Projectdox has had a lot of buzz around DCRA for the past year and has created some confusion along the way. This next series of blogs will help you understand what it is, how it works, what is required and the rules to see if it applies to your next project. Projectdox is DCRA’s web-based electronic plan and document system that lets government personnel review plan submissions and approve them online rather than manual paper. Several agencies including Building, Planning, Zoning, Fire, Environmental, Transportation and other agencies have access to Projectdox and can review the projects parallel rather than sequential.
So how does it work? Projectdox works with permitting software to help automate the plan review process. When a customer (we hope you will choose DC Permit Solutions to help you complete your next project) submits an application in person at DCRA for construction or land use permit that is large enough to require it go through projectdox the application email address will be used to “invite” the client to a “project”. Once you have been invited to a project you will be able to upload supporting documents required for DCRA to start the review process. DCRA will be able to review all the documents online using a workflow chart to start marking up and making comments. Required changes will be noted on the files and then communicated to the applicant. Once revisions are made they are submitted back to the original file through projectdox for DCRA to review. The cycle will continue until all the regulatory requirements are met and it receives final approval for the plans and the permit.
I bet your wondering if you are required to use this new system. The answer is maybe. Projectdox has been in place since last year and can be used on any deal. DCRA has been slowing implementing it since July 1, 2014 on large scale projects. Currently, if you have a project that is 50,000 sq feet or larger you will be required to use projectdox. That new standard went in to effect on January 1, 2015. The next big deadline date for projectdox is April 1, 2015 when all projects greater than 25,000 sq feet will require you to use the online system. Other than the requirement from DCRA there are additional benefits to use the system. First it will help you cut down on cost to have multiple copies printed for your project and to have it delivered to various destinations. This helps support DC with their Green sustainable living vision to be more environmental friendly. It will create better and faster communication between the customers and the agency reviewers. You will be able to access the comments for the files online at anytime. There is also an electronic log of all activity holding greater accountability to all parties. Over time as everyone gets use to the system it should create a faster workflow and better communication. Finally, the electronic files are readily available to emergency first responder’s at local, state and federal agencies should the need arise to access them quickly.
DC Permit Solutions has been involved in several large projects using the new Projectdox system. In our opinion the system has had some pretty serious bumps along the way with implementation. As with any new system training is a difficult to task for a large agency. We have seen some improvement over the past couple months and DCRA is committed to improving the system and training users how to use it effectively. In our opinion if you are not required to use projectdox for your project then do not submit them online. Even though it is presented that it will cut down on cost not requiring paper copies some agencies you may need to go through do not use the system. Currently Historic Preservation, Commission of Fine Arts, Department of the Environment, DC Water and the Department of Health all require hard copies on top of the electronic ones you are required to submit. The team at DC Permits attended training last week on project dox and will continue to go to additional training being offered to stay on top of the latest changes to the system.
Here is a breakdown of the upcoming blog schedule in regards to projectdox.
Part 2- Basics on Projectdox how to access the system, what computer technology do you need, is it a secure web application, what approval stamps are required, acceptable files, and some of the issues we have seen with the system.
Part 3- Technical nitty gritty for using Projectdox- uploading docs, naming documents, tips and tricks to using the system, discipline headers, sheet numbers, submitting the file.
Part 4- Project rejected what you need to do, resubmitting online, how to track your progress, what to do when it’s approved, how to contact DCRA with issues.
If you have an upcoming project that you would like to discuss with our team please give us a call and we can walk you through the details. Our goal at DC Permits is to help our clients navigate the complex process of building in DC. We have years of experience and relationships with reviews and staff at DCRA to ensure your next project is approved as quick and smooth as possible.