New Building Official Brings Refreshing Energy

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Friendly and knowledgeable, Routt County Regional Building Official Todd Carr has infused refreshing energy into the hard-working building department since his arrival in July. 

“Todd is decisive and concise, modest, professional, refreshing and forward-thinking,” said Malea Michael-Ferrier, a department permit technician. “He is an excellent leader and isn’t afraid to get in the trenches with the rest of the team. He has already implemented some process changes and tweaks to move the building department to be more efficient and better serve the public.”

Moving with his wife and two young children from Dubuque, Iowa, Carr said his family experienced a smooth transition because of the warm and welcoming local community. The 42-year-old department head formerly served as the building official and facilities manager in Iowa and has a background as a healthy homes inspector and a construction specialist in the Dubuque Housing and Community Development Department. He began working in residential construction at age 17, started his own construction company at age 24 and spent two years building homes in Hawaii.

Carr is helping the local construction community with a smooth shift to the updated 2015 building and energy codes that took effect January. 1. His days are busy, but he is quick to point out that everyone in the department works just as hard.

He took time to answer some questions about goals and plans for the department, which serves the City of Steamboat Springs, unincorporated Routt County and towns of Oak Creek and Yampa.

Q: What are the key challenges, large and small, in the building department currently? And, what would you hope the community could better understand about these challenges?

A: The biggest challenge in any building department is taking time to provide outreach, education and support to the public through all stages of the permitting process while still effectively meeting workload demands and producing high quality service.

Our goal as public servants is no different from a private business owner. It is our job to sell these services versus regulate or enforce them. We take a great deal of pride in the service we offer, and our goal is to assist, guide and provide helpful resources to our local construction economy playing an important role in the success of each project.

Q: What are the most important aspects that builders and subcontractors need to master related to the 2015 building and energy codes?

A: The Building Department plays a critical role in providing education and support to our local contractors, and establishing a strong working relationship with the Yampa Valley Trades Association will make this transition much smoother. We need to focus in on the significant changes to the code, and primarily this is tightening up the building envelope and utilizing mechanical ventilation in lieu of natural ventilation and utilizing new products available to assist them in the energy code updates. Our advantage in the delay of the code adoption is that statistics and data already exist. So now we don’t have to re-invent the wheel but simply follow in the pathway to success.

Q: The majority of construction work in Routt County must be permitted through the building department, however what types of construction work do not require permits?

A: We have information posted on our website titled “Work Exempt from Permits,” both residential and commercial, at www.co.routt.co.us/DocumentCenter/View/6393

Q: What role should the building department play in the valley’s construction community?

A: The building department is one piece of the local construction economy pie. We need to be a strong advocate and supporting member of the Yampa Valley Trades Association. An effective trades association involves all sectors of the local construction economy; all members are equally important and need to provide support by utilizing their own strengths. Building effective working relationships between all private and public entities leads to better overall construction projects.

Q: What important steps have you instituted or plan for the near future in the building department?

A: We have implemented a new plan review timeline process per type of building permit and worked effectively with all other county departments, City of Steamboat Springs, and outside agencies and towns to create this new process and timeline. In the past we had a standard 10-working day review process; we now have certain building permits we can issue over the counter or the same day. We have another category of building permits that we can issue within five working days, then all other new construction or major additions are set at 10 working days.

We are working hard to guide the public through the permit application and review process and provide them with up-to-date details on where their application is from start to finish. A successful plan review process will lead to a successful construction project for all parties involved, avoiding time delays, change orders and conflict in the field between the public and private sector.

Our goal is to break down the Permitting, Fee Structure, Plan Review, Inspection and Final Inspection processes into individual pieces to guide the public through each phase versus providing them with one large manual to read through. As public servants it is our obligation to provide one-on-one service when variables arise.

Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of your job as building official?

A: Playing an integral part in the success of many different areas of construction on all of our local building projects. Working side by side with dedicated Routt County individuals and organizations both on the public and private side sharing the common goal of successfully supporting our local construction economy and creating safe, well-built structures for all of us to enjoy. Exceeding the public’s expectations for service.

Q: What do you like to do in your time off from work?

A: Staying active with my family and friends and taking advantage of all the different outdoor recreational activities that Routt County has to offer–explore, explore and explore. Hanging with great neighbors, wonderful kiddos and lots of dogs up on Mountain Vista Circle.

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