Five years ago, David Spider (Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate) attended one of the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition’s first inspector certification trainings. During this training he was introduced to the International Code Council building requirements. After completing a couple more trainings, he successfully passed the 60-question test within the allotted three-hour time limit and became a certified residential building inspector. An employee of the Sisseton Wahpeton Housing Authority, David’s certification immediately and directly benefited his tribal community.

“Since then, I have been able to inspect new housing projects, and we’ve had 57 homes completed over the last five years,” says David.

By having a local certified inspector, construction projects are able to be completed at a faster pace and with the assurance that the structures are safe and durable. A certified inspection is a requirement put in place by many lenders that finance the construction or purchase of residential homes. David says a lot of the inspections he does are for HUD 184 construction loans. He also does inspections for existing homes purchased by tribal members or any homes purchased with the new Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Down Payment Assistance Program.

In addition, David’s certification has opened more funding opportunities for his tribe’s housing projects. Having that additional qualification on their team makes their grant proposals more competitive.

“We are able to get almost perfect scores in the administrative category on our HUD grants due to the capacity of our team,” says David.

While the inspector certification exam is certainly challenging, David believes his engineering background and bachelor’s degree in civil engineering helped a lot. Because it is an open book test, the key is being able to flip through the book quickly. A solid understanding of the basic concepts and the ability to find topics through the table of contents and index is also a must.

David’s next career enhancing endeavor is becoming a certified general appraiser. Also part of the Coalition’s programming, the appraiser initiative aims to increase the number of appraisers that serve tribal communities throughout the state. So far, David has completed a beginning class and is planning to take several more. Once the class level is complete, he will apprentice with a certified appraiser for 1,800 hours. During that time, he will learn more and more about the job until he is ready to do it on his own. Eventually, he will achieve his own certification.

“I’ll gradually work up to becoming independent within three to five years,” says David.