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The Truth About Construction Permits

Updated: Dec 8, 2018

A Carefully Considered Set of Plans Ease Construction Permitting
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Are you a new restaurant owner? Or a seasoned veteran in the industry? Whatever the case, you’re about to get knee deep in a great deal of planning and preparation. One of the most foundational areas, yet least glamorous, is the permitting exercise that goes along with any type of construction.

It may be the one area where attention to detail can make all the difference between opening your restaurant on time and on budget and incurring delays and extra, unforeseen costs. This can lead to a rocky start with revenues lost due to a delayed launch and additional expenses from the rent you’ll need to pay your landlord monthly even though you haven’t opened yet, not to mention the fees you’ll incur by going back to secure the extra cash needed to perform previously unaccounted for work.

While it takes time and money to secure a construction permit, fortunately the time and cost required to get an approved permit for most restaurant build-outs and renovation projects is a lot less than some of the massive construction projects that California now has underway.

Did you hear that for its Naples Ristorante Expansion and Remodel in Downtown Disney, Disneyland will see $3,984,000 in permit fees alone?

According to, The 8,926-sq.-ft. restaurant will be getting a 1,781-sq.-ft. expansion among the first and second floors, making for a more spacious lobby, restaurant, kitchen and indoor dining experience.

All extremes aside with this Disney example really pushing the limits, it’s important to note that even though it might be tempting to skip the permitting phase (it’s fine to identify areas of your business where you can take advantage of cost savings), cutting corners in the construction phase to avoid permits can hurt you. To prevent this, you’ll want to be sure to do your due diligence in creating plans that consider current code and building requirements. This involves:

  • Surveying and analyzing the existing facilities for code compliance. Taking a thorough look at the space before embarking on your project is a crucial first step. It might even make the difference on what space you choose. Sometimes it is better to move on than to lock up a space for your project that requires additional work to bring it up to code.

  • Generating a full set of architectural documents that meet building, health and fire codes. This is a must when working with building departments. Incomplete plans can result in unforeseen and unnecessary delays.

  • Working with engineers to provide necessary structural, mechanical and electrical plans, schedules and details. Having the right consultants in place to help you create a comprehensive set of plans to submit to building and planning agencies can help you avoid having to re-do or resubmit plans and avoid the headaches that can come along with this during construction.

Along with these tasks, you won’t want to underestimate the importance of submitting plans to health, building and fire departments and coordinating health department inspections.

With so much on your plate, hiring a firm like Restaurant Design Concepts, which takes care of all the details, including construction permitting tasks, can give you peace of mind that the not so little things are being handled effectively.


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