Subject: Re: Strange stuff that I don't understand.
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999 15:12:03 EDT
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
P.S. It's a dangerous place out there