Woolwich hires outside firm to pick up the slack in its building department

Loss of staff, anticipated spike in applications necessitates the move

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Short-staffed and expecting something of a building boom, Woolwich will bring on some extra help with its building department. The township has signed on with RMS Building Consultants to provide assistance on an as-needed basis.

Woolwich council last week approved the arrangement in an attempt to avoid any backlogs.

Director of engineering and planning Dan Kennaley said the departure of one of the department’s three inspectors comes just as the township is expecting a spike in building permit applications.

Empire Communities, for instance, has just submitted 19 applications for its Riverland subdivision in Breslau, and indicated there may be as many as 100 more before year’s end.

In addition, work is expected to move forward in the nearby Thomasfield Homes subdivision, along with the Lunor and Southwood developments in Elmira, Valleyview in St. Jacobs and Sunset Hills in Maryhill, he noted.

“It’s really a perfect storm situation.”

Though considerably more expensive than carrying out the work in-house, the RMS arrangement will put a cadre of inspectors at the township’s disposal when needed, said Kennaley, adding the service comes without a retainer fee or a contract.

“We just pay them for the work they do on our behalf,” he said.

Where the township’s cost to do an initial plan review of building application would cost $56, RMS will charge $364. For onsite inspections, the difference is $108 and $215, respectively.

“We believe that our current fees should allow us to at least break even,” he said of those cases where RMS is needed.

The township will likely need the services for at least a couple of months while they fill the current vacancy. After that, the use of RMS will depend on volume.

“Even with a full complement, we could need some help from RSM.”

Kennaley noted that first step is reviewing the plan against the Ontario Building Code – the time involved depends on a number of factors, especially whether the designs are all similar for a whole block of a new subdivision or if the plan is for a custom home, for example. After that, a foundation permit is required, followed by an inspection. Likewise, there are inspections along the way, including framing, plumbing and electrical.

A final inspection clears the way for occupancy. Each step takes time, which isn’t always abundant if there’s a building boom underway, he said.

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