International Code Council member Paul Hughes
International Code Council members like Paul Hughes are the individuals behind codes and safety; ensuring building safety today and working for a stronger tomorrow
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 Paul Hughes 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.
Code Enforcement Department
Charles City, Iowa
International Code Council member for 25 years
Iowa Association of Building Officials
BSJ: What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
Hughes: My college degree was in teaching the building trades in the community colleges. I found inspecting to be enjoyable and makes you think as you dig into the code.
BSJ: What three things do you need to be successful in this industry and in your profession?
Hughes: 1. You must be able to work with all types of people. Don’t come off as a difficult person to deal with. 2. Put your educator hat on first and guide the permit holder to achieve the steps to completion. 3. Contractors need to be knowledgeable in performing the manufacturer’s installation standards. A smarter contractor makes the building official work harder in reading the code step by step. You can learn something that you did not know.
BSJ: What role have mentors, advisors or your network played in your career?
Hughes: You can’t learn the code by yourself. Attend conferences and find other inspectors in your same shoes. Talk to them or meet at lunch once a month.
BSJ: What led you to become an ICC member?
Hughes: Every inspector or building official needs to commit to the organization to make it part of who he/she is.
BSJ: Are you involved in any ICC committees or councils? Do you have any ICC certifications?
Hughes: I did when I was younger. My certificates are CBO, residential building, electrical and property maintenance inspector. I am ready to retire and my supervisor wants me to train the next inspector for 30 days before I leave.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Hughes: Twenty-five years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Hughes: The materials changes in each material and how it should be installed. The permit software is an excellent way to make it more accessible.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Hughes: The younger individuals that will take over.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Hughes: Don’t get upset if you had a bad day. You need to have leather skin some days. If you make a mistake, go back to the contractor and apologize, don’t text or e-mail if you can meet soon.
BSJ: What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
Hughes: It’s different every day. Plan on getting interrupted all the time. Make priorities and have time alone to review permit applications.
BSJ: What would you like to do next in your professional/personal life?
Hughes: Continue attending meetings if I can. But I would like to make furniture and help the veterans and elderly in town.
BSJ: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
Hughes: I like to read and help the wife with jobs around the house.
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title would be?
Hughes: I hope it would be that he had a job that nobody wanted. “Paul works with people to make their project a reality.”
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.