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Re: engineers and single family houses

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Dennis S. Wish PE wrote:
> <... snip ...>

> Finally, we may be legally bound to protect life safety, but I
> believe we are ethically bound to mitigating damage and
> protecting the nest egg of the public.

I agree, but who's to pay for the extra cost of design and construction to
mitigate this potential damage?  Joe Blow home owner wants a design that only
meets the 'minimum' code requirements because he thinks that's the 'minimum'
cost.  If your contract is to provide a design that meets minimum code
requirements, are you ethically bound to violate that contract and call, for
example, for 3/4" plywood shearwall when 1/2" will suffice?  If Joe Blow orders
'minimum' then he should get 'minimum'.  As consulting engineers our job is to
'consult', to advise, to educate our clients and to let them decide what is best
for them.  We shouldn't be making that decision for them.

I believe change will only come when the insurance companies reduce premiums for
'engineered' construction.  I see no other way to get Joe Public to insist on
'engineering' than to put money in *his* pocket.  Attempts by the design
professional community and the code authors fail without a strong financial


Lew Midlam, P.E.