Inspectors follow plans and specs, and must have an eye for whether building components are installed as intended in the building codes. An inspector must be able to think on his or her feet in the field. Individuals with technical training and/or a work history in construction management, design, and the building trades often excel as inspectors. There is something fascinating about watching all kinds of buildings go from dirt to completion right before your eyes. Inspectors may hold a variety of different ICC certifications and trade licenses pertaining to their fields of expertise.
Permit techs are on the front lines of customer service. They generally tend the front desk of a building department and have the most direct interaction with customers. Permit techs receive applications, process, and issue permits. This requires technical expertise to determine if submittals are complete and consistent with the adopted standards. Often regarded as the heart and soul of a building departments, permit techs provide administrative and technical support for the whole department. Permit techs have their own local and national professional associations that promote education and certification.
Plans examiners are the first line of code-based quality control. They act as agents of the building official in enforcing codes and ordinances. Those with experience as engineers, architects, and construction managers make great plans examiners. Plans examiners are generally required to obtain one or more ICC certificates demonstrating proficiency in applying various codes.
The building official is the head of the building department. The codes state that the building official has the right and the duty to render interpretations of the codes. He or she has the authority to set policies and procedures, propose code amendments for the jurisdiction, establish fees, set the department’s budget, and make human resource decisions. The building official is expected to be a skilled manager, a mentor, a dutiful public servant, and a technical resource for the jurisdiction. Building officials typically have ten or more years of experience as a municipal inspector or plans examiner, or a combination of municipal experience and work in a related technical field, such as architecture, engineering or construction management. Most building officials have supervisory experience prior to taking the position. ICC certification as a Certified Building Official (CBO) is a sign of excellence in the field. Inspectors, plans examiners, and permit techs act as agents of the building official.