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Re: plan check ethics

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For small jobs, making arrangements for appealing a plan checkers ruling
through the Board of Examiners, or the like, would delay the job and cost
the engineer an even larger amount of time. Complaining to a plan checkers
superior can also label ther engineer as a trouble maker that could result
in future plan check overkill. 

Here is one of my experiences. I prepared structural drawings for a repair
of 25 LF of an existing 5 foot high concrete retaining wall located in a
basement that was along the property line adjacent the city sidewalk. The
existing wall was from 1919 and unreinforced but showed no signs of
deflection or movement, but was cracked and spawled. I specified a new
concrete wall and footing doweled in front of it, designed for 35 pcf. The
plan checker made me redesign the wall for 64 pcf  because it was not back
drained and I had to use 1000 psf bearing, .3 friction and 300 pcf passive
unless I had a soils report. The actual soil was a clayey rock. The footing
and reinforcing doubled in size and I had to place a 2'-6" deep key in the
footing that had to be jack hammered. When I came back to resubmit, the
plan checker was on break and another structural plan checker took over.
When he saw my design, he literally laughed at the over design and stamped
it approved, with no further plan check. This ended up costing the Owner a
lot of money. 

Since then I have had several other plan checks by the same engineer. 

Jeff Smith. S.E.
phone: (415) 543-8651
fax: (415) 543-8679
email: smthengr(--nospam--at)

Smith Engineering
27 South Park
San Francisco, CA 94107