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Building Development Commission Quarterly Bulletin
April 25, 2014 
The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners appoints the Building-Development Commission (BDC) as an advisory board to Code Enforcement. Membership includes representation from the design, construction and development communities, as well as the public. Check out www.meckpermit.com and go to "About Us" for more information. Contact your representative if you have any specific issues you would like the BDC to consider. 

The following is a brief summary of significant matters impacting the design and construction community on which the Building-Development Commission and the Code Enforcement Department have focused from January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014. Further details on each of these follow: 

  • CA Web Search Engine Available
  • Customer Service Center Design Project Work
  • BDC Select Committee To Meet With Industry
  • IRT Subcommittee Recommendation to Add Inspector Positions

1. CA Web Search Engine Available

This project began with a request to web search current Building-Electrical-Mechanical-Plumbing (BEMP) interpretations.  The Code Administrators developed a solution, initially presenting to the BDC in Spring of 2013, showing the current interpretation search tool.  BDC members requested the ability to search both current and archives (for historical reference comparison), but extending the search to archives became a significant challenge, running into several hurdles which were finally resolved by County technology staff.  In the fall of 2013, The Code Administrators presented a solution addressing both current and archival interpretation search.  The BDC accepted that strategy.  The CA Interpretation Search Engine tool is now available for customer use and may be found by clicking on this link.  

 

2. Customer Service Center Design Project Work

In October of 2013, the BDC and Department agreed to initiate a project on process design, focusing on the infrequent or novice customer, who may have trouble working inside one of the most high tech and complicated permitting and inspection (P&I) processes in the country.  The BDC and Department envision this effort creating a Customer Service Center (CSC) for the 5-7% of customers finding our web services difficult to work with.  Using BDC referrals, the Department organized a focus group and held meetings on January 7th, January 22nd, February 19th, March 19th and April 23rd; identifying a specific set of problems and possible fixes for walk in customers, phone in customers or infrequent users of internet services.  As part of this work, the Department conducted a survey of customers visiting the lobby and benchmarked with six (6) other authorities across the continent on their use of customer service centers, delivering summaries of both to the focus group.  The Department recently confirmed a CSC design criteria grid with the focus group, along with a high level bubble diagram concept of "How the CSC Might Work", and is wrapping up the project by researching technology tools available to aid in advancing the CSC design concept, in the May 20th BDC meeting.

 

3. BDC Select Committee To Meet With Industry

On February 18th, the BDC voted to create a Select Committee to work with the Department and industry members at large, in reviewing the issues identified in the Chamber, Real Estate & Building Industry Coalition (REBIC) and Greater Charlotte Apartment Association (GCAA) letters received by the County on February 3rd, 2014.  At this date, the following appointments have been made to participate in the meeting:  BDC - 6 members, Chamber - 3 designees, GCAA - 2 designees, REBIC - 1 designee, NARI - 1 designee.  The Department retained an outside contractor to facilitate the discussion and the following meeting objectives have been identified:

  1. Review process issues raised in 3 letters sent to the County by the Chamber, REBIC & GCAA.
  2. Develop a common understanding of the specifics of each issue and generate possible solutions to address each.
  3. Provide the BDC with a prioritized list of core issues, suggested solutions and a recommended process for addressing these.

The meeting is currently scheduled for May 6th, 2014 from 1 - 4 p.m. at the Hal Marshall Center, 700 N. Tryon Street.  Other interested design and construction industry members are welcome to attend.

 

4. Inspection Response Time (IRT) Subcommittee Recommendation to Add Inspectors

The BDC and Department concur on a goal of performing 85-90% of all inspections within the first 24 hours they are scheduled to be performed (that is 90% of inspections scheduled for a day starting at 7:00 a.m., will be completed by 6:59 a.m. the next morning).  In 2004, the Department introduced a report to measure performance on that goal and used it through fall 2012 when comparison to other Posse reports questioned the accuracy of the IRT report.  The Department reviewed the issue with the BDC in November 2012 and all agreed to create a special subcommittee to investigate the issue further; with the BDC challenging the subcommittee to specifically answer three questions (see below).  The subcommittee's work was delayed while a Posse upgrade and related IRT report redesign was completed.  On January 24, 2014, the Department delivered a special report to subcommittee members; with 6.5 years of data, comparing old and new IRT reports.  The subcommittee began its work shortly thereafter, meeting on January 31st, March 13th and April 9th, 2014; the subcommittee delivered a final report to the full BDC on April 15th including the following recommendations:

 
  • Regarding the three questions originally posed to the Subcommittee by the BDC, the Subcommittee answered as follows (in italics below).
    1. Does the new report meet the BDC's need?  Is the data usable?
      • Yes; the Department should use the new Posse-IRT as the base for future monthly IRT reports.
    2. Does the performance goal (85-90% of inspections complete in 1st 24 hours) still "feel right"?
      • The Subcommittee believes you can't answer this until closing the gap between the goal and current IRT performance.  The Subcommittee recommends the goal should definitely be no less than 85%-90%, but should revisit this issue in 12-18 months. 
    3. Is the current staffing level sufficient to achieve performance goals agreed to with the BDC?
      • No; the IRT Subcommittee's recommendation to BDC Budget Subcommittee (3/14/2014) proposed ideally adding 13 inspectors, but no less than 9.
  • Regarding use of staff resources, the IRT Subcommittee recommended the BDC reconvene the Code Compliance Task Force to develop and document best practice criteria, to be promoted amount the industry, by the future Customer Service Center.

 

  • Regarding inspector iPad use, the IRT Subcommittee recommended the Department organize a pilot with a select group of commercial project inspectors, testing how to optimize their use of iPads for plan read and inspection comment markup on drawing record sets, either on the owner's cloud or the Department's future archival site.

 

Industry members interested in participating in either the CCTF reconvene on "best practice" or iPad use pilot, should contact either:

Gene Morton (Gene.Morton@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov) or

Jim Bartl (James.Bartl@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov).

 
 
 
 


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