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Re: plan dimension standards

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I agree with the sentiments expressed by Steve Privett.  I would also 
note that several professional organizations have published 
recommended standards of practice for structural engineering.  I 
believe that without exception they require that dimensions of all 
structural elements (including foundations) be included in the 
structural set.  For example, the standard of practice published by 
the Structural Engineers Association of Colorado says of the scope 
of services for Contract Documents Phase:
"Prepare final contract drawings for the Primary Structural System 
which are sufficiently complete and understandable to be accurately 
priced or submitted for competitive bid, and for the project to be 
constructed.  The documents should show:  1.) Foundation and framing 
plans, elevations, and sections, all sufficiently dimensioned, 
detailed, and identified to define the Primary Structural System..."

Providing less than this level of detail is by definition 
sub-standard work.  I take a dim view of arguments such as "it's just 
a house."  My experience has shown that the Owner, Architect, 
Engineer, Contractor, Building Department, and all other parties are 
best served by complete (and competent) structural services 
regardless of project size.  Dimension control is one of the most 
basic responsibilities of the SER.  As evidenced by published 
standards of care, our profession has reached consensus on this 
issue.

> I believe the structural plans should include the dimesions required to
> build the structural components of the structure.
> 
> One big point seems to be missed here... Both the architect and the
> engineer are to be a part of a TEAM... I believe both set of plans
> should have the dimensions as this shows what we've designed to and what
> the architect wants.  If there was a change made by the architect, it is
> his job to inform the consultants... just as if we need a larger shear
> wall to make the bracing along one line work, we tell the architect. 
> Would an engineer dream of increasing the length of a shear wall without
> telling the architect?  I hope not... and I hope the architect wouldn't
> make changes in the dimensions without notifying the engineer.  I know
> it happens.... but when the team fails to communicate, all parties are
> responsible.  In addition, I include a note that the contractor shall
> verify all dimensions on the structural plans with the architectural
> plans and any descrepancies brought to the attention of the architect
> and engineer prior to proceeding.  While this isn't an out, if it is
> discussed with the contractor at a "pre-construction" meeting, he
> becomes part of the team too.  
> 
> I make it a practice to ask my clients everytime I get an updated set of
> drawings, to verify that no dimensions have changed.  In addition, once
> my lines of bearing and lateral bracing are established, I send a print
> to the architect stating that these are the critical structural areas of
> the building and that I MUST know of any changes in these areas.  If you
> let them know that you have an interest in getting it right the first
> time and not having to deal with problems in the field, they usually are
> quite co-operative.  This type of service gets into to the thread of
> fee.   If you don't charge bottom line fees, you can provide the service
> and maintain the communication necessary to get the job done right.  In
> addition, I'm sure we all have had sets of architectural plans where the
> dimensions don't add up or parts of the drawing are not to scale.  While
> technically, the listed dimension is to take precident over a scaled
> dimension, if there is a discrepancy, it turns on a light that maybe
> there is a mistake somewhere.   So it's back to communication again to
> figure out what is right.
> 
> I vote for taking the responsiblity of dimensioning the structural
> plans, and charging the fee to support the time and effort it takes.

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Michael Valley                                   E-mail: mtv(--nospam--at)skilling.com
Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire Inc.                  Tel:(206)292-1200
1301 Fifth Ave, #3200,  Seattle  WA 98101-2699          Fax:        -1201