David Senior

Construction permits are public records and offer a wealth of information — including hot lead sources. When general contractor Jeff Freeman, owner of California Designers Remodeling, in North Hollywood, Calif., is looking for leads, he finds out who already has pulled a construction permit that might need his expertise.

Tracking down permit information could be a full-time job, so for the past three years Freeman has been using Construction Monitor, an online service that provides construction permit data for major metropolitan areas in 32 states.

Specify Criteria

Construction Monitor uses a powerful search engine to filter information. “You can search our database through a lot of criteria like date ranges, types of people pulling the permits — contractor, developer/tenant, owner/builder, architect, owner — construction, type, class, area of country,” says Donald Gardner, the company’s national account executive. “And you can drill down through the data all the way to ZIP code or address.”

One way to use Construction Monitor is to find the name of a homeowner who might have pulled permits but doesn’t yet have a builder.

Freeman does this. He calls the homeowner and establishes trust, he says, by introducing himself and letting the owner know he’s an “A”-rated Better Business Bureau member. “I give them my license number and suggest they run it through the state licensing board,” he says.

Another way to use Construction Monitor is to search its database for a builder pulling a permit who might be looking for subcontractors.

Weekly Updates

It might sound hit or miss, but Construction Monitor’s information is published weekly. Subscribers go to the website and can use CM’s search engine to organize information in the ways they want to view it. Click on a permit number, pull it up, and a Google map shows the project location. A hyperlink to the permit puller shows every job he or she has pulled since the first of the year, as well as contact information.

Construction Monitor also offers detailed statistics for a specific area: e.g., since January 2012, North San Joaquin Valley had 492 permits for single-family homes and 88 demolitions. You can see which sector — builder, architect, etc. — of the construction industry is pulling the most permits.

Pricing for one-, six-, or 12-month subscriptions is based on population, number of permits, and the cost for Construction Monitor to gather data; e.g., in Los Angeles, CM costs $96 for one month, $540 for six months, or $960 for a year.

While Construction Monitor is a good tool, Gardner says, “You still have to do your part and pick up the phone or send out the marketing materials to make this a successful lead source.” 

Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.

More REMODELING articles about lead generation:

Waiting Game: Actively pursue leads, don't wait

Inbound for Success: Generate leads using an inbound marketing strategy

Lead-Gen Lesson: Arming clients with a method for generating referrals