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Re: engineers and single family houses

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I guess, to summarize, if I ran across a good (i.e. profitable) potential
located in TX, I would be better off to turn it down than to ask you to
with me on it. Bummer.

Bill Allen

-----Original Message-----
From: Caldwell, Stan <scaldwell(--nospam--at)>
To: 'seaoc(--nospam--at)' <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 1997 5:29 AM
Subject: RE: engineers and single family houses

>>>>     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
>>>>     drawings after a thorough review and backcheck.  This is considered
>>>>     illegal plan stamping.
>>>>     Another architect prepares residential plans without imput from a
>>>>     and a contractor builds the structure based on UBC Conventional
>>>>     provisions, or some other standard.  This is not illegal, and in
>>>>     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
>>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)