Submitting a cover letter with your plans for the permit application may be common practice. In some jurisdictions a letter like this may even be required. Nevertheless we have found that a cover letter sets a professional tone and gives you a way to open a dialog about the review process.
We like to handle the permit submission because leaving it up to the contractor, while easier, is also full of opportunities to look bad in your client's eyes - news of mistakes and extra costs coming from the contractor rather than you. If you submit for the permits, the outcomes may not be significantly different, but the perception of your service will be.
We cover the following issues in the letter.
As follow-up, we check back frequently to determine which plan examiner will be reviewing the plans. Once we know who the examiner is, we contact him directly and review the background on the project to make sure he is aware of it.
The jurisdictions with which we are most familiar will estimate the timeframe for completing the review. This is helpful information to convey to the Owner and Contractor, if he is on-board already.
Normally we plan the submittal of the plans for permits to precede or coincide with issuing the plans for bidding. The goal is to obtain information on any code correction issues before bids are received so that an addendum can be issued that includes any changes in the project. Once bids are received, pricing a change like this by change order increases the cost of the change more because of the lack of competition.
Our experience is that there is always a code issue or two. So if you wait until after bids are in to receive the results of the plan review, then your time will have to be spent processing the necessary change order. This actually takes about the same time as managing the process as described here. But it gives a better perception of your services, and it speeds up the start-up of construction.
Download a sample letter.