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Re: higher loads or better details.

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Ernie Natividad Wrote:
...How about structural observation???????No matter how high your design loads
are or how complete your load path is or how good your details are........if
the contractor do not build it per your plans(assuming that your plans are
complete, concise and precise), the structure is still inferior......

[Bill Cain]  Ernie has clearly articulated one of the most important pieces of
a successful project: structural observation!!

The experiences I related earlier were found because of structural
observation.  In those cases, the Contractor had to replace the defective
work.  But I wonder about some of the projects I did early in my practice when
I didn't insist on the observation component.  

Since many contractors don't understand (or don't want to understand) what
makes a shear wall work properly, I've found it simpler to stay away from
problematical arrangements (i.e., 2" o.c. nail spacing, narrow walls and 3/8"
panels).  It costs too much time and money to have to argue with the
contractor about doing it right.  He has usually told the Owner how much of a
bum I am for costing the Owner so much by insisting on it being done right.
Then comes then the educational time that is tough to bill for explaining to
the Owner that the requirements are there for good reason (like to keep him
and his family alive) and guess what?:  He's already paid for doing it right
and it is on the Contractor's nickel to fix the defective work.  It's much
easier to give them a simple, straight forward design.   I can then praise the
Contractors for doing what almost anyone should be able to do successfully
making them allies rather than an enemies.  

I've had to explain this process to several architects.  They quickly get the
concept about the cost of contractor complaints to their practices, too.  If
they don't, they are usually too much trouble to work for anyway.  

On a side note, stretching the code to the lower limit (when it is already a
set of MINIMUM requirements) scares the hell out of me.  Don't we always raise
the requirements after every earthquake because of what we don't know?  Common
sense and  careful detailing go a long way in successful design! 

Regards, 
Bill Cain, SE
Albany, CA