Associate degree was preparation for building inspector

August 27, 2013

From “Building inspector making Milwaukee ‘a better place to live'” — By Tom Dakin – By the time she was 8 years old, Stacey Tyler’s dad was taking her along to help out on handyman jobs he did in his spare time. Over 30 years later, Tyler is a city building inspector at Milwaukee’s Department of Neighborhood Services. Tyler, who jokingly calls herself a “professional household technician,” has worked at the department for 13 years and focuses mainly on inspecting residential rental properties.

On its most basic level, Tyler’s job involves making Milwaukee “a better place to live,” she said.

“I try to make sure that the constituents I deal with are living in places that have very minimal violations, and that there are no health and safety violations that would affect them, or their children,” Tyler said.

Tyler typically spends about half of her work day doing building inspections, with the other half of her day tied to writing reports to correct building code violations and other matters. She is currently assigned to an area on Milwaukee’s north side.

How did you get the job? Tyler was working at a medical company, where her duties included scheduling services for patients and ordering supplies. She saw a job description for building inspectors, and thought the work sounded interesting. Tyler was hired as a Department of Neighborhood Services intern, and after completing the two-year program was hired as an inspector.

What kind of education did you need? A high school diploma was required to become a department intern. The internship included taking courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College in such areas as technical math and architectural drawings.

Tyler also had practical experience in home repairs and maintenance. Her father, Robert, who died last year, taught her at a young age such tasks as preparing walls for painting and applying the floor seal when installing a new toilet.

As an alternative to the internship program, the department’s minimum requirements are an associate’s degree in the field of architecture, real estate, fire safety, environmental health, law enforcement or building trades, and two years of work experience in one of those specialties above the level of laborer.

What do you like about the job? “I enjoy going out and meeting the constituents. There are a lot of interesting personalities in the city of Milwaukee. And I have great co-workers. … I really like the fact that I can set up my own schedule. I like going out on my aldermanic walks because I can be heard by the people who have questions that need to be answered. It gives you a chance to be one-on-one with the constituents.”

What are some of the challenges? For Tyler, who’s a mom, perhaps the most difficult situation is when a family is displaced because she inspects a rental unit that has such serious health and safety problems that it’s not livable. That happens every couple of months or so, and the department works with Community Advocates, a nonprofit group that helps poor people on housing issues, to relocate the displaced families.

“You want to try to give the best help you can give them,” she said.

Is there a particular horror story the stands out from your 13 years in the Department of Neighborhood Services? About five years ago, Tyler inspected a property where the gas meters were pulling away from the foundation wall, raising the risk of a natural gas leak and explosion. The department immediately shut down the property, which encompassed over 20 rental units in four buildings.

“The situation was so horrible. All of those people had to be removed from the buildings,” Tyler said. “We had a little meeting on the front lawn and told them we have to vacate the buildings immediately. It’s difficult, especially when that happens so close to the time when they just paid rent. Their concern becomes where are they going to live, and how are they going to pay the rent for that month.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: