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RE: engineers and single family houses

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Chris wrote:

I think a strong public awareness of horror stories
from sloppy structural and mechanical design is very important 
beginning a demand for proper codes and their enforcement. 
Minnesota is
in the throes of upgrading its energy code to provide for proper 
quality and the newspaper articles are helping fuel public 
awareness and

I don't think that starting a scare tatic to the public is the 
way to improve home construction. This just creates wars that 
waste money while each industry throws "crap" at one another.
I think that we already have some of the power by virtue of the 
building code, but that we, as a profession, need to recognize 
residential single family homes as structures that require 
stronger compiance measures.

The first step is to get rid of prescriptive methods which 
provide technical instruction to those that won't read them 
(such as the UBC section 2326). If you can not get rid of the 
code, then take a lesson from cities like Los Angeles that 
provide the public with a Typical Type V sheet or a drawing that 
clearly shows development of load paths, length and depth of 
gravity load members based upon span tables. This sheet is 
essential a re-print of the platform framing cross section that 
is located in Architectural Graphic Standards. Anything else 
would exempt the structure from "Conventional Framing" and 
require the design of a qualified engineer (I say qualified 
untile we resolve the CE/SE title issue).

I may be missing something, but who is section 2326 of the 1994 
UBC written for? The building official who will not stand at the 
counter and explain the provisions to the homeowner or 
contractor? The homeowner who will never read the section and 
probably could not understand all of the references and 
terminology in the code? The contractor who is not tested nor 
educated in code compliance for conventional framing and who 
would not be able to tell if they have exceeded compliance or 
not? Or the inspector in the field that may not be trained, as 
many are not in rural or small cities?
I can understand how so much bad construction gets by. There is 
no one in the field to determine if complaince as been met or 
exceeded except in large cities where the inspectors can be 
properly trained. Yet we have extended the capabilities of 
conventional framing in the 1994 UBC to allow for proprietary 
repetitive members, irregular shaped structures and multi-story 
residences - to name a few.

We need to focus on this area and tighten up a very loose area 
of construction that we have historically ignored since the loss 
of one family was considered a negligible loss and there was not 
concern for damage mitigation.

Dennis Wish PE