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On 97-02-18 16:42:36 EST, you wrote:

>>The content of this article was in regard to the procedure by which
code-enforcement personnel could reject a rational analysis.  In other words,
what does a code-enforcement officer have to do (i.e. provide a signed and
sealed justification?) to reject the signed and sealed calculations/
documents of a professional engineer?<<

All the model codes have requirements for rational design.  UBC Sec. 1603.3.1
states: "Any system or method of construction to be used shall be based on a
rational analysis in accordance with well-established principles of
mechanics."  It goes on to some more specific issues, such as distribution of
horizontal shear, horizontal torsional moments, stability against
overturning, and anchorage.  Whether they have engineering backgrounds or
not, most building officials can understand and accept the rational analysis
approach as an alternative to prescriptive requirements in meeting the code.
 Unfortunately, "the devil is in the details" applies when evaluating the
adequacy of a design based on this alternative.  The issues are not the
principles of mechanics, but the broad-brush nature of the code requirements
that allow designers with varying degrees of knowledge, experience and
integrity to produce designs with varying degrees of safety, serviceability
and performance.  Let's acknowledge a reality: some "professional" engineers
who do building structural design are only marginally competent, or worse.
 This is especially so in those states that offer only the generic
"professional engineer" title, and someone with a highway design background
legally can sign and seal plans for buildings.  And being human, some
engineers will do the developer's bidding and produce inadequate designs
and/or rubberstamp the plans rather than lose the job.  In any given region,
there usually are a few such ethically-challenged individuals or firms that
wind up with a disproportionate share of the design work.  Some builders just
want minimal plans and calcs to pull permits and don't care about design
quality or details because they are going to build it the way they want to
anyway.  These spec and cheap-o builders quickly learn the identities of the
cooperative offices.

Building officials rightfully should be cautious about accepting rational
analysis on faith.  It is often the case that the motivation for using the
rational analysis approach is the "skinny down" the design, more often than
not resulting in a building with lower reserve capacity.  In some cases, an
engineer can get a questionable design approved by asserting his
"professional" status and intimidating the building official, especially one
who is not licensed.  The frustrated tenor of your posting suggests you may
have tried this approach and failed.  But building officials clearly have the
administrative authority to reject designs without providing extensive or
sealed justifications.  UBC Sec. 104.2.1 states: "The building official shall
have the power to render interpretations of this code and to adopt and
enforce rules and supplemental regulations in order to clarify the
application of its provisions."   And to be fair, it must be acknowledged
that some building officials and plan checkers are not technically competent
to pass judgment in some situations.  UBC Sec. 105.1 provides for a board of
appeals to hear appeals of decisions and determinations made by the building
official.  Hopefully, the local board members in your area are "...qualified
by experience and training ..." to make technically sound decisions.  Filing
an appeal is an administrative step that you must take before considering
legal action.  However, you would do well to get a third opinion on the
merits of your design from an impartial party before filing an appeal.

While the authority cited above refer to the UBC, the SBC has comparable
sections and requirements.  It's unlikely the Dade County Code has deleted
them, if that is the location of your project.

Franklin Lew, SE



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