Dennis S. Wish PE
I wanted to thank Mark K Gilligan for his comments about the pubic's
ignorance of the risk that they take when having work done. I have carried
this discussion much further in prior posts by suggesting that there should
be a level of performance disclosure made available to anyone who purchases a
home (not just adding a new roof).
This ties in with other threads on our list that I have been actively vocal
about. One house is not constructed with the same level of care as the next.
In my case, the non-engineering community is at fault for using their lobby
power to over-rule the engineering community by voting to establish
prescriptive construction methods that are sub-standard to engineered
However, the same is true of engineered solution that become more
conservative to try and offset the failure of the contractor to perform his
duty of compliance with the plan.
You stated: "I would argue that we have both a legal and moral obligation to
inform our clients as to the risks that they are accepting by making various
I agree with this in concept, however the majority of those structures (If I
may carry the discussion that far) that are sub-standard, do not originate
under the authority of an engineer or architect of record - they are
prescriptivly built structures. Therefore, our legal and moral obligation may
be ineffective as we have no authority to be involved. The perception of the
pofessional community to "bitch and moan" about sub-standard practices might
hurt the engineering community as being perceived as a creating a market.
Sorry, but I do believe that we are considered the bad guys in an issue where
sub-standard prescriptive measures are marketed by developers as meeting
compliance with the code and not "over-designed" as are engineered products.
It comes down to changing the public perception about quality of
construction. The public believes that every building that requires the
authority of the building official to issue permit is designed and built to a
minimum life safety level. They do not understand that it is not built to a
minimum performance level standard. Therefore, when the damage occurs, the
owner wants to seek compensation from those they believe are responsible. Our
system further makes it easy to file suit based upon a professional opinion
biased by the money paid to the expert by those he is hired to represent.
One solution is to submit for opinions from an impartial board or reviewers
who do not represent either side - but how would this be funded except by
I'm vasilating here. My intent is to show that we need to lobby for more
education of the public to alert them of the differences in quality that are
not disclosed to them when they purchase a home. We should next work to
educate and demand certification of those who build structural systems or
interpret structural drawings in the field.
Dennis Wish PE