The City of Dallas demonstrated this week that it’s taking building-permit delays seriously.

City Council members heard more than an hour of comments from building industry professionals during a hearing Monday.

The city had improved efficiency to where builders were receiving permits within a few days, but things went south after the start of the pandemic.

Residential permits now can take seven weeks, and the level of bureaucratic hurdles remains far above other local municipalities, homebuilders testified. Builders and developers said they are frustrated with technical issues, poor communication and a lack of information.

Custom home builder Jeff Dworkin said he recently took an $8,000 hit for interest and carrying costs on a project because his permit had been approved, but after that, it took two weeks to input the form for water and sewer.

“For a simple administrative task that takes 15 minutes,” he said.

The Real Estate Council estimates that about $31 million is lost for every three months of permitting delays, including $9 million in lost revenues for the city, said Linda McMahon, president and CEO of the professional association.

Things have improved since City Manager T.C. Broadnax hired a new “executive-in-residence” in August.

That’s Dallas native Will Mundinger, who was previously National Director of Development, Environmental and Construction Services at Goldman Sachs. Mundinger gave his first City Council presentation to the Government Performance and Financial Management Committee before Monday’s hearing.

Find the full presentation here.

A few highlights

First, the workload that’s taken at the city’s permit center in Oak Cliff.

The center receives more than 3,000 applications per month. The data below show that field inspections remain an efficient aspect of the process. Over 98% are done the day they’re called for or the next day, Mundinger said.

The average time it takes to issue permits for single-family homes has decreased significantly since Mundinger took the job in August.

Commercial permits have slowed, however. Permitting for shopping centers, apartments and offices is more complicated than homebuilding permits, generally, because they could involve a dozen permits instead of one.

Improvements Mundinger and industry professionals want to see


The city pivoted to virtual permitting systems after the pandemic. The new software, Project Dox, “was bolted together pretty quickly,” and staff training was rudimentary, Mundinger says. Builders say it’s difficult to use and doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders, since it doesn’t send out project updates.

“We are going to start implementing an updated version,” of the software, Mundinger says, and its rollout will include user experience tests. The city will also train outside users on the software, he said. The new version could roll out as soon as April.

The city also plans to update its Land Management Software.


The permit center has 33 job openings, which is too many to hire and onboard at once, Mundinger says.

So the city has prioritized 12 positions that they’re currently recruiting.

The current staff also needs more training in skills, management and customer service, he said.


The city should hire a top building official who answers for the entire process and can be responsible for implementing the changes the community is calling for. To that point, building professionals, city staff and Council members all agree.


Builders complain the permit center at 320 E. Jefferson Blvd. doesn’t house everything they need throughout the permitting process. Some permits require a stamped plat map, costing about $25 and retrievable across the bridge at the Renaissance Tower Downtown, custom homebuilder Mark Dann said.

Then the plat maps are virtually illegible because they’re from converted microfiche files, he added.

Several speakers suggested redeveloping the permit office and putting all of the necessary departments in one place.


Monthly statistics should be available on the city’s permitting website to show how long things actually take, which is something other local municipalities already do, according to The Real Estate Council. That group also called for a post-project survey to take comments on users’ experiences with the permit center.

City Council member Cara Mendelsohn, who is chair of the committee, said this was the first time City Council members have heard publicly from building-industry professionals specifically on this issue.

“It’s no secret that there have been challenges and delays in this permitting process for a long time,” she said.

Mendelsohn called the hearing to identify known problems and help staff prioritize them, she said.

Permitting delays affect construction jobs, affordable housing and corporate relocation, as well as property-tax revenue, Mayor Pro-Tem Chad West said.

“We’ve got to get this fixed,” he said.

Watch the two-hour hearing below. Mundinger’s presentation takes up about the first 15 minutes after the call-to-order, etc.