The Philadelphia Water Department’s updates to utility reviews are now in effect. The major new requirements are likely to affect new constructions in the city in a few different ways.As of March 1, 2018, all new projects must have PWD utility plan approval, indicated by their stamp on building permit applications. All design professionals are required to comply with the latest set of PWD requirements.
The most notable impact of the updated utility plan checklist that has taken place since it was put into place is the speed at which approvals now go through. Although, the PWD states that they have a five business day review, we have seen approvals for new building plans take a month or longer in many cases.
These lengthy approval times will affect tight construction schedules. We anticipate these review processes to be slowed for some time, however, we are hopeful that approvals will return to their intended amount of time as the reviewers and other architects grow more comfortable with these new requirements.
The changes are as follows:
New plans must be signed and sealed and submitted as a PDF. This means that all plans must be converted into .pdf and signed and sealed by a design professional.
All new plans are required to display the Architects’ contact information. If, for any reason, the water department has to contact any of the engineers working on a given building plan, their information must be prominently displayed, so that the inspector may easily contact them.
The owner’s name or names must be labeled on all new plans. The PWD is requiring this now as a way to track new building projects and maintain their records with more specific information.
Site items must be labeled and dimensioned. This means that all existing City of Philadelphia resources and utilities must be identified. For example, if a new construction will be built on the corner of a residential block where there are two trees, a curb cut for a driveway and a fire hydrant, all of those items must be labeled and shown with proper scale. This requirement also makes a PA-One call submission mandatory for the design professional to coordinate the existing utility locations and sizes.
Existing property lines must be shown and made clear. To ensure the accuracy of approval of new lines and utilities, the person reviewing the plans must be able to understand where property lines are around the new construction and how these new services will affect the immediate neighbors.
Proposed right of ways, easements and infrastructure must be represented. Much of this requirement will not apply to smaller projects like single residences or small, standalone retail properties. Essentially, the plan submitted to the PWD must feature any new proposed roads (and their direction or directions). The plan must also include clearly labeled new utility lines, even if they do not involve the water department, like with cable lines or gas lines. Any utility transformers, subways, train tracks or other city property must be also be shown in the plan to ensure proper safety clearances.
Meter locations and service sizes must be featured on the building plan. So that the reviewer can ensure proper access for PWD employees, meter locations must be demarcated. The plan must also feature precise measurements of all utility lines including sewer, gas, water and others.
There are many other, minor requirements. These requirements are necessary to ensure the safety and proper service of new construction. Though they add some extra work to the drawing and submission process, many of these new requirements will likely make future constructions better for the state of the city and the happiness of the residents.