Building Safety Month: Meet Chandler’s New Building Official

May 11, 2021
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Communications and Public Affairs

Chandler’s Building Official is the leader of the Building Safety Division. The Building Official is the person responsible for overseeing all of the building plan reviews, building inspections, special industrial projects, inspections and unpermitted building enforcement in the City of Chandler.

Building Safety Month is an international campaign celebrated in May to raise awareness about building safety and its impact on building resilient communities. To celebrate, get to know Shicheng Tao, Chandler’s Building Official who has been with the City of Chandler’s Building Safety Division for almost 23 years.

Q&A with Building Official Shicheng Tao

Since January, Tao has been committed to helping the department grow and maintain the high standards Chandler is known for. After the retirement of his predecessor in 2020, Tao was selected to bring new perspectives and forward-thinking management to the Division.

Q: What work did you do for the City before becoming the Building Official?

A: Prior to working for the City of Chandler, I worked in the private sector for five years as a design engineer. I made the switch to the City in 1998 and began work as a structural engineer, which is less about design and more about review and analysis of buildings to make sure they are up to code. In this role, I examined plans for new construction and building alteration in Chandler, making sure all plans complied with City building codes and national standards.

Over two decades, I witnessed Chandler’s tremendous growth and development. Twenty years ago, Intel was the only major industrial employer in Chandler. Since then, we have seen huge changes to the number of industries and employers that have developed here and strengthened Chandler’s economic position as a City.

When the last Building Official retired in May of 2020, I knew this would be the next career move to take. I’ve seen where we’ve been and know where we are going as a City and a Division. Today, I am fortunate to work with such a solid team of Building Safety professionals on our Plan Review and Building Inspection teams and to manage the future goals of the Division.

Q: What exactly does Chandler’s Building Official do?

A: My primary function is to manage, direct and coordinate the activities of the Building Safety Division, which include building plan review, building inspection and special industry projects. Once in a while, we will also be involved with enforcement in the case of illegal builds when development projects move forward without being up to code.

Those are the primary important functions of this role, but on a daily basis, we interact with many different City departments and divisions. The reality is, we are just one piece of a much larger puzzle in terms of the City’s building development. To best serve the City’s customers — residents, businesses, developers, visitors, etc. — every single City department works together to make sure the rules and regulations in place keep Chandler running safely and efficiently for future growth.

I think professional growth and development are very important, no matter how long someone has been in their position. As the leader of this Division, I coordinate opportunities for staff to keep learning and training to stay on top of industry knowledge and certifications. Empowering employees to hone skills and leadership abilities better serves our customers and gives staff more opportunities to grow in the field.

Building Safety Team accepting the proclamation during a City Council meeting

Q: Now that you have had a chance to settle in, what plans do you have for the future of the Division?

A: Citywide and within our Division, planning for staff retirements is a large task. A high percentage of employees in the City are at or approaching eligible retirement age, which means we have to plan for ways to keep the Division healthy during a transitional period.

Right now, I am working with team managers to solidify plans for current long-term employees to train new hires before retirements. The goal is to keep some of that expertise and wisdom on the team even as people move on from their roles. Having a culture of mentorship among senior team members and new hires makes all the difference in the long run.

Learn More about Building Safety Month

Building Safety Month is an annual effort to drive awareness about building safety teams and procedures across the country, as well as emphasize the need for modern, adaptable building codes.

This year’s theme is “Prevent, Prepare, Protect. Building Codes Save.” Explore educational resources on a range of topics related to building safety from the International Code Council.