Permit expediters could play a more pivotal role in Dallas this year, given the local development community’s need for a swift and intuitive permitting process and Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax’s failure to deliver reasonable turnaround times on permit applications.
A permit expediter is a trained professional with the experience and knowledge required to enhance the speed at which city officials issue residential and commercial building permits.
Permit expediters typically have a professional background in planning, construction, real estate, or architecture, as well as hands-on experience working with city officials on local compliance codes and zoning requirements.
Local building permits are issued by Dallas’ Development Services Department (DSD), which is headed by Dallas Chief Building Official and DSD Director Andrew Espinoza.
Dallas’ building permit process, as it exists now, is rife with internal and external inefficiencies that have amplified the need for professional expediters who can ensure a client’s construction projects are on schedule and within budget.
Last year, members of the Dallas Builders Association, a 500-member association made up of local builders and developers, frequently reported wait times lasting 10 weeks or more, depending on the size and nature of a given project.
For comparison, just a few years ago, it was common for DSD to turn around a permit application in a single day, with the average length of time being three days, according to DSD’s historical permit data.
The local permitting problem became such an issue throughout 2022 that many neighboring cities, such as Frisco and Las Colinas, have gobbled up the lion’s share of development demand in North Texas.
In Dallas, Espinoza and DSD are responsible for processing the large intake of permit applications as well as issuing swift turnaround times to developers and clients.
In practice, Dallas’ current process often leads to drawn-out delays, increased construction costs, and a general air of frustration from the development community.
To work around this community frustration, DSD created its own permit expediting service called the Q-TEAM. The Q-TEAM is an alternate plan review process that allows applicants to pay a fee for an expedited plan review.
Instead of the same-day turnaround time that the local development community saw in the past, developers are now contending with an average issuance time of 43.75 days, according to the latest DSD permit data from the department’s monthly newsletter.
For developers that do not have the means and budget to support the substantial construction costs that correspond with extended permitting delays, a 43-day wait time may necessitate a permit expediting service.
Permit expediters offer a variety of services, but their primary tasks include conducting research on zoning, codes, and planning; coordinating with plan reviewers, clients, and building officials; reviewing construction drawings and other documents to ensure that they adhere to city code requirements; and meeting with city officials to complete pre-submittal reviews.
Ultimately, the responsibility for Dallas’ building permit woes falls on the shoulders of City Manager Broadnax, whose failure to resolve DSD’s issues effectively drives the demand for such expediting services.