“I was told by a wise friend that if you wish to change something, get involved! So I did,” said Ravi Shah. “Bringing prestige and networking opportunities while raising the profile of our Members is an ultimate goal of mine.” Under Shah’s leadership, the Carrollton, Texas, Development Services Department created a seamless development process management system that reduces potential negative impacts of compliance with city requirements.
Ravi Shah is not your typical Building Official. For one thing, he’s Director of Development Services for the City of Carrollton, Texas, where he manages all Planning, Building Inspection and Transit-Oriented Development. And he has this wild idea that Carrollton can help attract business by marketing its streamlined building process that, as he says, puts all aspects of the governmental entitlement process “under one roof and through a single point of contact.”
Carrollton’s Development Services has created a seamless development process management system that reduces potential negative impacts of compliance with city requirements. Such a developer-friendly process centralizes management and oversight of commercial development projects through a single chain of command, improves the business flow, and emphasizes the importance of timeliness in managing commercial projects in a competitive marketplace.
As a result, projects are proactively managed in one department—from initial permit application submittal, through plan review, to permit issuance, through all inspections, to final CO issuance, and to two-year maintenance bond approval—in an accelerated, organized progression through the municipal system.
“My role has always been one to streamline governments at all levels,” said Shah, a Code Council Board Member elected in 2008 and again in 2011. “The idea is, ‘How can we make our services faster, flatter and friendlier and still make sure everything is safe?’”
As a result, the city and people wanting to do business are partners with the same goal in mind: safe construction with as little delay as possible.
“That way, the business can start making money, and the city can start getting the tax revenue so much more quickly,” he said. “Ultimately, the sooner the permit is issued and the site is built and occupied, the sooner that site is added to the tax rolls, which benefits the city as well.”
Shah, a Zambia native with bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas in Architecture and Business Administration, has been with Carrollton since 1993 when he started as a Plans Examiner. He moved on to Assistant Building Official, then to Building Official and then to his current position in 2006. But it was during the decade or so before that as a design architect he saw how often plans, good plans, were stymied by sluggish local governments that had developers with cash in their hands waiting months as they danced from department to department.
That’s when he decided to help create a department that would handle the various certificates “from the street to the roof. That’s good for the business and good for us. The sooner they get the certificate of occupancy, the sooner we get it into the tax base. We are not a regulatory agency, we are a business unit.”
Shah decided to take his business to ICC, wanting to do more for the code community at large. It was natural for him, then, to run for the Board.
“I was told by a wise friend that if you wish to change something, get involved! So I did,” Shah said. “Board service allows Board members to work on issues they care passionately about. Helping Members achieve their professional goals is of great importance to me. Bringing prestige and networking opportunities while raising the profile of our Members is an ultimate goal of mine.
“Serving in the capacity as a member of the Board of Directors, I can exercise my leadership attributes for the purposes of achieving organizational success one Member at a time.
Shah, the inaugural recipient of the ICC’s Code Official “Raising the Profile” Award also was named the “Building Official of the Year” by the Construction Research Center at the University of Texas at Arlington. He has two “Excellence in Service” awards in recognition of exemplary dedication and professional service to the City of Carrollton. He has authored several technical and management articles and was instrumental in updating the Building Department Administration book for re-publication in 2007.
Shah helped create the organizational structure and was founding chair of the Region X Coalition, as well as past President of the Building Officials Association of Texas. He served on the Board of Directors of the ICC subsidiary, the International Accreditation Service, and was appointed to the Commission of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations by Gov. Rick Perry.
Shah also was a major player in one of the most important accomplishments for the Code Council: development of the International Green Construction Code (IgCC). He chaired the Sustainability Building Technology Committee of 29 experts in the green and sustainability arena, drafting the first version of the IgCC. He is delighted with the committee’s work and the wide-ranging results that cover all aspects of green construction.
“The IgCC provides a road map that jurisdictions can use to incorporate green components into existing or developing building codes,” Shah said. “Adopting and enforcing the IgCC will drive safety and sustainability in such human-built structures as homes, office buildings, and schools by ensuring integration with other International Code provisions and by providing criteria that have been reviewed by experts in sustainable science, safety, and building performance.”
And potential users shouldn’t be thrown off by the magnitude of the IgCC, he added.
“Nobody says you have to use it all,” Shah said commenting on the enormity of the work. “It’s like a cafeteria menu. Do you need an ordinance on solar cells? Rainwater harvesting? Just go to the IgCC. ”
Almost as wide-ranging are Shah’s outside interests, which include golf, traveling to different parts of the world and the Dallas Cowboys. He also travels each year to Colorado where he hikes to various ghost towns and to many of the “fourteeners,” mountains at least 14,000-feet high.
Shah is happily married. His two daughters, Symran and Serena, are also avid golfers who play competitively in youth tournaments.
Shah is proud of his work in Carrollton and with the Code Council, where he also serves on the ICC Board Budget Committee.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Shah said, “but we’re making a lot of progress.”