Top Reasons to Renovate in Portland with a FIR Program Contractor
If you live in Portland, Oregon and live in Multnomah County, Aforma may be able to obtain a permit for your project almost instantly because of our company’s participation in the Portland Bureau of Development Services FIR Program.
FIR stands for the Field Issuance Remodel program and many custom home renovations, including additions, extensions and basement conversations can be permitted extremely quickly under FIR. FIR inspectors can evaluate proposed projects on-site. In some cases, depending on the complexity of the project, inspectors can approve immediate start up of the project by providing job site consultation, approve work to begin and also issue approved plans and inspection record cards the next day.
The FIR advantages are clear: obtain your permit and start working on your project within days as long as architectural plans and engineering documents are complete.
The FIR Program was designed to facilitate rapid plan review and inspection processes for alterations and additions made to one- or two- family dwellings by simplifying permitting and inspection processes.
Here are just some of the benefits of the FIR permitting system over the standard process, which can take a lot of extra time, cause unnecessary delays in scheduling and ultimately lead to cost overruns.
Streamlined plan intake and permit issuance
Pre-application consulting services
Authorize immediate start up
Designation of a single inspector to provide all FIR services for a given customer, regardless of location
Continuous working relationships between participants and City inspectors leading to faster and more efficient service to our customers.
Services delivered at the customer’s desired level, including consultations, job meetings and process management assistance. These services are charged at an hourly rate with cost accountability through itemized billings.
More control = more savings
One of the essential principles beyond choosing a contractor in FIR Program is the ability to develop close working relationships between project participants and City inspectors.
This service will provide pre-design consultations, site meetings and process management assistance.
This service is an asset because many projects involve designers, contractors and others from outside the area that may not be familiar with the local codes and regulations. FIR staff are available for consultation which begins before the preliminary documents are prepared. This service saves customer time and labor on the front end of projects.
Most FIR projects move rapidly through the permitting process, eliminating repeated checksheets and resubmittals of permit documents.
The functions of plan review and inspections are assigned to the same inspector.
This means the customer works with the same person from the initial contact to the final inspection. This is true of the Building, Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical trade permits
The FIR program does not relax code requirements or provide lower plan review or inspections standards than those required by the State of Oregon Statutes, Administrative Rules, and/or the City of Portland Municipal Titles. The goal is to provide inspections and plan review services as efficiently and effectively as possible to FIR participants. Participants can expect communication and service delivery tailored to their needs, including:
Required pre-construction consultation
Pre-design consultations, if desired
Process management assistance in obtaining review of their project from other City bureaus
The FIR Program is designed to serve contractors that are performing alteration and addition work. Qualifying work includes the following:
The alteration of existing habitable space
The conversion of existing non-habitable space into habitable space
The creation of new habitable or non-habitable space attached to an existing structure
The erection of a new detached accessory structure
The demolition of a detached accessory structure.
Work defined as a Major Residential Alteration or Addition in Portland City Code Section 24.55.150 qualifies for the FIR Program, unless limited by the limitations below:
Creation of new square footage and exterior alterations must comply with applicable zoning and land use regulations and the Portland City Code.
Also, because of unique construction and regulatory requirements, the FIR Program may not be used for the following:
Creation of accessory dwelling units
Conversion of single-family residences to duplexes
Fire damage repair
The demolition of a one or two family dwelling
See Portland City Code Subsection 24.55.150 for the definition of “Demolition”.
Projects that would require an Alternate Review Process also cannot be permitted through FIR.
Projects that do not qualify as noted above must be submitted for permit application through the standard residential permit process.
How does FIR actually work?
An on-site pre-construction meeting with the applicant and the inspector is required. The pre-construction site meeting may be scheduled at any time prior to or after the building permit has been applied for, as long as the contractor is registered with FIR. Contractors must contact the inspector directly to schedule the pre-construction site meeting.
The Plan Review Process
The FIR Program inspector assigned to each project will typically perform the required plan review for that project.
Inspectors are available to meet with participants at project sites for mandatory pre-construction consultations and during plan review. Telephone conference consultation is available for simple projects at the discretion of the inspector. Participants must contact inspectors directly to schedule site meetings.
Whenever possible, inspectors will perform plan review and issue permits at the site, however, there will be projects that require more extensive review by the inspector, other BDS staff and/or other City bureaus. In those cases, the inspector will return the submittal documents to City offices for reviews to be completed.
Where review by other sections of BDS or by other City bureaus is required, the inspector will act as process manager for the project, and will provide a single point of contact for the participant during the review process.
Plan approval, payment of certain fees, and permit issuance from the FIR inspector is required before work commences. Copies of issued permits will be maintained on file by the City.
Plan revisions to the scope of work must be approved by the FIR inspector before work covered under the revision commences. A permit revision must be issued. Copies of issued permit revisions will be maintained on file by the City.
The Inspection Process
Once a permit has been issued, the participant will schedule inspections and on-site consultations directly with the assigned FIR Program inspector, rather than through BDS’s IVR inspection scheduling system.
Inspectors will work with participants to perform inspections promptly to meet the participants’ needs.
A well managed project will lower overall costs of the project by limiting unnecessary inspector visits and minimizing the number of corrections and re-inspections. Customers are also encouraged to consider the additional advantages, which include reduced design and consultation costs, limited time, if any, spent in the Development Services Center and most importantly keeping their projects on schedule.
A hard copy of the issued permit plans will be maintained on site for the duration of the project.
Inspectors will leave correction notices at inspection sites and enter inspection results into BDS’s permit tracking system (TRACS). Inspection results will be available online, typically by the next day.
Projects will be charged an hourly rate for all services provided by FIR Program inspectors, rather than paying the standard permit fee.
The hourly rate structure allows FIR to offer additional services such as pre-application consultations and after hour inspections to be billed at an hourly rate. The current rate per hour is charged for all services.
This hourly rate replaces all other permit fees with the exception of any additional State or local taxes or surcharges. A monthly bill is issued to the contractor identifying all charges by date, project number or name and type of service rendered.
This process ensures fiscal accountability for the client and the City.
For plan check fees and other services provided by the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) planning staff, please reference the Land Use Service Fee Schedule.