Building connections

Graduate Holly Brown ‘15 is putting her education to work as a building inspector for the City of Hamilton.

By Emmett Steele ‘22

If you’re constructing a building in Hamilton, you may have heard the name Holly Brown, two-time Mohawk College graduate from the Construction Engineering Technician - Building Renovation and Architectural Technology programs. As a building inspector for the City of Hamilton, Holly is responsible for ensuring that new buildings in Hamilton are up to code.

“We go in, make sure that whatever you’re building meets the minimum requirements of the Ontario Building Code, that you’re calling for the required inspections such as footings, framing, plumbing, HVAC—all that fun stuff,” said Holly.

“We also have to make sure that you’re conforming to the city’s bylaws. I’m pretty much on site all day with my boots and my hard hat, and it’s awesome.”

While she may spend her days going from one building site to another now, Holly hasn’t always worked for the City of Hamilton. She started her career in Haldimand County as a building technologist. “I applied for the job in December just before I graduated, and I got it two days before Christmas,” said Holly. “I started in January, so two weeks out of school I started my career. I was like ‘this is the best Christmas gift ever!’”

Holly worked in Haldimand County for just under a year, and it wasn’t long before she wanted to take the next step with her career. “I did my coop with the City of Hamilton, and I really wanted to get back here,” said Holly. “I applied in May of 2015 and was hired in July of that year. I’ve been here ever since.”

“Your name is everything you have. The more people who know your name, and know you do good work, will outlast everything else.” – Holly Brown ’15

She started with the City of Hamilton as a permit application specialist before becoming an enforcement building inspector, then landing a position as a building inspector, which she’s held for the last five years. “Right now, I’m inspecting the water treatment plant on Woodward Avenue,” said Holly. “Didn’t smell nearly as bad as I thought it would!”

When she thinks of highlights in her career, Holly looks back to when she was still new to the job. “Tackling some of the high-rises in downtown Hamilton while shadowing a senior inspector was amazing,” said Holly. “Seeing them build this structure right from the shoring and the underground parking garage, all the way up to the top.”

She also looks back fondly on the time she spent as a student at Mohawk College. “I took building renovation at the Stoney Creek campus, and that’s where I met my previous boss who hired me at the City of Hamilton for my co-op,” said Holly. “He was the one who introduced me to the Ontario Building Code, and he provided a real looking glass into my career that changed my life.”

Some of the most valuable lessons that Holly took away from her time at Mohawk College are ones that she hopes every student can learn from. “Make connections with the people around you, it makes things easier,” said Holly. “You can have study groups, accountability groups, you can bounce ideas off each other. Making connections with your fellow students is key.”

She also has advice for building renovation students, specifically. “Participate in extra programs, like ‘meet the contractor’ or the jury project for architecture,” said Holly.

“I met everyone who’s on the jury panel before starting my career, and I still communicate with some of those people. Your name is everything you have. The more people who know your name, and know you do good work, will outlast everything else.”