The Key West Weekly bumped into the Chief Building Officer for the city innocently enough during an inspection of the contracting work for our new southernmost office. 

John Woodson has been with the city for four years, checking the work of the plumbers, electricians, masons and dry-wallers. His job is to make sure the work is done up to code by licensed contractors. The key word is “licensed”.

“We are having a big problem right now,” Woodson attested. “Illegal work is worse now than it’s ever been. The code enforcement, the building department, they’re doing what they can to ensure licensed contractors are doing the work.”

Licensed contractors, such as Tommy Haskins with Haskin’s Plumbing, have a lot of overhead.

They can’t compete with guys working “out of the back of their truck.” 

When the job entails plumbing and electrical work, the issue becomes one of safety and putting lives at risk. 

“People who are not licensed do not get inspections,” he continued. “Plumbing and electrical needs to be done right. We spend 50, sometimes 60 hours a week on the job even though we’re salaried, to make sure we do whatever we have to do to get the job done right.”

“He’s easy to get along with, and he’s very reliable,” Haskins hammered in what a key player this man is to our city.

Woodson knows what the job entails on the other side of the drywall, paneling and electrical wiring. Before becoming the Chief Building Officer, he was a private contractor, two decades strong.

“This is just what I do. I get to work about 5 am, with my coffee from Five Brothers on Southard Street, and we sit on the picnic table behind the building department on Simonton Street and plan our day. I’m looking forward to retirement, but as long as the good Lord let’s me work, I’ll be working.”

Woodson has been married for 28 years to his wife Elaine. They have two children and one grandchild. When he’s not engrossed making sure our island is built under strict building codes, to ensure the community’s safety, he’s spending time with them.

“We go out to eat, to the movies. Nothing too complicated.”

Woodson’s wife has reason to unwind, too. She’s a Victim Advocate for the Key West Police Department and the City of Key West.

Disclosing that final detail, Woodson climbed back into his truck, and took off from our mid-morning interview. Just one man for whom you now know the name, face and title and is making our island the paradise we love to live in protected from unlicensed contractors and faulty work.


Dave Woodson has worked as the city’s Chief Building Officer for four years. Before that he was immersed in contracting work for two decades.  Don Woodson



Dave Woodson, Chief Building Officer for the City of Key West Don Woodson



• Husband
• Father  
• Grandfather
• Retired Contractor
• Logs 40 – 60 hours per week “Whatever it takes.”
• Manages a staff of nine
• Loves most about his position: “I like helping people and working with the customers to get things done!”
• Licensed: General Contractor, Plan Review, Building Official, Building Inspector, and State Roofing Contractor



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