Meet Teresa Gerber
March is National Women’s History Month. As part of this celebration, we want to recognize women making history in the building safety industry. Meet Teresa Gerber, Chair of the ICC Property Maintenance and Housing/ Zoning Exam Development Committee, AKA Code Hero.
Teresa is currently a Building Inspector III for Chesterfield County, VA. She is primarily a Property Maintenance Inspector and fills in on performing new construction building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing inspections as needed.
This is the first in our series of profiles of faces behind the codes. We asked Teresa a few questions on her choice of career path and her passion for building safety.
AC: What was the path to your career- how and why did you pursue a profession in codes enforcement?
TG: I can’t say I had a path – it was more an evolution. I started as a permit clerk because it was 8-5, M-F, paid holidays and vacation. At that time I didn’t even know you needed a permit to change things in your own house! From there I progressed along to zoning enforcement, zoning plan review, planner, private inspection verification, property maintenance, Section 8 housing inspections and new construction. I also have served in multiple capacities with local, state, regional and national level ICC and ICC related organizations. I think knowing that I could always be involved, learn more and try something new was a big part of my progression.
AC: What are your passions about what you do? What do you see as potential challenges?
TG: Because property maintenance is such an expansive arena – it affects every existing structure – I feel like I’ve contributed something – to the property owner, the tenant, the neighborhood. There are so many areas for you to expand your knowledge base in this field that it’s never boring. I think one of my biggest concerns is the lack of new (yes, ok, younger) people not joining the industry as often. I’ve never met an inspector or plan reviewer who does not like to share their knowledge.
AC: From your perspective, are there challenges for being a woman in the building industry? Do you think there are special skills women can bring to the table?
TG: When I first started and went to an ICC conference, I was asked “Who does your husband work for?”, since I would usually only see a handful of women who attended because it was part of their job. That has changed significantly. As far as distinctions to being a woman in a male-dominant field, there are many. I am noticing customers seem to appreciate a female inspector more often, which is very gratifying.
I believe a woman in the field can often bring more balance and empathy to a situation, while at the same time, we are just as knowledgeable and efficient as our male counterparts.
AC: How many certifications do you hold?
TG: I currently have six ICC Inspector certifications in Property Maintenance, Zoning and Residential Building, Electrical, Mechanical and Plumbing.
AC: Why are you involved in an Exam Development Committee?
TG: I initially applied to be on the Property Maintenance and Zoning EDC to test my skills and add my point of view to the committee. I have since learned from every person I have served with on the committee over many years. We all have experiences that make us better at our job, and if we listen to the experiences of others we continue to expand and enhance our knowledge. Because our committee members hold such a wide range of knowledge, the examinations we develop reflect the critical tasks of the actual profession.
I am also on the Property Maintenance and Zoning Code Action committee. I feel that participating in what goes into the code helps steer it for future inspectors. Even just listening to debates over code changes can help you understand and look at things from many angles. And because technology and products are constantly evolving, participation on the committee is also a great learning process.
AC: When your hardhat is off, what do you most enjoy?
TG: I love to cook, quilt, garden, travel and not limit myself by adhering to the “I only…” theory. Life is a twirl and we should enjoy all of it.