While a small handful of local building departments have shuttered their doors and ceased operation, HBAM reported the vast majority have continued to process permits and conduct essential inspections. Photo by iStock
The Home Builders Association of Michigan praised the efforts of local building departments that have found new ways to provide essential services during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Local building departments across the state have found new and innovative ways to issue permits and conduct inspections while protecting the health of the public and their employees,” said Bob Filka, CEO of HBAM. “Housing is among the most important factors in keeping people safe and healthy, and we appreciate the actions building departments have taken to continue to support the residential construction industry toward that goal.”
While a small handful of local building departments have shuttered their doors and ceased operation, HBAM reported the vast majority have continued to process permits and conduct essential inspections.
“The vast majority of building departments still are accepting and processing permits through drop-off boxes and electronic submissions. Additionally, they have been turning to modified or virtual,” Filka said.
“Given what’s going on, it’s not business as usual. These offices are using innovative methods to continue to provide needed governmental services. We would ask local units of government that have ceased providing permitting and inspection services to look to their colleagues around the state and adopt similar strategies to keep important housing infrastructure investments going.”
HBAM also requested, in light of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to self-quarantine, the governor classify the construction and renovation of housing as an “essential activity or infrastructure,” and the “permitting, inspection, construction, transfer and recording of ownership, of housing and anything incidental thereto,” be considered an “essential government service.”
Construction is included as an essential service, but Whitmer’s order lacks clarification on residential construction as critical infrastructure. According to HBAM, this would allow individuals involved in these activities to leave their homes to provide any services or perform any work necessary but still subject them to established preventive requirements, including social distancing and strict hygiene rules.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion across the state on (residential construction), and we’ve had reports of police officers and others halting construction activity that is clearly needed for the health, safety and protection of homeowners and tenants,” Filka said. “We’ve also seen numerous building departments halt permitting and inspection activity. This is disconcerting given a number of leading communities who are using virtual or other safe means to keep these critical government services going."