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> From: tgstring(--nospam--at)
> To: Bill Allen, S.E. <ballense(--nospam--at)>
> Cc: seaoc(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: FW: American Engineers have it good?
> Date: Monday, April 21, 1997 7:25 AM
> >What I would like to see is for CE News to publish something on the poor
> >risk/reward most SEs face in the architectural market due to the loosely
> >worded and generous building codes and partly due to the professional
> >associations apparent lack of legislative motivation to protect the
> <Snip>
> >Once these issues are properly addressed, I believe the salary issue
> >take care of itself and the survey will be unnecessary.
> >
> >Regards,
> >Bill Allen
> Bill,
> Educate me. Is this (poor risk/reward) a problem throughout the U.S. or
> in CA? How are the building codes written, by whom? Who, or what group,
> the authority to change the UBC? If this group is engineering-based then
> News would be very interested in your suggestion. Otherwise, wouldn't CE
> News be singing to the choir?
> Regards,
> T.G. Stringer
Your second question is easier to answer than the first. The building code
that is applicable for the western US is the Uniform Building Code. This
code is published by ICBO. The technical sections of the code come from
various sources, the concrete section from ACI 318, the wood section from
NDS, the seismic section from the SEAOC Blue Book, etc. I am not certain
about the administrative sections addressing the issues of what license is
required to sign what plan, etc. As the technological sections advance to
reflect current research, the administrative sections have basically
remained unchanged with an exception to the "Structural Observation" topic
introduced in 1988. The code was still vague about who could perform this
structural observation, however (i.e., the Architect could to save bucks!).

With regards to whether this poor risk/reward ratio only exists in CA, I am
Cc:'ing this to the listservice so you can get responses from engineers
outside of CA for their opinion. While the code is the same for the western
US, it may be more critically interpreted here due to the seismic activity.
You see, it is a matter not only of how the code is written, but how it is
enforced. Hopefully, you will get responses from others who have
experiences, facts and opinions in their region.

While the UBC states that an Architect, Civil Engineer or Structural
Engineer can sign structural portions of plans (which makes it true for all
regions who have adopted the UBC), rules vary state by state on how one can
get an Architectural, Civil or Structural license. Here in CA, you don't
need a college degree to be an Architect. As of right now, you only need
two years of experience to sit for the CE exam. Yet, these folks can sign
plans and perform structural observation on just about any building in CA
including seismic zone 4. Pretty scary, huh?

As far as who has the authority to change the UBC, there is a process
whereby code changes are submitted to ICBO. These are reviewed and voted
upon. I understand the best way of submitting code changes is via a group
(SEAOC, ASCE, etc) to engage the support of more members. I may be lacking
in the procedural issues here for I have never submitted any code changes
myself. I believe there are others on this list service who are more
knowledgeable. One of the most daunting tasks is to get a concensus of
opinion. If you've been reading this list service lately, that is not easy
(except maybe for the exclusion of Architects practicing structural

So, I think there are several groups that need to be addressed. There is
the licensing board here in CA (BORPELS-Board of Registration for
Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors) who control how potential CEs
qualify for the exam, the CA legislature who control writing the B&P
(Business and Professions Code) and ICBO who publish the Uniform Building

No, CE News would not be preaching to the choir.

Bill Allen

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Subject: Re: FW: American Engineers have it good?
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Richard Lewis, P.E.
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