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RE: engineers and single family houses

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Lew Midlam wrote:
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.


Lew, I agree with you to a point. Yes, the client should be able 
to call the shots as to what is considered minimum. However, we 
as professional engineers should set the standards for what is 
defined as a minimum. This definiton should come from 
consideration other than point of failure, it should consider 
emperical data that represent damage assessment.
The requirements for residential retrofit are not based upon 
loss of life, but upon extent of damage. It should be the 
professional community in joint effort with those responsible 
for paying for the majority of repairs of such damaged 
properties that dictate what is considered acceptable minimums.
Your comments correctly assume that the client has the right to 
demand minimum compliance, I am only saying that the level of 
minimum compliance should be raised to reflect damage mitigation 
that affects the insurance industry as well as the owners 
pocket-book. I believe that the same cost concise owner will be 
the first to complain when damage occurs and the reality of 
financial loss hits him.
More importantly, is that the majority of homes are not built 
for a specific homeowner, but for a developer or contractor who 
will never live in the home and will never be responsible for 
his work. Therefore, to make work we must do more than educate 
the public as to why they will spend thousands in the future for 
saving a few dollars today. This does not seem reasonable when 
the average home-buyer is not buying a custom home and believes 
(as many advertisments tell them) that the homes are of the best 
quality. Personally, I get this sick feeling in my stomach when 
I look in the realestate section and see the claims for high 
quality living at a low price. The quality is certainly not in 
the construction.

Dennis Wish PE