Puerto Rico (U.S.)

Dealing with Construction Permits in

Puerto Rico (U.S.)

Below is a detailed summary of the procedures, time and costs to build a warehouse in Puerto Rico (U.S.). This includes obtaining necessary licenses and permits, completing required notifications and inspections and obtaining utility connections.

This information was collected as part of the Doing Business project, which measures and compares regulations relevant to the life cycle of a small- to medium-sized domestic business in 189 economies. The most recent round of data collection was completed in June 2014. Read the methodology.

The indicator set on dealing with construction permits will be expanded in Doing Business 2016 to include an index that will measure good practices in construction regulation and assess the quality control and safety mechanisms in place for an economy’s construction permitting system, as well as the quality of the building regulations. This new index will become a component indicator of the ranking on dealing with construction permits. The new data were collected for 170 economies in 2014 and is available under the “Methodology Expansion” tab, below. The data are preliminary and do not have any impact on the Ease of Doing Business 2015 rankings. This data may differ from what will be published in Doing Business 2016.

Compare Puerto Rico (U.S.) to 188 other economies.

  • STANDARDIZED WAREHOUSE

  • Estimated cost of construction: USD 978,592
  • City: San Juan
No. Procedure Time to Complete Associated Costs
1 Request and obtain preliminary development parameters "consulta de construccion" from the San Juan Permits Office
Agency: Permitting Office of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan

Prior to filing the construction permit application, BuildCo must file a Preliminary Development Application/"Anteproyecto" Application with the San Juan Permits Office. San Juan is an autonomous municipality and for this reason, certain approvals must be requested with the San Juan Permits Office rather than with the Office of Permits Management (OGPe).

This filing is required to determine whether the project, as planned, complies with zoning and construction regulations of the Puerto Rico Planning Board and Municipality of San Juan's Zoning Regulations.
30 days USD 100
* 2 Request recommendations and determination of environmental compliance from the San Juan Permits Office- Municipality
Agency: Permitting Office of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan

BuildCo must submit a request to obtain environmental recommendations (REA) at the San Juan Permits Office. The office will send its final recommendations to OGPe who would then issue the environmental recommendations approval. This procedure is a prerequisite for obtaining the final occupancy permit.
60 days USD 400
* 3 Request and follow up to obtain recommendations from Natural and Environmental Resources Department
Agency: Office of Permits Management (OGPe) - Natural and Environmental Resources Department

BuildCo must obtain recommendations from the different agencies, which would be centralized by the Office of Permits Management (OGPe). After having received all the requests, OGPe would process each recommendation with the relevant agency and will notify BuildCo when all of them have been compiled.

As this is a transition process, many companies still make several visits, calls and follow-ups with the OGPe to obtain their final recommendations. Additionally, these recommendations are still filled by many architects at different times, increasing the cost they need to pay (USD 100.00 for each request).

When the process is fully implemented, it is expected that only one request for all recommendations would be necessary and each agency would have a maximum time limit to reply. At the end, BuildCo will receive its recommendation document via email.
60 days USD 100
* 4 Request and follow up to obtain recommendations from Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA)
Agency: Office of Permits Management (OGPe) - Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA)

60 days USD 100
* 5 Request and follow up to obtain recommendations from PREPA (Electric Power Authority)
Agency: Office of Permits Management (OGPe) - PREPA (Electric Power Authority)

14 days USD 100
* 6 Request and follow up to obtain recommendations from the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture (Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico)
Agency: Office of Permits Management (OGPe) - Puerto Rico Institute of Culture (Instituto de Cultura de Puerto Rico)

Since 2006, all construction to be built on an archeological site must be approved by the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture.

Phase I is initiated, and an inspector inspects the site at a cost of USD 100.00. If anything is found, Phase I-a starts, and the associated fee is USD 250.00, and so forth.

Assuming that the site is not archaeological (as in the Doing Business case study), the fees for this procedure would only be USD 100.00. This procedure is a prerequisite for obtaining the final occupancy permit.
14 days USD 100
* 7 Request and obtain fire recommendations from Authorized Professional and Inspector
Agency: Authorized Professional and Inspector

The Regulations of Construction Permits for Works and Land Use “Reglamento Conjunto de Permisos para Obras de Construcción y Usos de Terrenos” published in December 2010 introduces the option of hiring an Authorized Professional (AP) and Authorized Inspector (AI). Construction companies in Puerto Rico can now choose between hiring an authorized professional/inspector or having a government agency carry out the fire recommendations and the fire prevention and environmental health certificates.

In 2012, the government began providing certification courses and since June 2013 most construction companies in Puerto Rico use the Authorized Professional and Inspector because it takes less time.

Authorized Professionals and Inspectors charge approximately USD 250 for the fire recommendations. Moreover, there is a filing fee of $50 for fire recommendations according to “Orden Administrativa OGPe-2010-3”.
5 days USD 300
* 8 Buy stamps and pay to the College of Engineers and Architects
Agency: College of Engineers and Architects

The stamps can be obtained at the CIAPR Coop and several other Cooperatives along the island.
1 day USD 1,050
9 Submit construction drawings for approval to the San Juan Permits Office and obtain preliminary approval
Agency: Office of Permits Management (OGPe)

This is a preliminary approval (licencia condicionada), as it is conditional on BuildCo paying the construction tax and the workers' policy.

This procedure is regulated by the Reglamento de Certificación, Administrative Order2009-14. The OGPe grants a preliminary approval, which is necessary to register for the FSE and to pay the municipal tax (Development Right Transferral Program) on the building. These are required steps to obtain the final construction permit.
60 days USD 5,690
* 10 Pay municipal construction tax
Agency: Municipality

As provided by Municipal Ordinance No. 14, 2005-2006 Series, the current cost is 5% of the project value.
1 day USD 48,930
* 11 Obtain insurance policy from State Insurance Fund Corporation (CFSE)
Agency: State Insurance Fund Corporation

The State Insurance Fund Corporation issues a policy as evidence of workers' compensation insurance required for the approval of a construction project. There is a fee schedule to estimate these costs.
3 days no charge
12 Obtain construction permit from the San Juan Permits Office
Agency: Permitting Office of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan

After BuildCo pays the municipal construction tax and obtains the insurance policy, the Municipality of San Juan Permits Office issues the construction permit.
7 days no charge
13 Receive footing and foundation inspection
Agency: Office of the General Inspector of Permits (Oficina del Inspector General de Permisos-OIGPE)

According to the Building Code in Puerto Rico all construction projects are required to receive footing and foundation inspection. Footing and foundation inspections shall be made after excavations for footings are complete and any required reinforcing steel is in place.
1 day no charge
14 Receive concrete slab and concrete components inspection
Agency: Office of the General Inspector of Permits (Oficina del Inspector General de Permisos-OIGPE)

According to the Building Code in Puerto Rico all construction projects are required to receive concrete slab and concrete components inspection. In particular, concrete slab, under-floor inspections and other components shall be made after reinforcing steel and building service equipment, conduit, piping accessories and other ancillary equipment items are in place, but before any concrete is placed or floor sheathing installed, including the subfloor.
1 day no charge
15 Receive frame inspection
Agency: Office of the General Inspector of Permits (Oficina del Inspector General de Permisos-OIGPE)

According to the Building Code in Puerto Rico all construction projects are required to receive frame inspection. In particular, framing inspections shall be made after the roof deck or sheathing, all framing, fire-blocking and bracing are in place and pipes, chimneys and vents to be concealed are complete and the rough electrical, plumbing, heating wires, pipes and ducts are approved.
1 day no charge
16 Receive masonry wall inspections
Agency: Office of the General Inspector of Permits (Oficina del Inspector General de Permisos-OIGPE)

According to the Building Code in Puerto Rico all construction projects are required to receive masonry wall inspections. In particular, inspections shall be made after masonry wall is in place with required reinforcements, conduit piping accessories and other ancillary equipment items are in place, but before any plastering or architectural specified coverings are placed.
1 day no charge
17 Request and obtain fire prevention certificate and environmental health certificate from Authorized Professional and Inspector
Agency: Authorized Professional and Inspector

The Regulations of Construction Permits for Works and Land Use “Reglamento Conjunto de Permisos para Obras de Construcción y Usos de Terrenos” published in December 2010 introduces the option of hiring an Authorized Professional (AP) and Authorized Inspector (AI). Construction companies in Puerto Rico can now choose between hiring an authorized professional/inspector or having a government agency carry out the fire recommendations and the fire prevention and environmental health certificates.

In 2012, the government began providing certification courses and since June 2013 most construction companies in Puerto Rico use the Authorized Professional and Inspector because it takes less time.

Authorized Professionals and Inspectors charge approximately USD 250 for the fire prevention certificate. Moreover, there is a filing fee of $80 for this certificate according to “Orden Administrativa OGPe-2010-3”. They charge another USD 250 for the environmental health certificate and there is a filing fee of $35 for this certificate according to “Orden Administrativa OGPe-2010-3”.

Each certificate takes about 5 days to issue.
10 days USD 615
18 Receive final inspection
Agency: Office of the General Inspector of Permits (Oficina del Inspector General de Permisos-OIGPE)

According to the Building Code in Puerto Rico all construction projects are required to receive a final inspection.
1 day USD 300
19 Request and obtain occupancy permit from the San Juan Permits Office
Agency: Permitting Office of the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan

A licensed engineer or architect is responsible for ensuring that the building is compliant with the regulations and permit outlines, and for supervising the project during construction (inspections). At the end of the construction, the architect files with the authorities all plans, a final cost evaluation, and reports from all inspections. The occupancy permit is then issued.
10 days USD 100
* 20 Request and obtain water and sewage from Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA)
Agency: Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA)

21 days USD 3,000
  * Takes place simultaneously with another procedure.
Answer
Building code/regulations
Which requirements to obtain a building permit are clearly specified by the building regulations (including the building code), any regulations dealing with construction permits or any accessible website, brochure or pamphlet? List of required documents to submit; Fees to be paid; Required preapprovals by all relevant agencies
Where are the building regulations (including the building code) or any regulations dealing with construction permits accessible? Available online
Quality control before construction
Which entities are required to verify that the architectural plans/drawings for a private construction are in compliance with existing building regulations? Private firm or private expert
Who is part of the committee or team that reviews and approves building permit applications in the relevant permit-issuing agency? Licensed architect; Licensed engineer; A civil servant who is not an architect or engineer
Quality control during construction
What type of mandatory inspections (if any) are required by law to be carried out during construction? Inspections at certain stages of construction
Do legally mandated inspections occur in practice during construction? Mandatory inspections are done in practice.
Quality control after construction
Is there a final inspection required by law to verify that the building was built in accordance with the approved plans and existing building regulations or is a final report / sign-off required by a supervising engineer? Yes
Do legally mandated final inspections occur in practice? Final inspection is done in practice.
Liability/insurance regimes
Which parties (if any) are held liable by law for structural flaws/problems in the building once it is in usage? Architect or engineer; Professional or Agency in charge of the supervision; The construction company
Which parties (if any) are required to obtain an insurance policy to cover possible structural flaws/problems in the building once it is in usage? The architect or engineer; The construction company
Professional certification and controls
What are the qualification requirements for the architect or engineer in charge of verifying that the architectural plans/drawings are in compliance with existing building regulations? University degree in architecture or engineering; Be a registered architect or engineer
What are the qualification requirements for the professional who supervises the construction on the ground? University degree in engineering, construction or construction management; Be a registered architect or engineer

  Please send any comments and inputs on the data above to rru@worldbank.org

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