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RE: Accreditation of Inspection Agencies

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I'm not going to get in the middle of this one, but I have some comments to
add regarding Mr. Parker's claim that Sandy's concerns are self serving.
I've known Sandy going on about 13 year - since I first started doing
Unreinforced Masonry work. His devotion to SEAOSC has been commendable for
those years and I believe, completely, that his arguments are intended to
improve flaws that many of us have had to contend with over the years.
Sandy has started the Inspections Committee for SEAOSC and has done much for
the community in creating standards that have helped improve construction
quality. This does not mean that I have to be in agreement with each and
every issue that the committee brings up, but I do feel that his work is as
credible as any other committee of volunteers within SEA. Certainly, his
other committee members take credit for the work done by the Inspection
committees, and I doubt very seriously if the other members of the committee
are employees of Sandy.
I have never questioned a private testing agency, although I was served as a
cross-complainant by one such company who was sued for good reason - they
screwed up. The design for retrofit was done based upon the initial testing
that was reported by this, until then, reputable private agency. I was
fortunate to be dropped from the suit - either by realization that I was not
at fault, or by the reality that I had no insurance. In either case the
testing agency and their lawyers wanted to share the blame even though they
were the testing agency hired by the owner to do the work.
This is only one example and you can be sure that I qualify a testing lab
today and not assume that they are all capable.
I have also been placed in a position where the contractor recommended to
the owner to hire a specific inspector who came with all of the
qualifications. In this case, A client of mine owned a restaurant that we
were in the process of retrofitting (Beverly Hills). The new tenant hired a
contractor to do the tenant improvement. In the course of his improvement (I
had replaced their engineer of record) he was to pour some column pads
(gravity load pads only). I was later notified by the retrofit contractor
that the tenant improvement contractor was mixing the concrete by hand on
the floor and that the mix looked bad. Supposedly this contractor had an
inspector on the site for some welds and claimed that the inspector watched
the concrete be placed. I called his bluff and notified the owner that he
could either test the concrete or replace it as it did not appear mixed
correctly me. I made this call on the fact that the aggregate was very
apparent on the surface of the footings.
The owner choose to call out a known agency who I recommended. They took two
cores and were unable to do a compaction test since neither were completely
dry. These cores were taken almost 10 days after placement and still failed
to hold together.
I reported the inspector to the city and had the contractor remove and
replace the footings with a mix that was delivered to the site.

My point is that I believe that any agency or inspector used to working for
a specific client who happens to be a contractor is more likely than not to
bend the rules to a degree. The reasons are obvious to me: he either wants
to be sure he gets paid by the owner or contractor, and unknowingly he may
be judging the contractor based upon prior records rather than on each and
every project. Either excuse is wrong - he needs to be as objective as
possible and report exactly what occurs at each project.

Finally, you claim that Sandy is advertising his practice in the statements
he has made. I believe that this is no more unethical than any engineer who
posts a message on this list. Certainly this list is not limited to
structural engineers, but is open to any person who works within this
industry. Sandy is probably the most outspoken as any perceives either
myself or any other member of this list with strong opinions. He is not to
be faulted for that.

It is my understanding that to avoid concerns of unethical practices, Sandy
has chosen to pay for advertising space in the SEAOSC Newsletter in order to
have his voice heard by those other than this list. I feel that this should
not be required and that Sandy has every right to voice his concern to the
community he serves in the form of From Experience as any other person has
done - such as the publication of Ficcadenti's work in the SEAOC
Proceedings. This does not provide credence to whether the publication is
supported properly by facts, but is a concern stated for the benefit of the
profession - not, as I firmly believe, for personal gain.

With that said, I still believe you have the right to question Sandy's
"facts" and comments. I think your questions are valid, but I was not keen
on your tone. Let's keep this professional, please.

Dennis Wish PE

Dennis S. Wish PE
La Quinta, California

ICQ# 6110557

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It
will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."
Robert Hutchins

-----Original Message-----
From: ParkerSCal [mailto:ParkerSCal(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, April 10, 1998 9:04 AM
To: seaoc(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Accreditation of Inspection Agencies

On 3/25 yet another advertisement for Sandy appeared.  As usual he is
his chest about A2LA accreditation.   Does any jurisdiction recognize it?
don't you get accredited by one that is relevant here in California?
You mentioned the requirement for a staff engineer from ASTM E329.  Why is
this person conspicuously absent from your website?  (Not even a name
I am the Registered Civil Engineer responsible for the organization I work
for.  (I won't mention its name since this forum is not intended to be used
for self-promotion.)
Lies, half-truths, etc. do a disservice to the structural engineering
I am growing weary of the implication that testing laboratories are not
qualified to perform inspection.   Please confine these advertising claims
your website.  Stop bombarding this board with claims that might be more
appropriate on a late-night infomercial.

James E. Parker, P. E.