Why is Public Works Involved in My Construction Project?

Any construction project is a juggling act between many teams and smaller subprojects. Your contractor has to coordinate between a variety of professionals including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and more. But one player in construction projects might confuse you: public works. 

Even if your building isn’t funded by the government, there’s a good chance public works will be involved. Often, their involvement requires permits, inspections, and other processes that can cost you time and money. But if you’re not receiving any public funding, why is public works involved in your construction project anyways?

What is Public Works?

Before we dive too far into why public works is involved in your construction project, it’s important to understand who they are and why they exist. Public works can take many shapes and forms, depending on where you live and local laws and regulations.

Public works involves a variety of projects that make our communities better, from filling potholes to ensuring drinking water is clean. It is the management practices, policies, and staff necessary to make sure structures and services provide an acceptable and safe quality of life for citizens. As you can imagine, it covers a vast array of different infrastructure systems such as:

  • Sewage and water

  • Road repairs and maintenance

  • Traffic systems

  • Electrical grid maintenance 

  • Ensuring public buildings and spaces are safe

  • Telecommunication systems

  • Airports (in some communities)

Public Works and Construction

In the construction industry, public works oversees any renovation, construction, demolition, or installation projects that are fully or partly funded by public funds. If your project receives even a small fracture of public funds, public works will be involved in your project. 

However, even if your project received no public funds, there’s a good chance public works will still be involved. This is because public works departments often oversee any projects involving utilities. Utilities and other safety concerns in buildings open to the public “affect the public interest” and thus fall under the authority of local departments. 

Working with Public Works Departments

It’s hard to give specific advice about how to work with public works on your construction project because laws vary from one city to another. In some places, public works are more involved in the project while other times, all you need from them is a permit. If you live anywhere in the United States, you can expect to deal with public works at some time during your construction project. Depending on how your local bureaucratic bodies run, public works can delay your project and increase construction costs.

Working with a good contractor who understands the local laws and regulations can ensure that your permits are submitted correctly the first time and all public works regulations are followed. In fact, when you’re choosing a contractor, you should consider how well they know local laws and regulations. Before hiring them, you can even ask about their experiences applying for permits with other clients and how effective they are at working with local departments. 

While working with public works is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be a bad experience if you work with the right contractor. A good contractor will collaborate with public works to make sure your building meets all local requirements while staying as close to the project schedule as possible. 

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in repairs, maintenance, renovations, remodelings and build-outs for a variety of clients in Hampton Roads, Virginia. We have years of experience handling projects in the retail, office, and healthcare space and would love to work with you on your next project!

To learn more about our services, check out past project highlights or contact Carlton Building Services to see how we can help with your next project. 

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.