Building Officials

Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Building Officials

Building Officials…..these words alone spark fear in the hearts of some folks, although they shouldn’t. Your local Building Inspector or Plans checker is there to help make certain the next building project undertaken by you, your neighbors or friends is Code compliant – protecting the safety of those who will be future occupants of the structure.

I happen to have a particular fondness for Building Officials:

In a recent survey conducted by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) for the International Code Council (ICC) is was found 30 percent of all building safety professionals (your Building Officials) are planning upon retiring within the next five years!

Let this one sink in for a moment…..30 percent is nearly one out of every three!

Part of this is due to the greying of those in the profession, where over 55 percent of the Building Officials are 55 years of age or more. And, less than 16 percent are under age 45!

Interestingly, the survey reveals 57 percent of Building Officials work in departments with nine or less employees, with most having to perform multiple job functions – from plan reviews to field inspections.

These hard working folks are having to wear many hats!

Adding to the challenges of adequately staffing Building Departments are the number of building officials who were let go during the great recession, and did not come back when the building industry began to recover.

Maureen Guttman, president of the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) says part of the problem is also, “Municipalities can’t afford to pay a professional who really has the qualifications to do the work”.

Ms. Guttman also expressed concern for the under-staffing or nonexistence of code enforcement in several jurisdictions across the country, noting a lack of checks and balances for the building industry could have a grave impact.

In my humble opinion, jurisdictions should be encouraged to invest the appropriate resources to maintain proper levels of adequately training Building Officials to protect their citizens and their citizens’ property.

One thought on “Building Officials

  1. I agree completely, but I’m wondering if the “municipalities not being able to afford them” might work in tandem with the older work force of building officials. Sometimes the higher paid private practices can be draining and intense. I know for my job I will seriously consider going to lower paid teaching or government work in my mid-late forties as a way to relax a bit while still doing my same field, and those I work with will have the benefit of someone with good experience overseeing them. I could imagine this being similar for building officials.


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