CHESHIRE – Residents and contractors doing work in town can request permits online, a service that started this month and will be followed by other efforts to make the Building Department more convenient to use.
Keith Darin, head building official, said the introduction of the ViewPoint system to receive and process permits of all types eliminates the need for builders to visit town hall.
“We see contractors in here during the day when they’d rather be out on job being productive,” Darin said. “You can do this at any time from home and send it in and carry on with your daily activities.”
Although builders are the most frequent users of the permit system, Darin said it’s open to anyone. Those who have used the ViewPoint system in other towns can use their same registration. Payment can be made online with a credit card or through the mail with a check.
Darin, who became head building official three years ago, said one of his objectives is to make the building department “more user-friendly.” He started by scanning and digitizing the property cards, which can now be emailed to real estate agents, appraisers, residents, and others who request them, saving a trip to town hall.
Building inspectors will be receiving tablets in a few days that will allow them to input the results of their inspections into the department’s system from the field. Not only is that a quicker system, but it’s also easier to share electronic information with other departments, such as the fire and health departments.
When he first arrived, Darin said everything was done on paper.
“It hadn’t changed in years and years and years,” he said.
Jerry Sitko, the town’s economic development coordinator, supported the changes and other efforts to improve customer service.
“Any time you can improve your customer service for a resident and a business, that’s good,” he said. “From a business person’s perspective, time is money, and if you can cut down on the approval time for getting a permit and they can get to work, that helps.”
Visitors to the building department will be directed to a kiosk where they can submit a permit application online. Darin said department staff have helped people through their first time, the same process as doing it from home. Many aren’t aware they could have submitted online.
“They’re coming in for the first time and they’re not aware (we’ve) made the change. One hundred percent of everything has gone through system,” Darin said.