SURREY, a.C. – The city of Surrey reached new highs for building permit values while reigning in times of waiting for permits for single-family homes. Total construction value exceeded $ 2.29 billion last year, 33% more than the previous record total of $ 1.52 billion since 2018.
In 2019, $ 1.57 billion of construction value came from residential permits which resulted in 6,632 new homes to be built in Surrey.
“Economic confidence in Surrey has reached new goals and breaking the $ 2 billion in building permits is unexplored territory for our city,” Mayor Doug McCallum said in a press release. “The livability, affordability and recreational facilities offered by Surrey have established this city as a place where you can grow your family or grow your business. With the new Surrey SkyTrain extension on the horizon and the Council’s smart development initiatives, Surrey will be the primary destination for new residents and businesses for years to come. “
While in 2019 the Planning and Development Department issued a total of 16,498 building, hydraulic and electrical permits, staff were able to reduce waiting times for single-family homes to 10 weeks by the end of the year.
“We are always working to reduce waiting times, but we have fallen behind,” said Rémi Dubé, head of the city’s construction division.
By comparison, the waiting time for a single-family home permit peaked at 25 weeks in 2017. To counter this, the department changed staff recruitment methods, organized applications, and finalized some reviews and reports. .
With staff, the department added capacity, reallocated some employees, and got the go-ahead to work overtime to catch up.
The city also began evaluating permits by separating new subdivision applications from demolition reconstruction and filling the lot projects.
“Subdivisions are much easier to manage because lots have services,” explained Dubé. “The rankings are set and there are fewer reviews to do. Back-up demolition reconstructions require much more work and take longer. Now that time has been incorporated into our process. “
The department is also digitizing many of its application processes. Many types of plumbing systems allow online applications that allow for electrical authorization needs. Those requesting tree inspections can send a photo of the city in advance to solve problems to prevent the system from being slowed down with failed inspections.
“We had to do it gradually, otherwise everything stops,”
2020 will see the department work towards the digitization of building permits for single-family homes.
Their solution is currently in beta testing with numerous frequent designers in the city.
“It’s not fully digital yet, but we expect that by the end of the summer it will be implemented so that everyone can make single-family permits for subdivisions and then we’ll start piloting it for filling projects,” said Dubé.
The city will also make an effort on the commercial and industrial side with the tenant improvement process. This includes evaluating the simplest designs along one route and the more complex ones in another.
A big help in improving processes has been the city’s investment in data mining technology in recent years.
“It helps us so we can really keep track of where the projects are, see what the department’s performance is and see how long it takes to get to the construction,” said Dubé.
He explained that while the industry would always like to see processes go even faster, he believes making the processes more predictable is a big win.
“I think the industry always wants it to be a little faster, but a lot of it is able to be ahead of time and say how long it will be,” he said. “This does a lot so you can align your work accordingly. If you leave millions of services to your site, you want to be able to build and then sell. This predictability helps a lot. ”