It takes a village - LOURDES GARCIA, BUILDING INSPECTOR
Last updated 8/25/2021 at 2:31pm | View PDF
If there's a new pergola, patio or pool being built anywhere in Hinsdale, Lourdes Garcia knows all about it.
As the village's building inspector and code enforcement officer, it's Garcia's job to see that every project is being done properly and with as little inconvenience to neighbors as possible.
An employee of the village for about eight years, Garcia said she never dreamed that a job managing a large apartment building in Woodridge would lead to where she is today.
"It was a very troublesome property that I had to basically turn over," said Garcia. She worked with Woodridge village officials not only to improve the 376-unit building under her care, but to improve conditions in apartment buildings throughout the village. After helping the village develop its multifamily license program, they offered Garcia a job as supervisor of the program.
"It got my foot in the door," she said. By the time she left the job 10 years later, she was the village's building inspector and code enforcement officer - the same positions she holds today in Hinsdale.
A mother of four, Garcia was busy raising her children when Robb McGinnis, a former colleague and Hinsdale's building commissioner and director of community development, called and offered Garcia a job. With two children in college and two in school full time, Garcia said the time was right.
While studying marketing and communications in college, Garcia said she never expected to end up in a job that involves building codes and job site inspections.
"It just happened, and I ended up loving it," she said.
Much of her time is spent out in the field visiting with construction teams and homeowners. Every morning she inspects projects in a portion of town, making sure construction sites are being property managed and upheld, with a focus on minimizing a project's impact on neighbors. When a neighbor has a complaint such as excess debris or work that starts too early or goes too late, it's up to Garcia to manage the situation. She said the ability to speak both English and Spanish is a big help when it comes to communicating with construction crews.
Garcia handles the village's hardscape projects such as backyard improvements, while the village's part-time building inspector typically oversees building construction.
"We've seen more construction during COVID," Garcia said, noting that as people spend more time at home, they are finding ways to fix up their houses and yards. She said there currently are hundreds of construction projects in progress within the village.
Even when peak construction season comes to an end and the weather gets colder, Garcia said there is plenty to keep her busy. One of her winter duties is to catch up on vacant home registrations. She sees that those that are registered as vacant are properly cared for and that homeowners who haven't registered their vacant homes do so.
"I drive the village and look for homes that are suffering," she said. As a result, she knows every corner of the village, and a lot of residents, as well.
Time spent talking with Hinsdale residents is one of the things Garcia likes most about her job.
"We have great residents and we have a great community," she said. "It's nice to come to work when you enjoy who you work with and for."
- by Sandy Illian Bosch