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Structural Observation -- City of Los Angeles -Reply

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Drew,

Thank you for your compliment on the structural observation handout. Your copy
has been updated. The latest version is the 5th Edition dated 9/21/96 and can
be found in the SEAOSC seminar notes for "The Structural Observer and the
Inspector" held March 1,1997.

I would be happy to post the document but I just found out it was part of some
files I lost when I recently switched from Windows 3.1 to NT. Although I used
my file manager to backup copies of everything upon our system server, I have
noticed some missing files. Interestingly, both were on the same directory and
alphabetically sequenced. Until I can get them retyped, please contact Don
Gilbert for a copy of the seminar notes.

I learned an important lesson after my last offer on Division 93. From now on,
all documents will be posted on the SEAOC server for interested parties to
download. We sent over 150 copies around the world (as many of you had to see !
) My apologies for the disruption. When the structural observation document is
ready, I will announce its posting, so that list server "lurkers" can help
themselves.

As for the question about the design-build issue, although we recognize the
potential conflict of interest, we decided to leave the decision to the owner
on whether or not to allow structural observation by the design-build team. We
did this for three reasons. 

First, as a government agency, we would have to make findings supported by
fact, that a widespread problem would exist if design-build teams performed
their own structural observation and that a special remedy above State
Engineering registration laws was required to correct it.  With structural
observation not yet in place, we did not have the ability to obtain these
findings. 

Secondly, without findings, we would be creating a blanket accusation that
enough engineers in a potential conflict of interest would behave unethically.
We do not believe this to be the case. Thirdly, our inspection program
routinely reports abuses of structural observation and helps us correct these
problems. 

You left out another troubling concern: the owner/designer/builder. Some of our
residential homebuilders do everything in house ! Yet I have seen extraordinary
quality control in some of these firms and have no reasonable doubt that their
structural observation is legitimate and conscientious.

Regards, 

Tim McCormick, P.E.
City of Los Angeles