Building permits and the exercise of liberal professions

Building permits are required according to the National Building Code in the construction of vertical structures. As stated in Section 301, Building Permit of the National Building Code, “No person, firm, or corporation, including any agency or instrument of government, shall erect, construct, alter, repair, move, convert, or demolish any building or structure or cause the same shall be done without first obtaining a building permit for that purpose from the building officer assigned to the place where the building in question is located or where the construction work is to be done.”

And as stated in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Section 301.2 of the National Building Code, permits supplemental to a building permit must be requested and issued by the building official. These include ancillary and ancillary permits.

The accessory permits duly signed and sealed by the corresponding professionals as well as the plans and specifications must accompany the building permit application duly notarized. The building permit is null and void if it is not accompanied by additional permits. Auxiliary permits/forms and other prescribed permits/forms should also be used where applicable. Ancillary permits are: architectural permit, civil/structural permit, electrical permit, mechanical permit, sanitary permit, plumbing permit and electronics permit.

Delays in building permit approvals can be attributed to the application process. More so in some cities and municipalities, the inclusion of some local laws that deal relatively with heritage, economic processing zones, zoning ordinances, tourism potentials, condominium and subdivision requirements, among others, which aggravate the process of slowing down the ease of doing business and to some extent, important too.

Let’s see how certain elements can speed up the ease of doing business. First, take for example, in the application process, there are still many building officials’ offices that have not adopted the automated building permit processing system. They have not yet upgraded the electronic building permit system and have just started the zero contact policy. It will certainly take time to integrate into their way of life at the office of the building officer or at the office of the municipal engineer in the municipalities. The Anti-Bureaucracy Authority (ARTA) coordinated with the Department of Information and Communications the electronic permit processing system to be implemented nationwide to expedite the process.

Second, there is the employment of commissioned or contracted staff in the various offices of the building official. Due to the voluminous paperwork and the scarcity of permanent human resources, the possibility of human contact and corruption may be present, especially on the applicant’s ignorance of the compulsory processing of building permits.

Third, the technical professional takes ownership of the design plans. In the exercise of the profession, the authors of these fields of design, such as architecture, structure, mechanics, electricity, sanitary and plumbing and electronics, should be responsible for their work because they are good professionals in their chosen fields. Therefore, ancillary permits as mentioned in the National Building Code (NBC) and its RIP must be implemented along with the building permit as the NBC is a law. Responsibility and liability for their work rests solely with the design professionals and should not be suggested/questioned by any contract employee or work order employee to be altered. What’s ironic is that design professionals are told what can and can’t be done by a work order employee or a casual not of their equal level.

Fourth, the commitment of government personnel who are not the legitimate equal of design professionals. There are certain offices, like fire personnel, who can chat, comment, and even chat with professional electrical engineers for a high-rise or condominium building that may be out of their league. Technical professionals should be left to fend for themselves, as this is their training and education. This will speed up the process of doing business faster.

Fifth, auxiliary permits and ancillary permits. It works both ways for design and construction professionals. As mentioned earlier, the NBC is the only bible for building constructions. Therefore, building permits become null and void without the ancillary permit as provided for in the RIR of article 111, section 301 of the NBC. The additional permits recognize the exercise of the profession by design professionals and professionals in charge of construction. These auxiliary permits in some building officials offices have not been implemented for some reason. A law is a law. The exercise of the profession must therefore be preserved because design professionals are also responsible for the implementation of their designs in terms of safety, public health and order. The architectural permit, as well as the structural, sanitary, electrical, mechanical and electronic/communications permits as ancillary permits, must be attached to the building permit. And the most important thing is that these additional authorizations are signed by the right professionals. Engineering license for good professional engineers and architectural license for architects.

To quote Section 1723 of the Civil Code of the Philippines as amended, “The architect or engineer who drew up the plans and specifications of a building is liable for damages if, within 15 years of the completion of the structure, it collapses due to a defect in these plans and specifications, or defects in the ground.” Therefore, the exercise of the profession of design professionals and construction managers must be respected because their responsibility is presented in the annexed permits.

These accessory permits and these accessory permits must be attached to the building permits in order to ensure that the good professionals who drew up the plans and specifications are covered by this liability clause. Without the annexed permits, the building permit becomes null and void. The absence of these annexed authorizations can transfer this responsibility to the building agent for negligence on his part. ARTA has already been involved in the processing of permits and it will be interesting to note how the rationalization of building permits nationwide and with uniformity will be carried out by the offices of the building manager.

What people have seen in the past until today is that the building permit and its ancillary permits as defined in the NBC have not been consistently implemented by some officers’ offices of the building when the process is clear as a blue sky in the CNB. People will always look to the building manager whenever something happens to vertical structures as their responsibility.

To be concluded next week.