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Re: Strange stuff that I don't understand.

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Good point. It kind of forces me to do some preliminary calculations to point 
out to the building official exactly what the concern is. The building is now 
being constructed. It is not occupied by any one other than the workers. 
Thanks for the advise.

An anonymous tip to the local building official will be made along with some 
justification (calcs) to substantiate my thoughts. I am not really concerned 
about losing an Architect client. If I do, so be it.

My reluctance to turn anything into the building official, is that in some 
locations I am not so sure that they will even act. I had situation in the 
foothills of the western slope of the high sierra's where in seismic zone 3 I 
designed a residence, performed all of the calculations and turned out a plan 
for the owner to submit to the building official for permit. The results were 

The owner decided to first see how much the structure would cost. So he 
obtained several contractors to give him a bid. The owner called me and 
informed me that the builders all said that the structure was way 

The contractors apparently (I did not talk to them) complained that for the 
one and two story footings that they didn't have to be 18" below grade. I 
considered the perma-frost and the winter temperatures and indicated 18" 
below grade. I also called for the one story/two story footings to be 12"/18" 
below natural ground, respectively. They also complained that the footings 
did not have to be stepped down the hillside. They wanted to simply dig 6" 
below the grade and install the footings on a slope to parallel the ground.

Further they (contractors) objected to placing the anchor bolts any closer 
than 6' o.c. They also objected to using any form of holdown hardware. They 
apparently recognize strandboard only as a means to close in the exterior 
walls. Forget any shear walls any where other than the exterior walls no 
matter what the configuration. And the specifications that some strandboard 
shear walls had to be nailed closer than 6" o.c was like a really unessential 
thing to do.

Now, I have run across many contractors that claim over engineering when in 
fact they are not engineers. I am sure we all have. I simply ignore them 
other than attempting to put into laymans terms why the structure is "over 
engineered" they way I have designed it.

All of the contractors that the owner talked to referred them to a particular 
licensed civil engineer to re-engineer my plans and reduce the amount of 
materials to take lateral loads. I told the owner that if he wanted to use 
another engineer, be my guest.

He did employ the other engineer and I followed up by releasing my drawings, 
sans my engineering, stamp and signature as the responsible EOR. In doing so 
I called the engineer and discussed the project.

The engineer told me that he has lived in the sierra mountains for seven 
years and he has never felt an earthquake. He stated that he doesn't design 
any buildings for seismic forces. Seismic forces governed in the long 
direction of the house. Knowing that wind governed in the short direction of 
the building, I asked him if he considered wind forces in his designs for 
houses in the sierra. He told me that the wind doesn't blow very often and 
never at more than 20 miles per hour. The result of the conversation is that 
he puts in nominal let-in-braces and the strandboard is not required at all.

This was an amazing conversation with an engineer that I wouldn't have design 
an outhouse. He ignored the provisions of the Code. I checked on the local 
building official and apparently, if the plans are stamped and signed by an 
engineer or architect the permit is issued. There is no requirement to even 
turn in any calcs.

Believe me I made sure that my name was removed from the plans and 

John Ott

P.S.   It's a dangerous place out there