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

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Being a structural engineer and lecturer in engineering here in Australia, I can
agree with your comments 100%.

I recently did some computations for an architect who, with the aid of our
timber framing manual design tables quoted the wrong bearer sizes. First and
formost these required designing and could not be selected using the tables.

Even upon using the tables his procedure was wrong. Therefore an architect
is not trained in selected sizes but merely showing us plans, elevations,
sections etc...

Here in Victoria we are going through what I believed happended in the USA
some years ago and failed ( could someone send me further information), that
is private certification. Councils are in competetion with private building
surveyors and inspectors and the is system is bound to fail because how can
you knock back a client who gives you the majority of your work ?

George (PE Austraila)


At 10:45 AM 8/06/96 -0700, you wrote:
>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" fee's. 
>In my estimation, this is tantamount to a proctolgist practicing brain 
>Our professional community has no business passing blame when we allow 
>codes to be written that permit non-professionals from designing and 
>building structure - as occurs in the conventional framing section of 
>the code. To make matters worse, the code lacks discussions and details 
>for the connection of shear elements at diaphragm levels (interior 
>braced panels). All the work that we do as a community is negated when 
>ICBO provides inadequate instruction for the construction of a LOW RISK 
>type of structure - yet we all get laid on the carpet when this low risk 
>structure costs the insurance companies millions.
>Another burr in my butt is the concept that Structural Observation is 
>the cure-all for poor construction. The state licensing board for 
>contractors does not test the applicants ability to understand and 
>interpret code. There are no questions on the exam that test the 
>applicants ability to know how structural elements are to be connected 
>for resistance to gravity and lateral load. 
>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 pesimistic 
>on this trade, but after looking at a thousand or so dammaged 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.
>We need to stop ICBO from giving technical information to non-technical 
>people. Then we need to correct the mistakes within the code before it 
>gets published - or expect the engineering community to review and 
>recognize these errors before they occur. And finally, we may need to 
>standardize construction notes and detailing within the community to 
>assure uniformity in the field. This does not preclude choice, but is 
>meant to minimize damage.
>One final word. The code has historically turned it's back on 
>residential wood framed construction since it was considered low risk. 
>We can be fairly sure that a wood framed structure built even to the 
>current conventional framing codes will not collapse. The problem is in 
>the cost of repair and the devestation that damage has to the homeowner. 
>We live in a time where the high cost of materials and living can be 
>just as devestating as total destruction.
>Now I will get off my high and mighty - this is a very emotional issue 
>to me - especially when I have to justify this to a contractor who has 
>been doing things the same way for 20 years without a complaint!!!!!
>Dennis Wish PE