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Helping Homeowners: Making the Residential Building & Remodeling Process Easier to Navigate

Jessica Marrone Parkes

Monday, November 18, 2013 • 6:55am

LIVINGSTON, NJ - The Township of Livingston is preparing to launch a new building and remodeling process for residents and is currently looking for volunteers to participate in a focus group.

Earlier in 2013, the PATH program was implemented to assist commercial applicants and, according to the Township, has been successful thus far.

“This is going to be the next step to the PATH program,” explained Councilman Michael Silverman, who has been an advocate of these new permitting models.  Silverman, along with Councilwoman Deborah Shapiro initiated the search for focus group participants and will be conducting the session.

“Having gone through the permitting and construction process myself, I know how confusing and frustrating it can be,” said Shapiro.  “By soliciting constructive advice from the residents and through better understanding of the hurdles that the Building Department has to face, I know that together we can put together a program to ‘straighten out the maze’ of permits and inspections as well as gain a greater respect for the difficult job that our Building Department tries so hard to do well for Livingston.  It’s a ‘win win’ all the way around.”

The goal for the Township is to make the process more easily understood by residents embarking on construction projects, to improve communication during construction, and to help set appropriate expectations – thus making it smoother and easier for residents.  

What I have found is that people spend months and months with an architect and then go for permits,” said Silverman, who would like to see an alignment between the expectations set by residents and the Township in the permitting process.

“I am hoping that throughout this process we will be coming up with improvements and there will be one liaison for residents to go to in order to get information.”

Candidates for the focus group include residents, homeowners, contractors, architects, engineers and professionals who work with homeowners.

Participants will focus on key issues and answer questions such as: What kinds of things do you need to know if you’re thinking about building or renovating a home or driveway? How can the Township make it easier for you to understand permit requirements? What information do you need that you’re not getting now? And, what are your biggest points of frustration and what do you suggest to help the process?

Interested volunteers should email manager@livingstonnj.org  or call 973-992-5000 x5306  to be a part of the Residential Permit Focus Group.  After identifying a key group of participants, the Township will schedule a time and place for the focus group to meet.

“I’m very excited about getting started,” said Silverman, “this will improve the permitting process for residents 100 times over.”

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