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Broadnax Makes Work for Permit Expediters

City

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax | Image by NBC DFW

Dallas has not found a fix to its broken building permit process, and permit expediters — paid contractors who can streamline the process — are pouncing on the opportunity.

A permit expediter is an individual with the project-based experience needed to enhance the speed at which city officials issue residential, multifamily, and commercial building permits.

Hiring a permit services company is most often used in commercial developments due to the importance of accurate first-time submittals, which is typically beyond the scope of most new business owners.

Permit Place is a permit expediting and entitlement consulting firm that has operated in Dallas for the past 20 years. The Los Angeles-based company focuses on commercial projects such as restaurants, banks, and other retail-based establishments and is quite familiar with Dallas’ permitting troubles.

Mike Robinson, president of Permit Place, spoke with The Dallas Express about some of the city’s permitting issues and why Dallas has struggled to find a workable solution.

“Dallas is really bad in terms of their turnaround times,” Robinson said. “The pandemic decimated city staff, with many individuals choosing that time to retire.”

The staff that remained has struggled to adapt to online technologies, pushing some in-person appointment wait times up to 8-12 weeks, he explained.

Getting past the initial plan-review phase poses the most problems for new customers, according to Robinson.

“The planning approval (entitlement approval) is the toughest part to get through and often takes the longest. For that, it is important to prepare everything beforehand and to really make sure all your I’s are dotted and all your T’s are crossed,” Robinson said. “Otherwise, you’ll just keep getting your project sent back for revisions.”

“Honey catches more flies — or in this case, more permits,” he explained.

Building permits in Dallas are issued by the city’s Development Services Department (DSD), which is headed by Chief Building Official and DSD Director Andrew Espinoza. Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax oversees both Espinoza and DSD and has seemingly been hands-off concerning the permitting backlog crisis.

Despite the importance of a city’s building permit process, many customers struggle to align the many moving parts and to make sense of the process, given the maze of compliance codes and zoning requirements one needs to understand.

“In many cases, a city’s process part is a black hole of confusion. A good permit expediter is able to navigate this black hole, consolidate information for customers, and deliver swift results to customers,” Robinson said.

Building permit bottlenecks have become such an issue in Dallas and around the country that the firm celebrated 2022 as the most profitable year in its 30-year history.

Permit Place expects a 15% growth rate in 2023 due to ongoing demand for expediting services and the customer need for decreased permitting times.

That prediction seems highly plausible given DSD’s November 2 projection that issues could persist for years due to low staffing levels and other concerns under Broadnax’s leadership.

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Djea3
Djea3
14 days ago

The real issue is that Permitting departments and inspection departments have ZERO liability for their own failures in processes and in construction, including meeting codes.

It makes much more sense to allow PRIVATE industry to meet the requirements of both, and to have unlimited liability over both.

The Government gives itself Sovereign Immunity over everything it does. This means that even if they do EVERYTHING WRONG, and fail to verify at inspections, they are NOT liable for their work and mistakes. The Contractor is liable and generally ONLY FOR ONE YEAR. The PUBLIC is the loser.

Change the entire process. Allow developers and builders to choose private engineering and inspection firms that will be permanently liable for their work and actions and inspections. Even a private citizen building a home would be allowed to CHOSE between city services and inspections or private services and inspections but all MUST MEET ALL CODES.

The ONLY thing that the city needs to be involved in is assuring that the development meets zoning requirements and that the specifications called out for the build are the current codes. Everything else can be on the Engineers and Contractors and private inspectors.

Zaphod
Zaphod
14 days ago

Shameful Dallas has put the brakes on development.

rudy
rudy
14 days ago

Pretty obvious some money is changing hands somewhere……