Dallas Building Permit Stress Test Proposed

A man looks at a building plan | Image by Chanchai phetdikhai/Shutterstock

A proposed stress test could reveal whether the City of Dallas is capable of managing a significant rebound in building permit activity without a negative impact on its turnaround times.

Dallas Builders Association (DBA) Executive Officer Phil Crone has called on Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD) to perform an in-depth stress test on its building permit process to determine if staff can handle an uptick in inbound construction permits once favorable market conditions return.

The City of Dallas currently takes in between 200 and 250 permit applications each month. And while DSD has done a decent job managing that level of inbound permit volume as of late, he asked what happens when the market shifts.

If Dallas performs a stress test, it will offer greater insight into DSD’s ability to handle an influx of inbound volume closer to 300 to 400 per month, Crone said.

In practice, the stress test would serve as a forward-looking evaluation of DSD’s capacity to review and issue single-family building permits within the department’s allotted 15-day performance window, which Crone told CandysDirt.com “would be worthwhile now before the market picks back up.”

With the launch of DSD’s residential permit activity dashboard in January, the local development got a much-needed peak behind Dallas’ building permit process.

Even though local builders are reporting faster turnaround times, Crone suggests that if inbound activity suddenly returns, the development community could get stuck with the same higher costs and ballooning budgets that frustrated them all through 2020-2022.

Single-family permit turnaround times under City Manager T.C. Broadnax have been a significant issue for the development community for some time. Crone recently highlighted this at a DBA panel in March, with directors representing Dallas, Irving, Celina, and Denton.

“Every day of delay costs $200 to $300 per project,” Crone told Candy’sDirt.com. “Getting out [permits] in two weeks as opposed to three or four months is a lifesaver,” he said.

Crone also shared this same observation with The Dallas Expressnoting in a previous interview how essential it was for construction permit times to stay down to prevent a negative financial impact on a builder’s timeline or budget.

Since taking over Development Services last summer, DSD Director Andrew Espinoza has made a number of improvements to the department and, in only half a year, managed to clear Dallas’ infamous residential permit backlog.

“Just about everything is coming out in about a couple of weeks, especially from builders who know the system and its nuances,” Crone told Candy’sDirt.com.

Crone suggested that most of DSD’s current problems stem from the confluence of two or more different departments. When multiple City entities are needed in the plan review process for certain development items, “you often find gridlock,” he said.

Development Services should go beyond the recent recommendations listed in the study from the Matrix Consulting Group and house as many services under Development Services as possible.

Crone identified one urgent fix in particular.

“Too many different departments are interacting with each other during the building permit process, which can leave builders stranded at inopportune times,” Crone said.

“What I want to see is Development Services become the go-to place for all services related to development in Dallas,” said Crone in a recent interview with The Dallas Express.

Crone will be stepping down from his role as DBA executive officer at the end of July for a position as vice president at Leading Builders of America (LBA).

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