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Re: BORPELS and residential room additions

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Charles Greenlaw wrote:
> This reply had to wait until I completed a residential addition calc and
> sketch job over last weekend, which didn't go any easier as a result of my
> having read the two source messages and all 32 responses to date.
> Unfortunately, the attack on the civil engineer that Mr Harris describes
> fits a pattern, and is not unexpected to one who has been observant. I am a
> structural engineer in Sacramento, a past president of the Central Section
> of SEAOC, have had four years on the SEAOC Board of Directors, and I have
> been following the affairs of the California Board of Registration since
> 1983, as a representative of my local SEAOC section for some issues and as a
> private party otherwise. Nearly every month I appear and report on BORPELS
> matters to Central Section's Board of Directors at their request. Not very
> much of what I report appears in their minutes nor, of course, in the
> minutes of BORPELS' own meetings. There is a wealth of ominous BORPELS
> doings to reveal just on this disciplinary action topic, too much for a
> single e-mail shot. Another deterrent to saying much is the one noted by Mr
> Brudigam: these stories make one sick. For now, I will only reply to two
> issues raised earlier, and touch on a third.
> As to minimum engineering services for a residential room addition, the
> answer is easy if it's woodframe construction. In 1985 the state legislature
> enacted SB 790, which exempts woodframe residential construction from
> needing any engineering at all, except as specified. The exception appears
> in Sec 6737.1(b) of Cal Business and Professions Code (the PE Act) as
> follows: "If any PORTION of any structure exempted by this section deviates
> from substantial compliance with conventional framing requirements for wood
> frame construction found in ...(the building code)...the building official
> having jurisdiction shall require the preparation of
> plans,drawings,specifications,or calculations FOR THAT PORTION by,or under
> the direct supervision of,a licensed architect or registered engineer."
> (emphasis added)
> Those conventional framing requirements in code are the prescriptive ones
> that are pre-approved so that no engineering design is needed. Building
> elements not covered by code in that manner are the ones needing
> engineering. As such, the minimum scope of engineering services is not
> fixed, but would vary wildly according to the nature of the construction. It
> could be as little as a single beam or shear panel. Foundations weren't
> mentioned by the legislature in their enactment, but the building code
> itself gives prescriptive widths and depths to use for stud bearing walls
> "where a design is not provided." See Sec 2907(b) of the 1985 edition in
> effect in 1987.
> It appears that the legislature rather clearly intended that residential
> room additions not be larded up with unnecessary engineering and materials
> testing. It is doubtful that they have given BORPELS authority to require
> otherwise.
> Many replies have debated the proper role of BORPELS' technical consultant:
> impartial advisor or partisan adversarial advocate or shameless prostitute?
> No consensus emerged. Perhaps quoting from BORPELS' own Technical Expert
> Training Manual would be of use. This 37-page pamphlet was created in
> October 1995 and was issued to some 400 newly recruited "experts" who
> answered ads placed in various newsletters. The only qualifications were to
> be a PE or LS and not have ever been the subject of any complaints filed
> with BORPELS. Each expert was to attend a training session, where the
> speakers included a prosecuting deputy attorney general, an administrative
> law judge, and an instructor technical expert who is a Sacramento-based
> structural engineer. The president of Central Section of SEAOC made written
> request to BORPELS to have two members of our Professional Practice
> committee attend, to buy a copy of the video tape that was to be made, and
> to buy two copies of the training manual. Our stated purpose was to learn
> the ropes so as to be able to advise our membership how to practice without
> getting into trouble. We called their attention to the fact that the
> definition of negligence given in SEAOC's Recommended Guidelines for the
> Practice of Structural Engineering in California markedly differed from what
> we believed BORPELS was using. Our request to attend was denied, our reasons
> were scoffed at, but two copies of the manual were sent. I have one; our
> current president has the other.
> The BORPELS Technical Expert Training Manual at page 17 tells the user:
> "Your responsibility is to honestly and fairly evaluate the work of another
> professional; you are NOT being hired with any preconceived intentions. The
> basis of the review is the 'Standard of Practice' of similar professionals
> practicing in the state. If your firm has established stricter standards
> than are generally accepted by the profession you should NOT base your
> opinions on those stricter standards. Remember that you are making judgments
> on a colleague's livelihood and perform your review accordingly....REMEMBER
> that there is often more than one method of rational design; the use of
> rational alternate design methods are acceptable. Do not impose your
> personal preference of design methods, detailing, or presentation on the
> subject engineer." (emphasis in the original)
> It seems possible that the BORPELS consultant in the case at hand is not
> keeping to that doctrine.
 Thanks for some very constructive info on the subject, I hope this gets
to that man that needs it the most.

Norman Brudigam C.E.

Bay Engineers Inc.	Specializing in the Evaluation
(510) 284-3300x20	and Repair of Existing Structures
FAX   284-3365
Primary Email: norm(--nospam--at)
Secondary Email:  nbrudigam(--nospam--at)