All building departments differ from one another in many ways. They differ from state to state, from city to city and even from town to town. In the case of New York City, they even differ from borough to borough and there are 5 of them. This makes it very difficult to comply with all of their requirements, especially if their websites have limited or no information regarding requirements for the architect to follow. Adding to that nightmare is the fact that building officials are people, each with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. Each building official also has their own ideas of what a set of plans needs to be approved for a building permit.
With that being said, one thing is certain. When you file a set of plans for review by the building official, the set is rarely approved the very first time. More often than not, they are rejected 2 or 3 times until the building official is satisfied with the revisions they requested. This can make the process of filing incredibly frustrating and infuriating for the client, because delays cost time and money. But, these delays are just as frustrating for the architect as well. Not only because the building official is halting the process, but also because it may make the client feel like the architect has made errors, should have known what to expect or somehow clairvoyantly included the information being requested.
That is one of the biggest misconceptions. It is not possible for the architect to know exactly what the building official will look for on that particular day, making many of the objections seem arbitrary. Building officials have a myriad of reasons for rejecting the plans, which may seem to include one or more of the following:
Being in a bad mood
Unhappy with their job
Unhappy with their life
A bad marriage
No marriage because they were left at the altar
Loathing of all architects
Client is too ugly
Client is too pretty
A superiority complex
An inferiority complex
Mommy/ daddy issues
Their hatred of rainbows and puppies
Or they’re just a miserable human being