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Engineer's duty to publi

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Tom Harris,

Your's is a professional dilemma!

First, I would not call the owners.  Oral comments tend to get misconstrued 
and people hear/remember only what they want to hear/remember.

Second, since it has been 2-1/2 years since you looked at the house, you do 
not know what the current condition is, so a recommendation to immediately 
move out might not be appropriate.

I think that appropriate action on your part would be to *write* the owners a 
letter stating that, based on what you saw 2-1/2 years ago, the current 
climatic conditions, and what has happened to similarly situated houses, you
wish to reiterate your previous recommendations, which I assume (and hope) 
were in writing and not oral.  The letter should be sent "Certified Mail, 
Return Receipt Requested."  It would not hurt to include a copy of your 
previous report under the assumption that they do not have a copy at hand.

If you consider the house an imminent danger to the occupants, then it is 
your professional responsibility to report this to the building official, and 
I would so state this in the letter.  (The letter and copy of your previous 
report should also, in this case, be sent to the building official.)

You *cannot* go and drag the people out of the house, no matter what danger 
they might be in.  Only the building official, who has police powers, could 
resort to that.  If the owners have received advice from another professional 
that they are in no danger staying in the house, and they choose to accept 
that advice over your's, then I would say that you have done all that you 
could reasonably be expected to do.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona