Quicker inspections mean that homes and commercial buildings may be sold at a faster rate, thus stimulating economic development. Additionally, a more expeditious construction inspection process will enable businesses in New Jersey to open their doors and serve their communities faster. Finally, delays in inspections cause towns and cities to miss out on tax revenues that result from completed projects.
The new bill encourages municipalities to contract with private inspection companies (through a more straightforward bidding process) or enter into shared agreements with neighboring boroughs (though the final issuance of a certificate of occupancy will continue to come from local township officials). If a municipality fails to meet the three-business day timeline, the developer may pay for a private inspection and then get reimbursed for any excess costs paid to the third-party inspector over and above what it would have cost had the inspection been completed by the local township. Municipalities could also be fined for failing to meet the deadline.
The State of New Jersey pledges not to sacrifice safety as it expedites the completion of projects. It is currently considering other important steps to improve development and eliminate barriers that lengthen the costly construction process such as electronic permitting.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.