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RE: Contractor Reputation

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It all sound too familiar and also both the owner and the building
department are not on your side.  That's why I try to work for the owner
directly and not the architect, contractor or designer (by the way,
what's the designer, unlicensed architect or interior designer).  It
takes a lot of time to develop a personal relationship with the owner so
that he/she will trust me more than the contractor and I often help them
to argue with the contractor over change order issues.

Contractor, whether in good or bad reputation, always try to blame the
enginner or architect for any reason so as to create change orders.
Whether the owner will trust you or the contractor depends entirely on
your relationship with the owner.  Structural drawings are always like a
black box to most owners. In your case, the fee may not justify going to
court unless you are fighting for your reputation.  Your change of
winning is high.

Good luck 

Tom Chiu, SE
Thomas Engineering
Walnut, CA