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I find it hard to believe, based on your extensive knowledge and level of
expectation that you could ever have produced a set of calculations that
would be anything but perfectly organized. I am not being facetious. It is
apparent that you have exceedingly high standards and generally this beings
from the very basics.

I am pleased to say that I learned early in the game that the greater care
you take in the presentation of your work the less likely you are to have
plan check corrections.

This is what surprises me most from some of the submittals I receive. They
are engineers known to me who have very strong reputations but whose work I
find very difficult to interpret. As I stated, it can take a few hours which
I believe can be avoided in order to work through a calculation package and
set of drawings before the intention of the EOR or designer becomes

If anything, we should be offering classes or continuing education credit in
presentation of work.

Another problem I have is when an engineer deviates from the conventional
methodology to use another approach which, although acceptable, is not well
known to the plan checker. I had this situation when I reviewed plans from
an engineer outside my area who I knew well. It was a retrofit of a URM
building. Rather than follow the typical UCBC methodology, he chose to
design by ultimate strength method. This is perfectly fine, but I had been
designing retrofits of over 300 buildings in my time and never used this
approach. I must conceded that I ended spending hours reviewing his package
to learn what he had done and see that he achieved the same end as I would
with a working stress method.

After working as both an independent engineer and a contract plan checker I
quickly gained respect for the hardship a plan checker faces every time he
opens a new set of drawings and calc's to review. In many ways it is very
much like a puzzle that takes time for all the pieces to fall into place.

Going back to the issue of presentation, how do other plan checkers deal
with calculations which are not supported by sufficient commentary or hand
justifications? If it is not an commercial software, are you justified to
ask for sample calculations to show the accuracy of the program? Or, do you
assume that the engineer is responsible for getting the math right and we as
plan reviewer only interested in assuring the detailing is correct?



-----Original Message-----
From: Roger Turk [mailto:73527.1356(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, March 02, 2000 10:56 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: How about a private listservice for

It is not only calcs performed by someone else, but even calcs that you,
yourself, performed that could become very mysterious.

I first noted that when I was still in school and looked over problems and
notes from the *previous* semester and wondered what I did.  I have tried to
annotate my calcs sufficiently so that they would be decipherable, but I
still find myself wondering what I did when I look over my calcs from 2, 5,
10, or 20 or more years ago.  The only explanation that I would have is, "I
had a perfectly logical reason for it at that time."  Usually I have to get
into the same train of thought I was in when I did the calcs and then the
reason would quickly come to mind, and what I did would then be "perfectly

However, I would not be in favor of a separate listservice for plan check
engineers.  Much of what would be discussed on a separate list would be
beneficial to the particpants on this list, and if we can make our
clearer, then they would get thru the plan check process faster, and the
owner and our client would be happier, which should make us happier.

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

Thor Tandy wrote:


I agree with you.  While it is often difficult to remember that somewhere,
someone else has to read the calcs, it is important that we remind ourselves
to coordinate our drawings with the arithmetic we are carrying out.  I often
used to complain that the calcs should be able to be read by a third party
with no previous knowledge of the project.  That being said, more than one
text book in this world is grossly guilty of just that!

When I practised in New Zealand I did many structural checks and had the
comment.  Even doing in-house checking I would find that significant design
judgments made on one or two lines of simple unintelligible calculation.
telling a senior supervisor to clean up his act...?? :-).  It was often
frustrating if I had to assure the design was competent.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: SEConsultant
  To: seaint(--nospam--at)
  Sent: Tuesday, February 29, 2000 11:11 PM
  Subject: RE: How about a private listservice for Plan Check Engineers?

  Thanks for the response Ben. I've been doing plan review on a contracted
  bases for almost seven years now. I have to admit that with the
  of the 97 code it I feel that I have to go back to school. I spent a great
  deal of time developing the spreadsheet software that I donated to SEAOC -
  still, the analysis that I receive from other engineers looks foreign most
  of the time.
  My biggest complaint is that the engineer does not <<