Faces in Focus: City’s chief building official, architect of permit center to retire | NevadaAppeal.com

Faces in Focus: City’s chief building official, architect of permit center to retire

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Phil Herrington, buried in building plans at his office, will retire from the Carson City Building Department Friday. Herrington helped make the permit center what it is today.

After more than a decade as the city’s chief building official, Phil Herrington will retire Friday.

Herrington, 69, devoted much of his work life to public service. Before coming to Carson City, he worked for the city of Reno for about 25 years, where he started out as a building inspector. He also worked for the state of Nevada and in the private sector for a while.

He has served on an array professional building associations to help create and interpret codes. And Herrington was one of the first nationally certified building officials in Nevada.

Part of his role with the city was to manage the Building Permit Center, which is a self-supporting government service.

It was established in 1998 as a standalone site for people and businesses to obtain building permits.

“It’s an important job,” Herrington said. “And it’s a balancing act.”

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He is credited with making the center a successful city service – a unique set-up for a city of its size.

The center recently was the subject of an audit, the results of which were mostly favorable.

A longtime Reno resident, Herrington has taught thousands of young people across the region about the ins and outs of the construction business.

His classes at the University of Nevada, Reno; Western Nevada Community College and Truckee Meadows Community College have covered such topics as comprehending construction plans, understanding government, and how and why the government regulates building construction.

A Madera, Calif., native, he became interested in building codes while attending UNR. He got into the profession because of an interest in architecture.

At the same time, he began working with a structural engineer.

That combination of disciplines allowed him to see both sides of the construction business and helped him see how important building codes were in ensuring public safety, he said.

Public safety needs to be paramount. Building codes that are stringent enough to protect the people who use the buildings also must be easy for developers to understand, he said.

And if the rules are too stringent for the developer to make a decent profit, he might go elsewhere.

Poor service from the government about where a building is to go up could drive potential developers to other communities, which translates into potential tax dollars going elsewhere, he emphasized.

In retirement, he plans to do “everything I couldn’t do when I was working.”

“I promised myself to have fun,” he said.

Herrington is married with three grown children. When not at work, he has coached Reno youth football and swim teams.

n Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.