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Construction Permit Runners: An Excellent Career Opportunity For You

Updated on January 6, 2011

Have you dealt with government agencies in the past? Do you have experience filling out applications and possess decent organizational skills? If so, then Permit Running can be an excellent source of income for you. This article provides information about what a Permit Runner is, and why they are an asset to construction companies.

What is Permit Running?

Running permits requires very little (if any) start-up capitol, and doesn't require a college degree or construction experience. This enhances your ability to begin running permits in a very short period of time.

Permit Running is a service-oriented business that is a good fit for those looking to pick up some extra income - seeking part-time earnings - or those interested in starting their own business and growing it into a career. A Permit Runner can expect to earn between 35-450 dollars per project. In addition, the potential earnings are predetermined and based on: the type of permit, the degree of difficulty and the distance traveled to pull the permit.

Why Run Permits?

Running permits is an ideal situation for the contractor because the Permit Runner relieves the contractor from dealing with traffic, parking and busy building departments. In addition, Permit Runners are not tied to the confines of an office. They are on-the-go while acting as the agent (liaison) between the contractors’ trades and the personnel within the various building departments.

Additionally, opportunity exists because the great majority of contractors do not relish the time consuming task of dealing with local or state government agencies; the law requires building permits to protect the end user with safe conditions; insures that those performing the construction are qualified.

The permit runner pulls permits and receives payment from the contractor, while the contractor goes about their business doing what they do best; building, scheduling or seeking their next client.

Finding Clients

The successful permit runner continually seeks to grow their customer base. The methods they use to gain new customers may vary. Searching the phone book or local construction businesses online is the most direct method in which to find future clients. There are many pages or websites of potential trades to choose from. Additionally, many construction companies place their business names, logos and contact numbers on their vehicles, and jotting down that information for future contact purposes could lead you to a new customer.

To move forward, a visit to your local building department to gather permitting information from a clerk will help you become acquainted with the intricacies and mechanics of permitting. While meeting with the permit clerk, you’ll want to inquire about the many types of permits you can pull, and the degree of difficulty involved with each type.

Typically, electrical and plumbing permits are the easiest to pull and a good starting point for those in the beginning stages. So, familiarizing yourself with the permit process ahead of time, will further prepare you for your next goal; obtaining your first client.

Though many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of selling themselves, (especially door to door) it is much easier to approach the market by “offering” your quality permit services, as opposed to “selling” your quality permit services. This train of thought can lower the anxiety level while you are canvassing any location to obtain new clients.

Finally, you should have some business cards or fliers created to use as an informational hand-out for all your potential customers. This works especially well when the contact person is not available to meet you. However, a face-to-face greeting along with your information is ideal and always leaves a better impression than a phone call. Obviously, the more construction businesses you contact and offer your services to, (numbers game) the greater chance you’ll have of landing enough business that can launch you into a full time career as a Permit Runner.


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      sandy 7 months ago

      what is the average cost to hire a permit runner?

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      Malva 22 months ago

      I am a Permit Runner and have been for 15 years and I can honestly say that the job is much stress but I love every minute of it.

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      Lucy E 4 years ago

      How do I start? I assume the contractor knows all the paper I will need to pull the permit, is it a matter of knowing the clerks to get the permit fast or what?.. They always ask for an experienced permit runner, so is not only taking the papers to the county? Please help!

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      CZimm 5 years ago

      Great article! This is something I've been doing for my company in addition to my regular work. I was recently asked by other contractors how I complete the permitting process so quickly and then it hit me: I could do this for other companies. I've started a spreadsheet of local contractors and plan to offer state and military permitting; however, I have no idea how much to charge. Any suggestions? Also what are some other types of permitting people need? I'm going to do my homework but I need as much input as I can get!

    • rminela profile image

      rminela 7 years ago from Newberry, Fl.

      Hello Lou...I actually "thrive" on the permits that are at the toughest counties or jurisdictions and charge more for permits there. If you're frustrated, imagine how the contractor feels. You should not have to wait for weeks to be paid. You should always charge what you feel your time is worth. I do not do business with contractors that pay past one week.

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      Lou 7 years ago

      I'm in sunroom sales and since the market for big ticket home improvements has slowed this seems to be another avenue to make some money. I've applied for permits in the past and some counties and critical areas are difficult to get building approval. I'm interested in what is a reasonable rate to charge for the various types of permits. Some counties are a walk through and some take weeks for the same project. It's always been a real frustration as a salesman who is commission only and gets paid when the permit is issued.

    • rminela profile image

      rminela 7 years ago from Newberry, Fl.

      Thanks Scott.

      This is my bread-and-butter and I've been at it for nearly 13 years. I have no problems finding enough business. It's all in the approach.

    • scottwkelley profile image

      scottwkelley 7 years ago from Petoskey, Michigan

      What a cool idea. Small start up cost, target market, now if the building would start up again. Another great place to get leads would be at where the permits are filed at. This information is public and a great place to be up to date on the happenings in your county. Tells you who is building what and where. Great Article.