ICC Members: The individuals behind codes and safety — Constantine Kayafas
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 Constantine Kayafas 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.
Wheeling, West Virginia, United States
International Code Council member for eight years
BSJ: What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
Kayafas: I was raised in the construction business and pursued a degree in architecture. I graduated from Kent State University and was licensed 3 years later in West Virginia. I am now registered in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
BSJ: What three things do you need to be successful in this industry and in your profession?
Kayafas: Know the client, code and budget.
BSJ: What role have mentors, advisors or your network played in your career?
Kayafas: My father was a master carpenter and successful businessman and taught me how to be both. My first boss in this profession was my mentor and owned a small firm. He exposed me to a wide variety of project types and still refers work to me.
BSJ: What led you to become an ICC member?
Kayafas: I found that interpreting the code has huge implications and I needed that voice of reason to sometimes confirm my assumptions. Other times I needed direction to work through complex building types and occupancies relating to mixed-use and/or area limitations.
BSJ: Are you involved in any ICC committees or councils? Do you have any ICC certifications?
Kayafas: I am not involved nor do I have any ICC certifications. Our location in the northern panhandle of WV does not lend itself to be too involved
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Kayafas: 35 years
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Kayafas: Building automation of course and the use of computers to design complex building shapes. The use of new building materials is always changing too.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Kayafas: The fact that we could actually design buildings that could be “Net Zero” energy is just amazing.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Kayafas: Be friendly with your local code officials and tradesmen. They need you as much as you need them. Don’t burn any bridges and you can learn a lot from each other.
BSJ: What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
Kayafas: There are more projects designed than are ever built due to lack of feasibility or funding.
BSJ: What would you like to do next in your professional/personal life?
Kayafas: I would like to do more projects for myself and be my own client and develop real estate
BSJ: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Kayafas: Working outside, timbering, gardening and coming up with innovating ways to be more self-sufficient.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Kayafas: “The Problem Solver”
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.