Building permits pour in as Austin booms, backlog ensues

AUSTIN (KXAN) — From October to this March alone, the City of Austin’s Planning and Development Review Department received between 3,000-5,000 permit applications each month.

Just more than a year ago, the city had to hire more employees to help clear its permit application backlog.

“We definitely have to tailor the design to work with what’s there,” said Dana Ambs, who runs Make Modern Home, an interior design company. She works with investors and homeowners to renovate properties.

Knocking out drywall, moving gas and electrical lines, and plumbing all require city permits.

“Typically, we try to keep our scope to a minimum to avoid those changes,” Ambs said, “so that we can avoid going through the permitting process.”

Liana Davis started a business called “The Permit Lady” 18 months ago around the same time the city’s planning and development review department was experiencing a backlog of permit applications.

“It’s a time consuming process. A lot of people don’t understand the process,” Davis said. “I just recognized that there was a need for that.”

She does the legwork so homeowners or builders don’t have to. Davis says considering the growth in Austin, there’s nothing to complain about.

“There is a bit of a backlog. There is a bit of a wait time,” she said. “But, I don’t think that it’s anything that’s extraordinary.”

However, for people like Ambs, it means work sometimes comes to a standstill.

“Although the city has done a lot to alleviate the long wait times we were having, it’s still a pretty long process to get the drawings approved–a few weeks usually. And, if there’s any corrections, it goes back to the plan reviewer for several weeks,” said added.

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