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RE: engineers and single family houses

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>>>     This is my understanding of Texas law; correct me if I am wrong:
>>     A PE engineers a residential structure for an architect.  The PE
>>>         provides calculations and completely details the structure with
>>>          sketches.  The architect prepares the drawings and the PE stamps
>>>     drawings after a thorough review and backcheck.  This is considered 
>>>     illegal plan stamping.
>>>     Another architect prepares residential plans without imput from a PE 
>>>     and a contractor builds the structure based on UBC Conventional 
>>>     provisions, or some other standard.  This is not illegal, and in fact,
>>>     encouraged.
>>>     How are the Texas laws better than those in California where the 
>>>     majority of this type of structure is engineered by a PE?
>>>     Ken Agee, S.E.
>>Your statements above are correct.  The first paragraph describes an
>>illegal activity, and the second does not.  I don't recall stating that
>>the Texas laws are better, but they certainly are different.  I think
>>the purpose of the Texas laws are to hold the engineer fully accountable
>>for his/her own work, but not for the work of others.
>>Hope this helps ... Stan Caldwell in Dallas
>For my information, in which section of the Texas Engineering Practice Act
>does it say that the first paragragh is an ilegal activity.
>It seems that the Engineer has prepared the calculations and design sketchs
>with details (let's say himself), and the Engineer has made all the design
>decisions and the only thing remaining is drafting. Unless drafting is now
>considered "Practice of Engineering" :-)
>Plan stamping to me means, please correct me if I'm wrong, that the
>Engineer places is stamp on a drawing that he did not personally design or
>the design was not performed under his direct supervision.
>Simon Solorio
Dear Simon:

Why the great interest in Texas?  I assume from your email address that
you are somewhere in Vermont.  Shouldn't you be out chopping wood for
this Winter ?;^>

Texas has a *very* narrow view of "plan stamping".  First, I refer you
to Board Rule 131.166 (c):

"Engineers shall only seal work done by them or performed under their
direct supervision, except as provided in subsection (m) of this section
concerning standards. Upon sealing, engineers take full professional
responsibility for that work."

Subsection (m) is not relevant to this discussion.  The key issue is
"direct supervision".  This is defined in Board Rule 131.18:

"The responsibility for the critical watching and directing of
engineering activities with the authority to review, enforce, and
control compliance with all engineering design criteria, specifications,
and procedures as the work progresses."

The Board has provided additional insight into this definition through
their enforcement program and through their newsletters.  In publishing
the recent four-year suspension of a Texas structural engineer's
license, the Board wrote:

"When engineers place their seal on plans, they are in effect relaying
to the public and to their client that they have either performed the
work personally or supervised the product of their employee's labor".

Issue No. 24 (9/96) of the Texas PE Newsletter includes an informative
column written by the Executive Director of the PE Board:  

"Responsible Supervision - 

Although Board rule 131.18 defines responsible supervision, questions
are often posed to the board concerning specifications. Before
proceeding with a case, the enforcement staff and I look for a series of
elements to establish the level of responsible supervision.

1. Active Participation - The process of plan preparation, construction
monitoring, system analysis or other engineering must include some level
of active participation by the responsible engineer. After-the-fact
reviews that do not allow participation in the early decision-making
process rarely provide adequate supervision. 

2. Professional Control - The responsible engineer must be able to exert
control over every element of engineering plans, products or activities.
 The responsible engineer's control must be present throughout the
engineering process as well as after it has been completed.

3. A Supervisor/Subordinate Relationship - Although supervision may come
in a variety of forms, all supervisors have one thing in common:  they
have subordinates. Responsible supervision must involve such a
relationship that is clearly defined.

4. Personal Presence - Although electronic correspondence can enable a
much more extensive level of engineering practice, responsible
supervision still must include direct contact between engineers and
subordinates. Phones and faxes should only serve as a supplement to the
relationship, not as a surrogate.

The board's concern with responsible supervision is most often
highlighted in cases of plan stamping. Plan stamping occurs when an
engineer certifies that the work was performed under his/her responsible
supervision, when in fact it was not. Recent board cases of plan
stamping have underscored the serious nature and magnitude of the

Sealing engineering documents is not an end within itself. Sealing
instead implies that a process of responsible supervision has taken
place or that an engineer personally performed the work."

To summarize, a Texas PE places his license at great risk if he seals
any work that he did not prepare *personally*, or that was prepared by
his *employees* under direct supervision.  In the example that started
this debate, the plans were drawn by an outside architect, who was not
an employee of the engineer.  Still not convinced?  Then to hell with
it, I'd rather go out and chop some wood myself {;^>!

Stan Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas (home of great hockey and crappy football)