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RE: Architects Doing Engineering -Enough!

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Marlou raises some interesting issues.

The first has to do with the responsibility of the plan check engineer.
IMHO, the plan check engineers responsibility is not to check our numbers
for math mistakes, but is to check the design for compliance to the code.
This is especially true in times when computer programs spit out results
without a tabulated math output to verify the arithmetic. Plan check
engineers do not have the time to provide this type of tedious check,
however, many have highly developed instincts for how materials work
together and can identify an error that may be something simple like a math

The issue about home quality is another one that I am passionate about. I
disagree that the quality of any building should be comprimised simply
because we have have a population of homeless that might be able to afford
one of these structures if the cost of the structural engineering solutions
were not so high. This is a rather convoluted concept originating with the
idea of Conventional Framing. Don't misunderstand, I am not critizing
Marlou - just the idea that the quality of construction needs to be
comprimised to allow more families to afford homes.
First, this is not an issue of homelessness since the homeless generally do
not purchase homes. Multi-residential structures such as apartments are not
part of the Conventional framing code.
Second, consider this - many families who are low income or lower middle
income live from paycheck to paycheck. Many are one paycheck away from
foreclosure. The misconception is that the home is constructed under "low
income" quality provisions or reduced code compliance which is not true. The
home is generally constructed better than Conventional framing due to
government subsidized programs and HUD standards. Only the family income is
"low" and they are allowed to own based upon subsidized programs such as
Self-help or similar programs.
Still, as I said, many families are one paycheck away from bankruptsy or
foreclosure. These are usually the families not considered "low income" but
are "lower middle income". This class has enough money to go deeply into
debt and who do not qualify for subsidized programs.
My point is that they barely hang on to their homes as it is. Conventional
Framing creates a structure that will not perform as well as an engineered
product using the design methods which are non-prescriptive. Therefore, they
may not be a life-threat, but will most likely suffer greater damage at the
expense of the homeowner.
Therefore, we should not be thinking that quality is a function of income.
The developer of these homes (as with the example that Bill Allen presented)
is the one who profits the most and at the expense of the buyer who is
unaware of the performance of their purchase.

If we are following prescriptive measures, they should not be less than
those calculated for engineered products, they should simply contain all of
the information needed to insure the same quality of construction.

Dennis Wish PE

-----Original Message-----
From: MRodrig273 [mailto:MRodrig273(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 1998 11:08 PM
To: seaoc(--nospam--at); Bill Allen,S.E.
Subject: Re: Architects Doing Engineering -Enough!

I agree with you.  I am a student and I currently work for a place that
me to do some engineering from time to time.  I currently reviewed a set of
calculations from an architect and I found a few static mistakes in his
equations.  I know I am just a student and I am just learning my self but I
think the building departmenst should be a little bit more carefull in
checking the work that goes through their office.

The argument that I receive from other architects is that there are a lot of
people suffering every day from being homeless so their job to design homes
that are afordable is more important to them than making it seismicly

A concerned student
Arce 98,
Cal Poly, SLO