Paradise Valley Independent

The Independent interview: Bob Lee

Paradise Valley Building Official Bob Lee in his office at the Town of Paradise Valley Thursday, June 8. (Independent Newsmedia/Terrance Thornton)

Looking out for others appears to be the professional calling for Paradise Valley Building Official Bob Lee.

With a steely gaze and manicured mustache stolen from the grit of all things Americana, Mr. Lee is oftentimes the first and last to sign off on the internal integrity of a new or remodeled structure within the Town of Paradise Valley.

Mr. Lee also serves as both the Paradise Valley Fire Marshal and emergency manager.
Following two tours as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War and an architectural degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Mr. Lee has been, at times, traversing the world’s continents building things.

Bob Lee

Mr. Lee has held titles as diverse as “laborer” to “superintendent” on projects from sewage treatment plants to high rises scraping the clouds that would pass by.

In the private sector, he has worked across the western United States, in Honduras, in Saudi Arabia and in the Philippines.

But for more than 20 years, Mr. Lee has been dedicated to making sure the buildings and dwellings within Arizona landscapes are safe and appropriate for the site where they will ultimately stand.

He has been a plans examiner, a building inspector and a Building Official for Flagstaff, Prescott, Cave Creek and Paradise Valley. He has been the Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Building Codes Committee, president of the Central Arizona Chapter of the International Code Council and the chair of the Arizona Building Officials, twice.

The Town of Paradise Valley Independent reached out to Mr. Lee to better understand the man behind the marshal’s badge. This is what he had to say:

Questions:

•You’ve been around the Town of Paradise Valley for quite some time. Can you tell me, from your perspective, how the town has evolved during your current tenure with the Town of Paradise Valley?
The evolution has been one of incremental changes to a more finished municipality. The Doubletree Ranch Road project and more recently the 56th Street Road projects are examples of the change.

•What do you think is the most impressive fact about the Town of Paradise Valley?
The residents of Paradise Valley really care about their town.

•How has the building of structures changed over the years in the Town of Paradise Valley?
One of the evolutions in Paradise Valley that I’ve noticed is that the homes have moved from predominantly Tuscan to a modern style.

•What’s the most important aspect of your job?
My department and I are charged with making sure that the buildings are safe. We take that responsibility very seriously so each inspection we do is very important.

•What do you dislike the most about your job?
Sometimes the workload can get to be a bit much and it is tough to do the kind of quality work we would like to.

•In terms of building safety, what do you think is the biggest issue you are seeing in new construction builds or home renovations?
Energy conservation has entered into the building codes in recent code cycles. While some jurisdictions are trying to use a limited version of the requirements, the builders in Paradise Valley are generally ahead of the curve far enough that the market driven energy conservations measures are ahead of the code driven ones.

•What do you like most about your profession?
People in the building safety business are there because they are concerned about the people around them. This passion is evident throughout the profession.

•What has kept you at the Town of Paradise Valley?
Working with some friendly dedicated people has made the job worthwhile and rewarding.