Today I pose the question:
What is the benefit of entering data into a database if we can’t get it out?
If we spend all of our time entering data but fail to include important pieces of information about a record, it can be very difficult to filter properly later.
Many times, I am asked to help produce a report to display data broken down or filtered into various ways. One of the most common queries is the number of Commercial or Residential Permits of a certain type. The very first question I ask users is where they keep that data. How or where do they store the information that tells them whether a property is Residential or Commercial?
Surprisingly, the answer is often unknown.
Here are a few key fields that I’ve found over my time spent with users that I find helpful to always include if you can. I have broken them down by areas of the program. This list is not meant to be exhaustive — just a few good examples.
Rental – Your Building Department .NET system contains fields to track whether or not a property is a rental. If it is, you can include the number of units and even which complex it belongs to, among other things. This is helpful information to have on hand even if you don’t have a rental registration program.
Vacant – Vacant structures can be a tough task to manage; luckily, you can indicate whether a property is vacant and track these structures with your BD. NET program.
Flood Plain – We all know that permitting construction inside of a floodplain can have additional requirements. The Flood Plain tab on the Parcel section of the Property View allows you to track the flood zone, whether an elevation certificate is present, and when the parcel needs revalidation. This information can make reporting and permitting much quicker, easier, and thorough.
Basic Usage – A convenient drop-down lets you choose between Residential, Commercial, Agricultural, Industrial, and Municipal. You can use this field to display on or filter a report. Creating a filter combined with the Category and Date Issued fields, and finding a list of Residential New Construction Permits issued last month, for instance, is simple.
Value – Most users input this value out of pure necessity in order to calculate fees. Some, however, may not realize that the valuation can be calculated using the Construction Calculator which appears next to the field. The Calculator utilizes the ICC Values by way of an easy-to-use chart, which allows you to select the construction type and use group.
The square footage used to determine the amount can be added to the total for the permit and the value can be added to the existing amount already calculated—this makes it easy to calculate all of the parts of the structure together.
Lastly, the Value can be used to automatically populate for fee calculations when adding an invoice, and also added to reports for period totals.
C404 – The federal government is required to attempt to collect data for new construction projects throughout the country for statistical reference. In the Building Information section of a Permit, you can indicate whether or not to use the selected Permit in the report, as well as input the additional information the C404 report demands.
Every month, you can run the C404 report for that month from the Permit category and the program will automatically fill out the form for submittal.
Miscellaneous – User fields in this section of various records in the BD .NET program allow you to track information that other units don’t, and therefore aren’t included as standard fields in the database. The labels can be changed in Program Setup from saying “User Field” to whatever it is that you are using it for.
Status – The Status field allows you to choose a custom status to properly indicate where a case is in the Enforcement process. Opening the list of statuses gives you the ability to edit which choices are available.
Group – The BD .NET application allows you to renew your Certificates en masse. Since many units differ on when and how often they renew, and because there can be different types of Certificates even within the same unit, the Group field helps keep this process manageable.
This field can be used to group Certificates together according to when they should be renewed, for instance, when their expiration dates aren’t set to a common date. This is especially helpful if Certificates are renewed based on something other than a date.
Billing Class – The Billing Class field can help specify which fees need to be applied based on what type of unit the Certificate is certifying. In terms of rental housing, single-family homes could be billed at a separate rate than a multi-family unit.
The Billing Class allows you to differentiate the types and apply a filter to charge different fees based on the Class, such as re-inspection fees.
Keep in mind, however, that recurring fees that are applied each time a Certificate is renewed will be applied automatically if the “Recur on Renewal” setting is checked in the setup for that fee.
Change Of Occupancy – Sometimes we need to track when a change of occupancy has occurred and perform inspections. A Certificate of Occupancy record can be inserted and the Change of Occupancy checkbox marked to indicate this fact. As always, we can use this checkbox for reporting and filtering purposes.
For more specific information about any of the items covered here, consult the program manual by going to Help>View Documentation>Manual within the Building Department .NET application.
As always, support for any topic, along with the ones listed here, is available by going to Help>Contact Customer Support.