Dallas’ building permit department has eliminated the maximum square footage requirement for its paid expedited review service.
The Development Services Department (DSD) — the agency in charge of issuing building permits in Dallas — has announced that its Rapid Single Family VIP Program (RSVP) will accept applications and review plans with no cap on square footage. To qualify for RSVP, DSD previously required a maximum of 3,000 square feet for new single-family homes (excluding duplexes).
The policy was updated in an attempt to improve local permitting times by creating “additional plan review options” for the community, DSD said in its Service First Bulletin #201.
DSD’s RSVP is an expedited plan review process that was created by the department in September 2022. The program is designed to facilitate the issuance of new single-family (NSF) permits on the same day an application is submitted and paid.
RSVP entails a minimum fee of $200 per hour for qualifying projects and is available to any registered developer, homeowner, architect, engineer, or contractor.
The maximum square footage limitation for NSF dwellings was removed on December 28 — the agency’s latest effort to reduce operational inefficiencies related to plan and permit submittals.
Fixing Dallas’ broken permitting system and reducing permit cycles is the responsibility of several local officials, including Chief Building Official & DSD Director Andrew Espinoza, as well as Assistant DSD Directors Samuel Eskander and Vernon Young.
But the burden of delivering a workable solution ultimately falls on Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, who has failed to find a fix.
Although axing the maximum square footage requirement is expected to alleviate pressure on department staff and help reduce permit congestion, it does not fully solve the city’s burdensome backlog or its current staffing shortage.
What the program does do, however, is leave certain budget-sensitive builders out of the process.
As previously reported by The Dallas Express, DSD’s RSVP is mainly suited for builders and developers who can afford the added costs.
Additionally, Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association, a 500-member trade association, suggests that DSD’s RSVP is equivalent to getting skipped in line at a theme park.
“Imagine spending hours standing in line under the hot sun waiting for your turn to get on the roller coaster,” Crone said.
“Now imagine someone cuts in front of you and hands the ride operator $200 to skip the line. That is what the Department’s program feels like for many people standing in the proverbial line,” he explained.
Despite modest efforts at reform like updating the RSVP requirements, Dallas still shows a nearly 43-day turnaround time for NSF permits, according to historic permit data found in DSD’s December newsletter.
The following updated parameters have been set to qualify for RSVP:
- The project must be a new single-family home (excluding duplexes).
- No minimum or maximum square footage requirements.
- Maximum of three (3) stories (no basements).
- Must not be in a special overlay district (Historic, Floodplain, Conservation, Complex PD, or Shared Access).
- Property must be platted or have early release approvals.
- Applicants must complete a permit submittal package.