ICC Members: Shaping the safety of the world around us — Gerard Richards
Code professionals ensure building safety today, for a stronger tomorrow. As the individuals behind modern codes and standards, these professionals are responsible for ensuring the safety and compliance of codes and standards, shaping the safety of the world around us, and serve as the safety foundation for our buildings. They don’t just ensure that buildings are constructed to withstand the stress of everyday use, they are behind the security and stability of every building. They specialize in preventative measures to help communities weather unforeseen natural disasters and ensure that first responders have less to worry about and can do their jobs safely. Code professionals are an essential piece in the building and construction puzzle and are engaged in the building process from the initial building plan to the finished product.
The International Code Council is a member-focused association with over 64,000 members dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures. They protect the public through their commitment to building safety; enforce code compliance to empower and educate stakeholders across the built environment to embrace and integrate safety standards in their work; support economic development by making our buildings sturdier, and therefore longer lasting. Their knowledge, skills, and abilities impact every building, in every community.
The Code Council recognizes the importance of continuing to grow awareness of the important work that code professionals do and the impact they have, in the hopes of encouraging aspiring building safety professionals to join in on the building safety movement. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Gerard Richards to share his experience in the industry, highlights of his professional career, and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry and the future of building safety.
Building Inspector II
City of Gilroy
Gilroy, California, United States
International Code Council member for seven years
Monterey Bay Chapter
BSJ: What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
Richards: I was an inspection coordinator with Solar City. I was encouraged by many of the building inspectors I encountered in the field to become a Building Inspector myself.
BSJ: What three things do you need to be successful in this industry and in your profession?
Richards: One, patience and understanding. Two, code knowledge. And three, common sense.
BSJ: What role have mentors, advisors or your network played in your career?
Richards: I was encouraged by many inspectors to pursue this career path and as such, I received many ride-along inspections. This experience was invaluable as it gave me real-world experience in the role of an inspector. I developed an understanding of my role as an inspector and also the role at times of educating the public.
BSJ: What led you to become an ICC member?
Richards: I found the organization to be well informed and structured for growth.
BSJ: Are you involved in any ICC committees or councils? Do you have any ICC certifications?
Richards: I am not involved in any ICC committees. I am a full Combination Building Inspector II with eight certifications.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Richards: 30 years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Richards: I have seen major changes to electrical safety (AFCI & GFCI). Title 24 and energy efficiency now play a major role in plan review and construction.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Richards: Energy storage systems, EV charging systems, PV & Title 24.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Richards: Tune in and listen when someone is speaking to you. Each person you encounter is his or her own person. Treat them as individuals. Be a part of the solution, not part of the problem. Know your code.
BSJ: What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
Richards: How unsafe and complacent individuals can become in order to get the job done faster.
BSJ: What would you like to do next in your professional/personal life?
Richards: I will retire as a building inspector/plan reviewer.
BSJ: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Richards: In my personal life, I enjoy spending time as a landscape oil painter. I would like to devote more time to that vocation. I am also an avid car enthusiast. I currently own a 1969 El Camino fully restored.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Richards: Common Sense, How to Use It!
There’s a world of opportunity in being a member of the International Code Council. Membership provides the tools to get the most out of each workday: from discounts on essential International Codes and other publications to the best prices on top-quality training and ICC certification renewals, Code Council membership helps budgets go further. Exclusive member benefits include code advice from expert technical staff as well as access to member-exclusive news and articles at the Building Safety Journal news portal. Plus, only Code Council members vote in the ICC code development process. An online Career Center allows job postings and searches for new job opportunities — all at no additional charge.
The Code Council offers numerous councils, committees, and resources to help code professionals grow and network with colleagues. Six discipline-specific Membership Councils offer members a place to come together and be a more powerful force in shaping your association, your industry, your career, and your future. Code Development Committees are an instrumental part of the ICC code development process and are responsible for the review and evaluation of code change proposals submitted to the International Codes. Professional Development Committees serve to better align the ICC education programs and certification programs to ensure that quality training is available to meet the needs of all members, customers and certification holders. Finally, the Value of the Code Official toolkit helps members to heighten awareness of the importance of code officials to their communities and to highlight the code official’s role as a helpful advocate for community safety, health and welfare, and economic development.