Local Spotlight: Mike Metheny, Snowmass’ new chief building official

Mike Metheny, the new chief building official for Snowmass Village, sits at a table outside of Snowmass Town Hall on July 27, 2020. (Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun).
Maddie Vincent/Snowmass Sun

For a bonus Local Spotlight this month, the Snowmass Sun sat down with Mike Metheny, the new chief building official for the village and former chief building official for the city of Aspen:

Snowmass Sun: How long have you been living in the Aspen-Snowmass area?

Mike Metheny: Actually I grew up between Glenwood and Carbondale and still live in Carbondale.

SS: What made you want to be a chief building official, how’d you get into that?

MM: Well, I had been in construction for years and had a family and wanted to have some more steady time, more predictable time off. So that’s what made me make the switch to the building department side of the thing instead of actually doing the building.

SS: What type of construction did you specialize in?

MM: Residential primarily.

SS: Can you briefly describe what that shift was like?

MM: It’s a lot of testing. You have to get all of these certifications through the International Code Council, which is the group that develops the (building) codes, so it’s a lot of testing, you go and take your exams and then you can be qualified to be a residential inspector and then you go take a different exam and you can look at commercial spaces. So it’s a series of tests that you do. And then eventually you can sit for the chief building official exam, which is a series of three tests.

SS: And were you a chief building official anywhere else before you got to Aspen?

MM: No, just Aspen.

SS: How long were you working in Aspen?

MM: Fourteen-and-a-half years.

SS: And what was it like being the chief building official there, what did you learn that you hadn’t known before?

MM: Aspen is a great place, good place to work. You get to see such a variety. Like if you were in Parker, or somewhere like that, you would get these big housing developments where it’s a number of plans that are all very similar and you might have six different house plans and 300 homes. Everything is unique and different (in Aspen), as it is here. The houses here are very unique and generally speaking you don’t see the same thing over and over again. It’s not track homes.

SS: What made you want to transition over to be the chief building official here in Snowmass?

MM: You know, there are a number of things. I’ve known Mark Kittle (the Snowmass chief building official who just retired) for years and he just thought this was the greatest place to work and everybody that you talk to in the organization just raves about what a great place it is to work. So I thought it sounded like something that was a very good fit for me from the descriptions and conversations I had. I just thought it might be an ideal fit for me. I guess that remains to be seen because I’ve only been here for three weeks but so far, so good. It’s just a great atmosphere and seems to be a great organization.

SS: Is there anything about the job here that sticks out as being different (from the job in Aspen) right away or that you didn’t anticipate?

MM: It’s a smaller department, quite a bit smaller. But I knew that coming in. There’s a greater emphasis on residential construction here. My involvement up there was a lot on the commercial side, not that residential wasn’t happening it was just that I was involved with the commercial side a lot. This organization affords me the opportunity to get out of the office whereas it was pretty much in-office in Aspen. I can get out and look at the projects and actually help folks here.

SS: What are your goals as chief building official moving forward here in Snowmass?

MM: The reputation in the community development department here, and that is actually for the town itself, is for outstanding customer service, and my primary goal is to maintain that same high level of customer service that the folks here have always enjoyed. That’s our biggest goal is to help folks build something that meets the code but yet is what they want. We’re in the business of helping folks. And then you know, as a building official you’re always aware of the life safety in the built environment, which is also always a priority for us.

SS: Is there anything else that you want to add or that you feel like is important people understand?

MM: I want folks to know that I’m available. They can come talk to me anytime, they’re welcome. I know we’re kind of closed up right now, but barring that they should be able to reach me any time and I’m happy to help.