Code enforcement officers generally work for city government departments. The job requires at least a high school diploma, and most municipalities seek candidates who have experience as an architect, electrician, plumber or construction supervisor. Code enforcement officers often work in the code enforcement office, but some cities hire officers for their building department or police department. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2010 median salary for building inspectors was $52,360.
Establishing Codes, Zoning and Ordinance Laws
Code enforcement officers assist in establishing zoning laws, city ordinances and building codes. They play a role in determining enforcement procedures, which includes setting fine amounts. To establish building code regulations and requirements, most code enforcement officers ask elected officials to adopt the guidelines of one or more written codebooks such as the International Property Maintenance Code book, which features specific requirements for minimum property maintenance, including the general condition of buildings, electrical and plumbing systems, and lawn care.
When citizens or city officials believe a property owner has violated the community’s ordinance laws, zoning laws or code rules, he may file a complaint with the code enforcement officer. This triggers a process. The code enforcement officer interviews the complainant and any additional witnesses, usually neighbors, about the issues of an allegation. If the officer finds a complaint credible, he opens a case and begins an effort to ensure that the alleged offender meets all ordinance and zoning laws and all code rules. Code enforcement officers keep complainants informed of their enforcement efforts.
Code enforcement officers inspect properties both routinely and as a result of complaints. They perform both drive-by inspections and interior inspections of buildings. Officers document violations by snapping photographs and taking notes. When code enforcement officers find property owners in violation of city ordinances, zoning laws or code requirements, they begin enforcement procedures based on the established local zoning laws, ordinances and adopted code regulations. Officers issue warning and re-inspect properties to determine whether property owners cured violations. If the violations still exist, the officer assesses fines that must be paid by the property owner. Fines often accrue daily until property owners are in compliance.
The code enforcement department serves as the permitting agency in some communities. Property owners seek permits when they construct new buildings, erect permanent signs, or install new electrical or plumbing systems. Officers review detailed site plans and issue permits if they approve of the work. During the permitting process, code enforcement officers ensure that all work meets the municipality’s ordinance and zoning laws and code requirements. Once construction begins, officers inspect the work to ensure that it follows the plans.
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