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Re: 3/8 inch shear panels

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Involve all parties from the beginning. The original engineer of record needs
to know that a peer review is being performed. Just tell the truth as you see
it in the most diplomatic way possible. If the engineer of record's design is
consistent with the 1994 UBC, say it. Explain that your design philosophy
changed with the Northridge earthquake and that your design is consistent with
the City of Los Angeles values, not the UBC even though the UBC is acceptable
in Santa Monica. 

Explain that you are not comfortable with 3/8: plywood and nailing at 2" on
center. Although the numbers are acceptable per the 1994 UBC, your experience
from structural observation has shown that "overnailing" and damage to the
plywood and studs occurs when 2" oc with 3/8" plywood is used.

Stress that the other engineer is not "wrong" (unless his design violates the
1994 UBC), but that your style is based upon experience and quality control.
This can allow the other engineer to make some changes without losing face and
the owner to get a more quality structure.

One thing I remember from the esteemed Jake Feldman PE at Cal Poly SLO is that
the lateral calculations of a wood framed building performed by two different
but equally qualified engineers can diffre by almost 20% with neither party
being "wrong".

Just be honest, that always seems to protect me.

Greg Riley PE