May 22, 2024

New Podcast from Department of Permitting Services Focuses on Commercial Building Safety

Department of Permitting Services’ Newest Podcast Guides Homeowners Through Permitting Process for Home Projects

Ensuring building safety is a top priority of the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) and that topic is the focus of the 15th episode of the Permitting Services Podcast, “Commercial Building Safety: Codes, Designs, Plans and More.” The new episode is now available.

“The month of May is also known as ‘Building Safety Month,’” said DPS Customer Support and Outreach Division Chief Gail Lucas, who hosts the podcast. “Ensuring building safety begins with enforcing building codes to ensure that a project is built correctly, and that it is built to last. This episode focuses on raising awareness of commercial building safety with an emphasis and overview of codes, design, plan review timelines, and use and occupancy certificates.”

Joining Division Chief Lucas for the discussion is DPS Architectural, Life Safety and Fire Protection Section Manager Crystal Maddox, who has worked in the industry for 20 years.

“We have several codes, standards and regulations that we have to look at in the commercial building construction division to make sure that the minimum requirements are met to ensure safety,” said Section Manager Maddox. “We have architectural and life safety review, mechanical review, electrical review, energy, sometimes green building and even structural review involved in a project, and our reviewers have to look at the varying requirements, depending on what the project involves, to make sure those minimum requirements are met.”

During the podcast, Section Manager Maddox encouragescustomers who are embarking on commercial building projects to schedule a virtual design consultation with DPS to get their questions answered before applying for permits. Those customers should bring their design team to these meetings. She said that the commercial building code covers a variety of uses including four-story townhomes, apartments and condominiums, which may be confusing for customers when navigating the permitting process.

“If you do not know or have questions, please check with DPS,” she said. “We are here to help.”

Lucas and Maddox remind customers, especially small business owners, who are considering buying or leasing a property to check with DPS beforehand to ensure that the planned use is allowed at that site. They also highlight the DPS permitting dashboard, which includes turnaround times for new commercial construction and commercial alteration.

“What we do tell folks is that when you submit your project for review anticipate 30 days for the first review cycle on our end to get all of our reviews completed,” Section Manager Maddox said. “Our goal is to have all those reviews done within 30 days. We do have a commercial fast track program, which has a turnaround time of three days, if your project qualifies. That might be a business or mercantile use, something simple in nature that qualifies and that we can get in and out for you very quickly. We also have expedited review. Talk to DPS about your timeline, and we let’s see what we can do.”

This episode of the Permitting Services Podcast is now available on the DPS website and various podcast platforms including Amazon, Apple and Spotify. It also is available at Subscribe to the podcast by tapping the “plus” or “follow” sign on the podcast provider’s platform. This episode is also available on video to watch on-demand on the County’s YouTube channel.

Previous podcast episodes have covered building safety, accessory dwelling units, deck permits, the Design for Life program, home improvements, use and occupancy certificates, fences, fire code compliance, GIS maps, the public right-of-way, septic systems, urban farming and zoning. Listeners are encouraged to send questions and ideas for future podcast episodes to

The Department of Permitting Services is located at 2425 Reedie Drive, Seventh Floor, in Wheaton. The customer service lobby is open from 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday. An appointment is not necessary to get in-person assistance. Customers may also reach out to DPS staff by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311.

For more information about the permitting process, visit the DPS website at