By Tony Parra
The city of Portales hired a new building inspector, Billy Roach, and after earning his certification he’s been playing catch-up by inspecting buildings and granting licenses.
Economic Development Director Darla Wilhoit said Roach was hired on April 5 and gained his certification from the Construction Industries Division of New Mexico last week in Santa Fe. She said Monday was the first day he could inspect buildings and issue licenses. City Manager Debi Lee said on Monday contractors were waiting to get licenses issued and it would help the city’s budget a little to grant the licenses.
“It’s been frustrating for us (city officials) and for them (contractors),” Wilhoit said. “We’ve been inundated with requests. It’s been really busy this week.”
Former building inspector Doug Rapp resigned on Jan. 23 to take a position as a state inspector. The city had no one to inspect buildings and grant licenses since then to contractors. Wilhoit and Roach said contractors could have gone through the state to gain permits, but said it was a time-consuming process. Contractors needed to send in applications to the state and compete with all of the other contractors in New Mexico for their time.
“They’re real happy to see me,” Roach said about the contractors. “The phone wouldn’t stop ringing. I’ve been going around town and spreading the word.”
Roach said in the first two days they have granted approximately 15 permits for roofing and new homes.
Some of the contractors which have gained their permits were Roy Rackler for Rackler Construction and Danny Heflin for Heflin Construction, according to Roach.
He also said he’s been dealing in correspondence with Wal-Mart and Town and Country on remodeling projects.
“I’ve been going around to make sure everyone is getting permits,” Roach said. “We encourage everyone who is working on something to come in and get building permits. For the low cost, there’s no sense not to have one.”
Roach said the cost of a permit depends on the value of the job. He said up a permit for a project to $8,700 is $35, up to $9,000 is $36 and up to $10,000 is $40 for example.
Roach said contractors must also have electrical and plumbing inspectors inspect their projects. He said they come from the state department once a week to do inspections.
Wilhoit said the first application process, which took place in early February, only resulted in three applicants.
“In the first round we had three applicants, but none of them met the minimum qualifications,” Wilhoit said. “We had to reopen the application process.”
Wilhoit said they were able to receive eight applications in the second application process and a four-member panel of Wilhoit, City Manager Debi Lee, City Clerk Joan Martinez-Terry and City Public Works Director Tom Howell conducted interviews of three of the applicants. Calls were made to Portales contractors, but were not returned.