Dave Byl, Senior Plans Analyst

Dave Byl, Senior Plans Analyst
Posted on 05/16/2023

Growing up in a small farm community in Wellsburg, Iowa, Lenexa Community Development Department Senior Plans Analyst Dave Byl learned a strong work ethic by watching his dad, who was a factory worker, and teaming up with him to care for their small acreage.

“It was the best thing that ever happened in my life,” Dave said. “The hard work, the sweat and just getting after it.”

But Dave knew he didn’t want to be a full-time farmer as an adult.

“Being from a small town, I didn’t know what was out there,” he said. “If you didn’t farm, bale hay or work in the cornfields, what else do you do in life there?”

Dave knew he enjoyed being outside and working with wood, so he ventured to the University of Northern Iowa to pursue his bachelor’s degree in construction management. A few drafting and wood-working classes in high school sparked an early interest in the construction industry for him.

When Dave graduated from college, his plan was to move to Minnesota where he often traveled to. But there weren’t many construction jobs in the area at that time.

“I had heard of Kansas City, I just never knew my path would lead me here,” he said.

Since he wasn’t getting any job offers in Minneapolis where his friends were, he opened himself to new job opportunities south of Iowa. That’s when he came across a job opening for a local government agency in Johnson County, Kansas.

“I didn’t know what a building inspector was, but I was applying for anything at that point,” he said.

In 1989, an application to work for a local agency in the Kansas City metro led to 21 years of dedication to that one organization. When he arrived on his first day on the job, he was thrown right into his position.

“We got dropped off at a stick frame house that was ready for a rough inspection,” Dave recalls. “It had the electrical and mechanical — everything is done just needed the sheetrock and insulation — so you can look at everything and do an inspection. My supervisor basically dropped us off and said, “Do an inspection on this.”

Doing one walkthrough around the home and sitting on the stairs for the next two hours until their ride arrived to pick them up — Dave and his co-worker were at a loss. Once he was properly trained for his job, it came easy. Five years in, a new job opportunity in Plymouth, Minnesota, popped up.

“I denied it because I had a lot of friends here by then and I kind of established myself and really liked the area,” he said. “I stayed and here I am 34 years later.”

But in 2010, he got laid off.

“It was probably scarier than what it was coming out of college,” he said. “I was established there so now who’s going to hire me? It was a huge learning curve again.”

For the next five years, Dave worked at two other local government agencies before he landed in Lenexa in 2015 as a senior plans analyst.

In his current role, Dave reviews construction drawings for residential and commercial buildings for code compliance. This means he reviews plans that contractors eventually use to build from— like a new deck or an entire facility — to make sure structures are constructed per size guidelines and safety standards.

Dave Byl posing with co-workers at booth setup at the Lenexa Farmers Market.

When a plan is submitted, Dave and other staff (could be the fire department checking for fire codes or engineering looking for technical issues) have a set time period to review the plans and submit comments.

“You never know what your day is going to be,” Dave said. “You get thrown in many different directions which makes it interesting.”

From people trying to complete home improvement projects without a permit to maintenance issues with larger building structures in Lenexa, Dave and the Community Development department work hard to educate the public and enforce City codes.

“I like working with the public,” Dave said. “I like to take a project that might be a challenging project and work our way through issues and compromise to come to a conclusion. We’re out there to keep everybody as safe as we can. Pool permits, for example, are in place to make sure everybody stays safe, and kids stay out of the pool area to prevent dangerous accidents from happening.”

“We never hear of any building fires really in Lenexa,” he said. “Maybe some of that is due to how we’ve made sure everything is built to code.”

Dave received the Meritorious Service Award at the International Code Council's annual conference in Louisville, Ky., last year for going above and beyond in sharing his time and talent in the development of codes and standards for the community and the association.

Dave Byl receiving award from conference.

"I honestly love what I do and having the opportunity to organize trainings and professional development classes for other code professionals, is just another way I can share my passion,” Dave said. “Being recognized by that group of code professionals —my peers — was truly a moment I’ll never forget.”

Dave lives in Oak Grove, Missouri, with his wife, Lori. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time outdoors camping, biking, hunting, fishing and kayaking. He’s currently renovating his 1930s farm home his wife grew up in.

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Published May 16, 2023