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[SEAOC] Re: [SEAOC] Re: [SEAOC] Structural Observation, Special Inspection issues

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In a message dated 96-06-08 14:01:37 EDT, you write:

>We all seem to be passing the blame between the engineer and inspector, 
>when, in fact, most residential construction was designed without 
>engineering. Often the architect becomes the professional of record - 
>again often doing their own calculations to support their "low" fees. 
>In my estimation, this is tantamount to a proctolgist practicing brain 
>How many of you have seen the bastardization of a plated roof truss 
>because the contractor ordered the wrong type of truss and rather than 
>eat the cost, decides to modify the truss by scabing on members - and 
>nailing them against the plated connection? I have! How many contractors 
>install shear panels over rigid insulation (Powerwall) - Plenty out here 
>in the desert!!! How may contractors install shear panels and then place 
>electrical, mechanical and plumbing equipment in large cut outs - 
>destroying the panel? Most do!
>How many know that a shear wall must connect the roof and floor 
>diaphragms to a the wall and a foundation or other resistance to uplift 
>Not many.
>The sorry fact is that most contractors think of shear walls as those 
>areas above and below openings that have plywood on them. Most of them 
>have no conception of why blocking is placed above a double top plate. 
>The think the purpose is to be used as a stucco molding or for nailing 
>Gypsum ceilings.
>Most contactors think that you can make a wall rigid by using a wood 
>post and putting a Simpson Holdddown on each side of the post - causing 
>a flagpole rigid design. I'm not fooling - a condo that I inspected had 
>the open front garages constructed this way - with living units above. 
>The plans called for another type of connections.
>My rule of thumb is that if the contractor can cut corners to get the 
>job done and get paid, he will do it. I am sorry to seem so pessimistic 
>on this trade, but after looking at a thousand or so damaged buildings 
>it becomes apparent that the real problem is not the engineering 
>community design standards - it is the fact that the state allows anyone 
>who can pick up a hammer and pass a test where the questions and answers 
>are available in any review course, to be licensed.
>Dennis Wish PE


So instead of bashing the engineers and inspectors, let's bash the architects
and contractors.  

Of all the parties involved, I think I would sympathise with the contractors
the most.  Every party to the work has a strategy to reduce their costs.  The
architect goes sub-shopping, looking for the cheapest structural engineer or
doing without.  The structural engineer minimizes the details on his drawings
and is hard pressed to make field visits since he often hasn't been able to
get a fee to do so.  And the contractor takes risks and shortcuts and hires
inexperienced workers to cut his costs.  The reason I sympathise with the
contractors is they are the only ones that are judged solely on their bid.
 For them, doing quality work does little good in getting the contract.  A
contractor that hires knowledgeable carpenters, that takes the time to get
the anchor bolts in the right location, that doesn't overadd water to the
concrete mix at the site, that makes sure the concrete slopes in the right
direction, that stays around for the time it takes to properly cure concrete,
won't be selected because his bid is $100 more than the low bid.  He is
trained to take shortcuts in order to survive.

Everybody loves to bash (me too!), but the reality is that most of the
architects, engineers, inspectors, and contractors want to do responsible and
quality job, but because of the restraints of our system, we end up finger
pointing instead of working together.

Carl Sramek

P.S.  Sorry, but my opinion is that the code has little to do with the
quality of the final product.  You can have the most airtight code, the most
airtight specifications, and the most perfect drawings that an engineer ever
dreamed of, and the quality of the work will still be dependent on the
motivations and diligence of the parties involved in building it.