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Re: Engineering ethics

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I'm much interested in this topic.  If I read your message right, it appears
you have noticed the AOR of construction defects and that the AOR has not
taken action.  I believe that you are required to make sure that the building
department/inspections has been noticed of this.  I have been in a similar
situation and went so far as to hand deliver a copy of my report to the
building department.

I would like to expand on this question by asking for opinions on the
following situation I presently find myself:

I have personal knowledge of a 5 story steel framed building that was damaged
by an earthquake.  The lateral system is composed of full height reinforced
(Very light with no confinement of boundary elements) brick masonry
shearwalls.  A secondary system does exist via the steel frame, which has
spandrel trusses on the exterior walls.  The damage was limited to compression
failure of the boundaries of five of the seven walls.  All five damaged walls
are in the NS direction and the two undamaged walls are in the EW direction.
I estimated that the building has lost greater than 50% of it's lateral
capacity in the NS direction.  This is a 50% reduction to a system that was
designed in 1960,  thus it likely results in a building which is capable of
resisting less than 25% of today's min. requirements.

The owners of the building (WHO ARE REGISTRADED ENGINEERS!!!!) have failed to
have the building repaired.  Since the time of the earthquake, 4.5 years ago,
they have spent 100's of thousands of dollars on cosmetic improvements,
including construction of a new Porte at the front of the building.

This is what has occurred:

The building was incorrectly green tagged.  I assume the inspector did not
realize that the brick walls were a part of the lateral system.  I have
written to the building department that this was an incorrect assessment.
They have not acted.

An insurance company has paid the owners a large amount of money (millions) to
repair the damage.  This appears to be the source of the money that is paying
for the architectural improvements.

I have written to the owners that the building requires structural repair and
should not be occupied.  To this day, with the green tag proudly displayed on
the front door, the owners have maintained full occupancy.  The building is
heavily used by the public.

I have written to the owners, owner's attorney, the insurance company, the
insurance company's attorney and the building department, in addition to the
notices indicated above, expressing my concerns.  I have had a face to face
conversation with an SE who is working for the owners and he does not disagree
with my opinion.

Recently, the owners repaired one of the five damaged walls.  I believe this
was in response to a aftershock that slightly woke him up.  I have discovered
though that the limited repairs were not permitted and were not inspected by
the owners engineer.  All the other damaged walls have been cosmetically
covered up.

I would appreciate any opinions on what if anything else I should be doing.
The situation is a little murky as there is pending litigation between the
owner and their insurance company.

David Murphy, SE
Murphy Burr Curry
San Francisco
respond privatelyto dgmurphy(--nospam--at)