When Dallas City Council members convened last week, they were given an update on the state of the inefficient building permit process in the city.
The backlog of permits has been the root of much frustration for developers in Dallas, who are unable to see returns on their investments because they cannot even begin construction.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, building permits in Dallas were issued on the same day, said Kelly Reynolds, a local developer with Keen Homes.
It took an average of three days for the City to approve a Single-Family Residential (SFR) permit in Dallas in 2019.
In 2021, it reportedly took five months for Reynolds to receive a residential building permit. More recently, it took 10 weeks, he said. According to the latest DSD permit data, the process now takes an average of 40 days.
According to Reynolds, construction costs are simply more expensive when dealing with delays of this nature.
“The prices of material and labor have stabilized, so it’s up to us to get it built quickly to avoid the additional interest carry,” he said.
These long issuance times can cost developers large sums of money while their projects sit on hold, according to Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association (DBA).
About 80% of DBA members report an average permit delay of 10 weeks, Crone told council members during Wednesday’s session.
City leaders need to run the departments that are most critical to economic development like a business, and it needs to be entrepreneurial, Crone said.
“Currently, we can’t measure the most important bit of data on all of this, like, ‘How long is it going to take for your permit?’”
In a previous interview with The Dallas Express, Crone told the publication that he had heard complaints from builders who’ve been stuck paying upwards of $200-$300 per project per day until they were issued a permit.
This does not consider the exorbitant fees for Dallas’ expedited permit service, which has a minimum expedited plan review fee of $200 per hour.
Neither City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who identified the building permit issue as a top priority in his 100-day performance improvement plan, nor Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson were present at Wednesday’s meeting for the latest permit discussion.
Mayor Johnson was reportedly at home taking care of his sick children and Broadnax was apparently out of town, each of them missing one of the last meetings of the year regarding the City’s permitting issues.
I’ve built in Dallas for 30 years and its almost always been torture going to the permit office but at least at one point you could waive plan review (I’m not sure if thats still an option but hit should be). This allowed the permit to be issued quickly with a cursory review of the most important issues like meeting zoning for location and confirming its size, set backs, height restrictions, etc are not violating code. Inspectors will still inspect during construction making plan review redundant and unnecessary in my opinion.
I wish inspection’s could be done by insurance companies that would insure the houses are built to code and limit the permitting the City of Dallas does to review of whether the building is allowed by the zoning district and whether it meets, size, height & setback restrictions. This would drastically speed things up as insurance companies would be competing for the service and since they would be insuring the building meets code, they would have a vested interest to not only get a house built to code (or even better) but get it done fast and economically in order to serve their customers. A component of the policy could include covering the cost of demolition and grading the lot if somehow a property was built that did meet code which the insurance company would also have a vested interest in making sure that never happened.
It would also give buyers comfort to know the best builders can continue to get the best insurance and weed out the ones that cannot
At a bare minimum, plain review waiver should be an option which would make same day permitting possibly for new construction.