, Newburyport, MA

January 7, 2013

Building commissioner to offer courses for contractors

By Jennifer Solis

---- — NEWBURY — Building commissioner Sam Joslin is offering professional development this winter for anyone holding a Mass. Construction Supervisor’s License. The 12-credit class can be accessed at several different venues, dates and hours in order to accommodate the range of schedules contractors follow.

Joslin said after the state adopted the international code as its 8th edition of the building code, there was an increase in the number of contractors coming into his office with “lots of questions” and appearing “at a loss” over how to apply the new requirements.

They were struggling to find time in an already busy work week to pore through the code books and get up to speed on the new laws, so the building commissioner found he was answering the same questions repeatedly. Once he began offering two-hour sessions on the new building code for local contractors, “ I was requested to do it again and again,” Joslin recalled.

Because of the popularity of the service, town leaders agreed to fund the cost for Joslin to obtain certification as an official code course coordinator when continuing education for all contractors became a state requirement on July 1, 2011.

Construction supervisors who seek to obtain or renew their licenses after July 1, 2013 must have earned 12 credits of professional development within two years. During the implementation of the new law, any qualifying course work previously taken by the state’s 65,000 contractors will count toward that requirement.

At the end of this month Joslin is offering a class at the Town Hall for two consecutive Saturdays on Jan. 26 and Feb. 2. The class runs for six hours per day and covers business practices; workplace safety; renovation, repair and painting on homes built prior to 1978; general code; and energy code. Four of the six hours focus solely on general code, he said. Cost for this offering is $100 with proceeds going back to the town. Joslin said in the year or so that he has been offering the classes, they have attracted between 25 to 60 contractors per session. The town was quickly reimbursed for any costs it covered for his certification after just the first class, he said.

He also has an agreement with Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School to run a three-week, four-hour class on Jan. 23, 28 and 30. Cost is $150 plus registration fee with more information available on the school’s website (

In April, Joslin will again be offering his two-day, six-hour-per-day class through the Massachusetts Building Inspectors and Commissioners Association. Cost is $100 with proceeds going to fund a MBICA scholarship.

At times, he also partners with lumber stores, such as Yankee Pine Lumber in Rowley, to run the classes, with the store providing the venue, the certificates and the coffee and doughnuts, Joslin said.

The building commissioner maintains that since he started offering the classes, many of his site inspections in town have already become more efficient because he and the local contractors whose work he is reviewing are all “working out of the same code book and using the same terms.”

It is easier to address issues or confusion over the updated code requirements in a classroom setting than it is to fix mistakes made later due to misunderstandings or misinterpretations, he said.

“If we’re all speaking the same language, it’s easier for everyone,” he has concluded.

To avoid any issues of conflict of interest Joslin asks that contractors interested in learning more about the various times and places his classes are offered contact him at and not use his town email address.