Carrasco joins City staff as inspector



When Elias Carrasco walks into a restaurant or business, he can’t help but notice things that might not be quite right. When his two young daughters began pointing out potential code issues to him, he knew maybe there was too much code talk going on at the dinner table, but it still made him smile.

Liberty Hill’s new building inspector, on the job since January, faces a loaded schedule every day, but he loves the environment in town and the ability to work hard, but still put an emphasis on his family and personal life.

“You have to be happy where you work, and I’m definitely one who goes to work to be happy and I’m not going to make my life miserable,” he said. “Everyone here is super nice in Liberty Hill, and super helpful. If you have something you need help with or you don’t understand, they’re all so eager to help. It is so small we can actually say it is like a family and I really enjoy that.”

His work in municipal service began in Odessa, where he was born and raised, in the city’s water department in 2005. He moved to code enforcement in 2007, and then in 2012 found a job in Hutto and moved his family east.

He continued to gain experience in the fast-paced growing environment of Hutto, and he sees some parallels between that city when he arrived and Liberty Hill today.

“What happened in Hutto, five years ago when I got there, is a lot of what is happening here,” Carrasco said. “Here it is a lot of residential growth. Hutto is getting a lot of commercial growth now, we’re just not there yet.”

When he heard about the position open in Liberty Hill his interest was piqued.

“I came down and talked to Sally (McFeron) and Barbara (Zwernemann) and Greg (Boatright) and it sounded like a really great opportunity,” he said.

The role in Liberty Hill is pretty straightforward but not simple – try and tame the ever-growing list of residential inspections.

“Right now it is really all about residential,” he said. “I take care of the residential part of the building inspections. The workload for residential keeps me very busy.”

The list of daily inspections ranges from 30 to 40 per day with work in Larkspur, Orchard Ridge, Liberty Parke, Stonewall and anything inside the city limits.

“I do everything from a plumbing rough to a foundation inspection or temporary power, those kinds of things are pretty standard,” Carrasco said. “You know what to look for. The frame inspection is a little more difficult because I go back to the plans. It is really up to the engineer how difficult he wants to make it. That’s really where the time is spent. It is definitely challenging to get it all done, but a lot of the ones we are doing are quick. We rarely get so many frame inspections per day.”

While he pores over plans for framing inspections, he tries to focus primarily on whether the work meets the plans lined out by the engineers.

“At the end of the day he signs his name to it,” he said. “The engineer has a greater degree than I have and he has a lot more initials behind his name than I’ll ever have so I am definitely going to listen to what he has to say.

“If I go into a house and say, ‘You don’t need this or you don’t need that’, you are essentially taking over that design from the engineer, and the City should never redesign a house. If we have an issue with it we can call that out during the planning phase, they have to own that design.”

More than a decade of knowledge helps Carrasco make quick work of many of the inspections.

“I think anyone with a background in construction, it is definitely easy for them to look at something and say ‘that’s not right. I don’t know why it’s not right, but looking at it I can definitely tell there’s something wrong,’” he said. “That’s when we need to look at the plans to see how to make it right. Anyone with that construction background can identify something like that.”

A continued focus on education has also helped Carrasco hone his skills.
He recently passed the Certified Building Official exam, a three-part test through the International Code Council.

“It has a legal module, a management module and then a code module,” he said. “The last part I just finished was the code module, and every code book ICC makes was part of that test. It was 80 questions and a two-hour test, which was open book, but the answers could come out of any of the books. It was definitely one of the hardest tests I’ve ever taken in my life and not a lot of people pass it the very first time they take it. I studied really hard and was lucky enough to pass it.”

Being able to focus on building inspections rather than code enforcement is a welcome change as Carrasco settles in Liberty Hill.

“I came from a code enforcement background,” he said. “That’s knocking on people’s doors, telling them their car they kept from their grandfather so they could fix it up for their two-year-old kid was a junk vehicle. Knocking on somebody’s door as a code enforcement officer is a challenging thing because you never know what you’re going to encounter.”

Today, he feels he is part of something exciting and new for people when he shows up to work.

“As a building inspector, when you knock on their door, they’re happy to see you because you are taking them on to the next level and you’re helping them improve their property, whether it is a brand new swimming pool or a new house they are about to move into,” Carrasco said. “You’re helping them bring that dream to life.”