Accela helps reduce building permit issuance time and streamline review, approval and inspection process for contractors Located near the southernmost tip of Texas about 10 miles from the Mexico border, McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County with a population of 130,000. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal ranked the McAllen MSA as having the best housing market in the nation. Like many municipalities, the City of McAllen was experiencing rapid growth in 2006 and struggled to keep up with the demand for new building permits. Internal plan reviews required 4-5 sets of construction documents, and inspectors had to carry original building plans with them in the field for reference. Builders and contractors expressed frustration with turnaround times, which took up to three weeks for residential permits and up to two months for commercial permits.
HOW ACCELA EMPOWERS MCALLEN The City chose Accela’s land management solutions for building permits and inspections, planning and zoning, and environmental health and code compliance. McAllen selected Accela based on usability, functionality and support; online access for internal staff and citizens; GIS integration; and mobile capabilities for real-time inspections in the field. Automated workflows eliminate interdepartmental inefficiencies and a lack of transparency. Electronic plan review provides automated routing to multiple departments and allows concurrent reviews so that each department is looking at the most updated document. This passes on additional savings to contractors by only requiring one set of construction documents. Empowering mobile employees with real-time data has greatly increased productivity, particularly for building inspectors, code enforcement officers and health inspectors. Through Accela Mobile Office and integration with the agency’s Esri GIS solution, inspectors can visualize work orders on a map and plan their routes to be more productive and efficient in the field. Using Microsoft Surface Pro tablets, inspectors access all documents required for permit approval and enter inspection results in real time, which also saves time and money for builders and contractors.
THE BOTTOM LINE With Accela, the City of McAllen was able to reduce permit issuance time to keep builders doing what they do best. According to Luis Vasquez, Chief Building Official for the City of McAllen, “Thanks to our Accela solution, we were able to reduce turnaround times for residential permits from approximately three weeks to three days and for commercial permits from two months to 5-10 days.” Additionally, McAllen has improved internal auditing processes. The solution automatically assesses the appropriate fees and records all actions and changes, such as voiding a fee or issuing a permit before the fee has been paid, providing a historical archive and accountability.