Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...
Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: addseaoc(--nospam--at)euken.com
- Subject: Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame
- From: rlewis(--nospam--at)techteam.org (Richard Lewis)
- Date: 30 Jul 1997 14:30:35 GMT
In a message dated 97-02-28 02:00:29 EST, RLFOLEY(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote: << Since building officials see plans and calculations daily, and if they are qualified to make such judgements, I think it would uplift the profession if they were to report to the Board of Registration, engineers that submit projects which are clearly below the standard of care and/or contain gross errors or omissions.>> Been there, done that, with nothing to show for it. BORPELS has very few investigators, and they mostly concentrate on cases involving unlicensed practitioners, deceptive advertising, or unethical business practices. Incompetence charge cases, almost never. Gross errors occur, but are rarer than you may believe. The most common occurrences of unprofessional practice involve project documents that are sloppily and incompletely designed/detailed, show evidence of obsolete or shaky technical understanding and assumptions, are poorly drafted/laid-out, use boiler plates, many of which are not customized to the project, etc. Such products likely would fall into your "clearly below standard" category. But standards of care occupy zones that are not demarcated by bright lines in the sand - that's why so many torts are fought over the issue in other areas. BORPELS investigators know from experience that charges based on substandard performance are more likely to be contested, have lower chances of winning, and are more time-consuming and costly to prosecute. The low priority assigned to such complaints is understandable given the fiscal constraints BORPELS operates under. <<I have a feeling that many building officials are not adequately trained to make such judgements. I would like to hear your further comments.>> Unfortunately, I have to agree with your feeling. But my experiences, and those of a few other building offcials who have made referrals to BORPELS, all have been negative ones, so I doubt many more referrals would be made even if the pool of "adequately trained" buildings officials is larger. First, you have to document a history and pattern of substandard work - an isolated example is unlikely to be adequate (the engineer could claim temporary stress, a bad hair week, anything). That takes staff time to keep records and/or do research. Then you have to deal with the subpoenas, depositions, and possibly go to Sacramento if hearings and/or trials take place. In one case, I was subpoenaed to produce plans and records in my department's possession for projects that were sealed by licensed professionals on all permits issued over the previous 5 years (the attorney obviously wanted to establish how low the standard of care was, as well as to harrass me). This was before the recently enacted statute that allows government agencies to recover actual costs in complying with a subpoena. The jurisdiction was SF, so you can understand the volume of research/clerical work and documents this would have entailed, and why I told BORPELS I wasn't going to pursue the case anymore. There's a second and more significant reason why building officials don't get involved on this issue - there's nothing in it for most of them. Structural engineers may assume the UBC, and especially the structural chapters, show up front and center on the radar screens of building officials. But that's far from the case. There are many areas that are of greater concern to building officials because these have more and louder supporters or enforcement teeth. Some examples: Getting high levels of compliance with Title 24 accessibility regulations to ward off complaints from activists, or worst, from legal action by the activists or the Attorney General, is an example. Did you know that the CEC randomly performs office and field audits on how well building departments are doing in getting compliance with Title 24 energy conservation regulations? Perhaps you are not aware of the extent of tensions between buildiing and fire officials over code interpretations, extent of field compliance, and turf fights. And as a last example, most building departments have the very thankless and no-win responsibility of enforcing housing and zoning codes on existing buildings. Code enforcement cases create disproportionate time demands as the building official attempts to balance unhappy neighbors who have enlisted the help of elected officials, against reluctant and angry owners. In contrast, buildings that are structurally marginally in compliance with the code, or even out of compliance, seldom become issues, and even rarer cause problems that lead to headlines. Even major disasters in this country don't make a strong case, statistically speaking, for giving higher attention to making structures safer. In Loma Prieta, fewer than a dozen deaths occurred as a result of building collapses and falling debris from them. The number for the Northridge event was under 30 (the higher figures seen in the media include non-structural causes, such as heart attacks and falls caused by the events, and in the case of Loma Prieta, from the Cypress Freeway collapse). Contrast these numbers with the 10+K fire deaths annually to get another perspective of the relative focus that building officials might give to fire and structural safety. [Note: reductions in property damage and business losses through better design are coming into increasing focus, but those are separate issues]. The bottom line is that building officials who wade into the engineering competence issue would be diverting precious resources from other issues that have much greater potential to get them into the headlines and/or in trouble. Sorry to be so blunt. Hope this dose of reality isn't too bitter or difficult to swallow. Franklin Lew, SE --- Internet Message Header Follows --- Received: from server1.seaoc.org (bqe.com [220.127.116.11]) by host1.texramp.net (8.8.5/8.8.5) with SMTP id PAA05289 for <rlewis(--nospam--at)techteam.org>; Fri, 28 Feb 1997 15:57:35 -0600 (CST) Received: from emout06.mx.aol.com by server1.seaoc.org (NTList 3.02.10) id sa004984; Fri, 28 Feb 1997 13:46:58 -0800 Received: (from root@localhost) by emout06.mail.aol.com (8.7.6/8.7.3/AOL-2.0.0) id QAA05070 for seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org; Fri, 28 Feb 1997 16:44:13 -0500 (EST) Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 16:44:13 -0500 (EST) From: IteUrsi(--nospam--at)aol.com Message-ID: <970228164413_1947425926(--nospam--at)emout06.mail.aol.com> To: seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org Subject: Re: building code minimums for wood frame Reply-To: seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org Error-To: seaoc-ad(--nospam--at)seaoc.org X-Loop: seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org X-Info: [SEAOC] Owner: seaoc-ad(--nospam--at)seaoc.org X-POP3-Rcpt: seaoc-ad(--nospam--at)seaoc.org X-Sender: seaoc-ad(--nospam--at)seaoc.org Precedence: list X-ListMember: rlewis(--nospam--at)techteam.org [seaoc(--nospam--at)seaoc.org] __________________________________________________ Richard Lewis, P.E. Missionary TECH Team rlewis(--nospam--at)techteam.org The service mission like-minded Christian organizations may turn to for technical assistance and know-how.
- Prev by Subject: Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame
- Next by Subject: Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame
- Previous by thread: Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame
- Next by thread: Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame