Automated preliminary review of building applications

Bochum Challenge Brief

Full description: The Building Regulations Office of Bochum, one of the biggest cities in the Business Metropole Ruhr, the City of Cities – one of the densest rural areas in Germany and Europe, is struggling to efficiently and swiftly deal with the building permit materials submitted for approval. The process is cumbersome and many stakeholders are involved in it.

The first step of the process is crucial: checking the applications vis-à-vis federal and state building regulations (“BauO NRW” or “BauPrüf VO”) takes a large chunk of the work of the city officials. The Building Regulations Office is looking for a solution that enables applicants to carry out an automated preliminary review of construction projects and, following this preliminary review, to submit complete and qualified building applications in order to enable a faster and less time-consuming review.

As a regulatory authority, there is an interest in ensuring that applications are of the highest possible quality. Because this is not regularly the case, the authority loses a lot of time with the complex review process. Inadequate and incomplete applications lead to recurrent additional claims and verification loops, which prolong the approval period for both sides.

Current State: Currently, the examination of the entire planning documents in the approval process of a construction project is performed manually. The labor-intensive process complicates the situation of building authorities, which are already under a high workload due to the large number of building applications. The process takes too long and is very complicated for the authorities.

In 2019, a total of around 900 approvals were granted for residential renovation and new residential construction. In addition, there are commercial construction projects. The Building department has roughly 80 employees.

The problem lies in the fact that, on the one hand, the requirements and specifications differ regionally and locally, so that investors plan partly due to inadequate specifications. On the other hand, the regulations are very complex and vary widely in the different building classes. If the approval authorities come up with a different assessment, the remaining review process will not be completed successfully. Furthermore, the review currently involves a lot of manual work. For some aspects of the review there is also room for discretion that cannot be regulated in principle.

Involved Stakeholders

The following parties are involved in the project:

City of Bochum: Chief Mayor Thomas Eiskirch
Economic Development Bochum: Jannis Heuner
Vonovia Bochum: Pia Hellstern


Desired outcome:
The desired state of affairs would be a control system to support and relieve those involved in the approval process.

The objective is that the building authority receives perfect building applications. This means that the appropriate class of building has been chosen, all plans are presented in a comprehensible and complete manner and then all applicable requirements are met. Ideally, the submission should be made in a continuous digital format, free of media discontinuity, which allows for fast processing and internal approval. Digital plans are the prerequisite for automated checks and parallel processing of applications by the additional stakeholders.

** Additional Challenge:

In addition to this "platform", parallel activities are being carried out to implement the Model Checker with the necessary specifications, so that the basis for the automated checking process is achieved. Because this task is very specific and can only be carried out in direct cooperation with the provider of the software, this "challenge" is explicitly mentioned but not tendered as a challenge.