Building Departments Face Budget Crisis -Contract Providers Offer a Solution

Safebuilt.comLoveland, Colorado (RUSHPRNEWS) 12/2/08 – The causes are widely known. Sub-prime mortgages, foreclosures, an unstable stock market, low consumer confidence, increased construction costs and ever-increasing employee costs — all creating stagnant building activity and a building department budget that is upside-down.

Building departments nationwide are being forced to lay off staff and reduce the level of service they can offer. A simple Google search will net dozens, if not hundreds, of examples nationwide. With public safety as the primary goal for any building department, the stakes are high.

With no money to support the ongoing costs of employees, building departments are shrinking. The City of Atlanta, in spite of indications of market stabilization, has had to eliminate 1,000 positions, affecting nearly 200 people. Smaller communities don’t have enough work to keep a staff of one or two professionals busy.

Out of a desire to balance the budget, service can easily suffer. In Oregon, the approval of Amendment 63, which was ultimately defeated, would have provided a minimum level at which a building permit is required. While measures such as this one address the issue of reduced manpower, will they compromise the safety of residents and public servants into the future? Departments are being forced to reduce expenses, but at what cost?

There is good news. In the current economic climate, contract building department providers, sometimes referred to as third-party providers, are growing in popularity. SAFEbuilt is one such provider that provides full-service building department services as well as supplemental plan review, project support and building code inspections for public agencies.

A contract provider offers a sustainable solution during times of budget shortfalls and peak building windows. By covering the cost of expert staff, what were once fixed costs become variable costs that fluctuate appropriately with the building volume.

SAFEbuilt offers local governments benefits including:
• Full-support or supplemental building department services help keep a focus on service levels and public safety during slow and busy times
• Services are paid for from permit fees, so costs never exceed revenues
• A constant and consistent outside labor pool eliminates emotional and financial costs of hiring and firing to match economic conditions
• A depth of resources nationwide guarantees mobile teams for special or unpredictable short-term projects, including natural disasters

“Over the past five years, SAFEbuilt has been able to provide consistent and predictable services to a new and growing city of more than 100,000 residents. SAFEbuilt allowed the City of Centennial to start-up its building department without a glitch, providing qualified, professional staff with the experience and expertise on how to operate an efficient and effective building department,” says Wayne Reed, Director of Planning and Development, City of Centennial, Colorado.

SAFEbuilt has 17 offices, more than 80 employees and provides contract building department services to more than 90 public agencies in Washington, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida. New location opportunities are being explored.

In 2007, SAFEbuilt supported over $1.2 billion in residential and commercial building valuations, performed 4,100 plan reviews and approximately 68,000 inspections.

For more information about SAFEbuilt and contract providers, a white paper is available for download at www.SAFEbuilt.com. Or you can email Scott.Martin@SAFEbuilt.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Scott Martin
SAFEbuilt, Inc.
3755 Precision Drive, Suite 140
Loveland, Colorado 80538
Scott.Martin@SAFEbuilt.com
970-292-2206