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RE: History of conventional wood framing

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Dennis Wish wrote:

. > Designing to minimum standards is not enough to protect the financial lose
. > that many homeowners incurred.  I personally feel that we have to extend 
. > our professional responsibility to consider the effects of damage and 
. > offer our clients a performance based contract - leaving the final 
. > decision to those who must pay for it in the end.

The "performance based contract" is the *big* problem as I see it.  First of 
all, I don't know what it means, and secondly, it could mean anything, e.g. 
building could fall down from a sneeze.  *That* is a performance 
specification, but I am sure that all of us recognize that it is ridiculous.  
If our client is a developer and he/she just wants the building to conform to 
the minimum code requirements, how is that information passed on to the buyer 
of the property *and* subsequent buyers?  Do we require a covenant to the 
title which says, "This building was designed to comply with only the minimum 
requirements of the xxx building code adopted by <jurisdiction>.  It is the 
opinion of the structural engineer that these minimum requirements are not 
adequate for continued serviceability when subjected to loads and forces that 
can occur.  Severe damage may occur when subjected to earthquakes or winds 
in excess of ## mph which could be unrepairable."  It really wouldn't do any 
good, because the buyer(s) will focus on, "... designed to conform to ... 
code requirements ... " and nothing else.  To non-structural engineers, 
conformance to code requirements implies safety, which we know it doesn't.  I 
have seen builders and developers defend their *inadequate* construction by 
declaring that it "... was built as required by the code or jurisdiction and 
inspected by them ... ," implying that they are completely innocent of any 
inadequacies and it was "someone else" that permitted the code to be so lax, 
yet it is often the same builder and developer that fought tooth and nail to 
get those code provisions adopted.

. > To protect those who purchase homes direct from a developer, we need to
. > educate the public and inform them of the standard under which the home 
. > was designed and constructed - i.e., minimum or greater than minimum
. > construction/design standards. Then we need to educate the buyers so that
. > they understand both what this means AND what they may need to invest to
. > improve the structures performance. This provides the purchaser the 
. > freedom of choice by providing them the knowledge that they normally take 
. > for granted.

This is a most difficult thing --- educating the public.  Most believe or 
hope that government is there to protect them.  They are told by builders 
that the building conforms to what government requires and that they wouldn't 
be permitted to build something sub-standard.  The cosmetics on the building 
look great, so why shouldn't the buyer believe that what they are told is 
true?  Maybe we have to classify the design in terms that ordinary people 
will understand, e.g.:

Fairly good
Somewhat good
Mostly good
Better than good
Better than most
Probably very good
Very good, I think
Better than Very good, I think

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona