Online service appeals to contractors and house hunters
Posted on 03/01/2017
Saving time and having key information at your fingertips are just two of the many reasons that contractors are eager to set up an account on the Access My Government (AMG) website. It is especially handy for those who work as electricians, mechanical contractors (install heating and cooling systems), and plumbers – trades that do regular residential and/or commercial work in the City of Northville. Builders also use the system and often have the “trades” who work for them obtain permits.  

Contractors can schedule inspections from their smart phone (by 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) and be notified of permit results within one hour of inspection. Approved permits can be printed by the contractor and posted to the building site. They no longer need to go to City Hall to get a permit or wait for it in the mail. However, contractors must first register in person at City Hall to begin doing business in the City. After that, they can use the online services for inspections and permits.  

Payment for the permit can be made by credit card on the AMG’s website through Point and Pay, a payment-processing company. For credit card use, there is a 3% fee, with a minimum of $2; for e-checks, it’s a $3 fee for payments up to $10,000 and $10 for payments of $10,000 and over. The other option is to mail in a check or pay by cash or check at the counter. Credit card payments cannot be done by phone for any City business transaction. 

Prior to the launch of the online scheduling system in August 2016, the City handled permit requests and set up inspections by phone, in person or by mail.  

In 2016, the City processed permits for more than 100 building contractors and 97 of the skilled trades mentioned. In total, 541 permits were issued, about 100 less than in 2015, which was a banner year for building and renovations with 637 permits issued. 

On the monthly basis, there are 45 to 50 permit requests – with accompanying inspections. Having contractors perform these services online, at no additional cost to them, saves manpower in the City’s clerk’s office and building inspector’s office. Contractors are encouraged to use the website exclusively for scheduling inspections and obtaining needed permits.  

“The peak times for permits are from May through August,” noted Shari Allen. “We used to print an audit copy and field copy of the permit application for inspectors, but now we only print one copy, which stays at City Hall.”  

“For companies that want statistics on their permits and inspections, getting it off the AMG website is easy to do,” said Brent Strong, Building Dept. inspector.  

“Builders still need to come to City Hall for plan approval since they must show their architectural drawings.” 

From a homeowner’s perspective, the system offers a free look at their own home’s data, from past owners and purchase prices to whether permits were pulled for installations and renovations. House buyers and others can go online to see if a specific house requested a permit by going to the “Look up” screen on home page. This shortcut saves them the cost of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fee and a five-day waiting period to obtain information.