AHIT helped me become the FIRST building inspector for the Jicarilla Apache Nation! I became an inspector after spending more than two decades working my way up the ranks in construction on and around our Reservation.
Shifting into Building Inspection
I began my career as a carpenter helper back in the early 1990s, when I was just 20. I worked on a crew of over 20 people and, together, we built residential homes and the occasional office building. We did everything except install electrical and heating systems, both of which were left to outside contractors. After a few years, I became a lead supervisor for a crew of six where I oversaw the construction work, attended meetings, handled project blueprints, and mentored and took care of my crew.
Eventually, I climbed the ranks to oversee a crew of 20, handling renovation projects for residential and commercial buildings. I oversaw the whole package—from ordering materials and tools to securing safety equipment and vehicles to managing our projects from start to finish. By this point, my construction career had spanned carpentry, plumbing, electrical, heavy equipment operation, earning a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), welding, working with blueprints, metal fabrication, management, and more.
One day at a Nation Council meeting, there was a discussion about a need for someone to oversee the contractors who regularly came to work on our Reservation. Up until that point, no one had been overseeing them and there was concern that we could easily be taken advantage of.
Word travelled that I had a great deal of experience in construction. I shared the details of my construction experience with our Nation Council leaders, and they decided to create a position for me as a building inspector. I had to get trained up and certified fast, so I Googled “building inspector training” and AHIT was the first thing to pop up.
Training with AHIT
When I first met AHIT Instructor Chris Kjeldsen at an onsite class in Denver, he made me feel extremely comfortable as an AHIT student—and the only Native American—in his class. I learned so much in AHIT home inspection training, including what to look for during inspections both inside and outside of a building, how to write up an inspection report, and how to present myself as an inspector. During that first month, I called Chris for everything, and he was more than happy to help me with my questions.
After completing AHIT training, New Mexico required me to take the National Home Inspector Exam, which I did while everything was still fresh in my head—and I passed!
Working as a Building Inspector
Now I’m the first and only building inspector for the Jicarilla Apache Nation. I’ve worked as a building inspector for four years (and counting) on our Reservation in Dulce, New Mexico. I have my own office and my own work truck, and I have meetings with contractors at the beginning of each week. Some days are slow, with only one inspection, but others are busy with three or four inspections throughout the day.
My schedule has also become more manageable now compared to the long hours I previously worked in construction. I have more time with my family, including my wife and three children, and for my service as a cultural clan leader. My father and I both serve as cultural clan leaders for our Nation’s annual Go-Jii-Ya Apache Feast Day.
I want to thank Instructor Chris and AHIT for all they have done to get me where I am today! Anyone who wants to become a building inspector can thrive with training from AHIT. I’m proud to be using these skills right here at home and proud to serve my Nation in this role.