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RE: Responsibility to complete projects through construction.

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Thanks to all for the comments. As Tom noted, I am obliged to provide
observation services in compliance with Sect. 1702 but I believe that this
can be done by a deputy inspector acting on my behalf.
As Chuck noted - I have removed all other job side activities from the
original contract - which poses other problems.

I have developed a strained relationship with the architect. The working
relationship with the contractor is (historically) not much better. There
are two projects with this team. The first led into arguments and
accusations that omissions in my work was holding up the job. However, the
cause turned out to be a change in construction methods that differed from
my design. When the problem was resolved and a bill presented, the GC and
architect questioned every hour. They finally consented to pay, but I have
not received the check.

The second project is no better. The architect (actually a designer)
provided a preliminary set of plans for my design. Admittedly, I erred in
the direction of slope of the roof which was justified on the reflected
ceiling plan which I use for determination of bottom of beam elevations, but
I failed to scrutinize his section which shows it the way he contends. I
agreed to correct the drawings at my expense, but informed him that I would
charge him for other discrepancies caused by his changes which he failed to
make me aware of. He was enraged by this as I had a more liberal
relationship in the past but warned him that I could no longer afford to
design at pre-97 UBC design fees. His response was to hire another firm for
his present and, I assume, future projects.

The problem on this project escalated when the designer dropped the ball and
failed to provide me with updated architectural drawings that I requested
and from which I coordinate my structural. I asked numerous times. Once
through plan check, there was only two structural notes to add and all I
received was a fax with the request - no updated architectural. At permit
issuance, the designer held the drawings until the day he wanted to pull
permits and argued that he needed them signed and returned within an hour. I
quickly checked my structural and signed them off (I did not sign off
architectural). He controlled all sets since November and failed to take the
time to coordinate his sub-contractor's work to his architectural package.

Once construction started, the discrepancies appeared. I started to receive
demand letters that my plans were incomplete and elements which I designed
would not work. He pointed out that I placed shearwalls in locations of
plumbing walls and windows. His accusations upset me and I went back to the
drawings that he provided and found that the problem areas represented
changes that he made after the date of the plans he issued to me to base my
design.

I sent him copies of the drawings he provided and noted his errors. This
enraged him further as I refused to place my other clients on hold to
address these changes when he had the opportunity to review the work since
November. His rage started to grow and his email became angrier. He claims
that I spend so much time writing responses to him that I could solve the
problem instead of responding.  I didn't tell him how much pleasure I got
pointing out his mistakes and getting him upset.

Finally, I could take no more and I mailed off one of those bridge burning
letters. BTW, there are two others on our list who know who I am speaking of
without mentioning his name. Each refuses to work for the man again.
However, rather than escalate the potential problems and allow him to hire
an attorney  to pick apart my work, I chose to complete the construction
project in the following manner:

1. I called the GC and explained that there was no need to direct structural
questions through the Architect/designer. I instructed him to call me
directly. Messages sent from the framer to the GC (who really does not
understand the structural elements) and then to the designer, end up as a
completely different problem and one that has much more urgency attached
than the framer intended.

2. I asked the GC to allow his framer to contact me directly and offered to
copy any instructions I would give back to the GC so he was in the paper
trail.

3. I explained the strained relationship with the designer and informed the
GC that I reviewed the structural framing and was confident that it was
correct. I reminded him that he bid the work from my plans, and I expected
it to be constructed that way. If the designers plans were changed
significantly to prevent the structural elements from being constructed as
shown, it was his responsibility to bring them to my attention and request a
fix. If it was due to a change the designer made after submitting drawings
to me for design, I would charge the contractor who could obtain
reimbursement from the designer. The roof slope details I would provide at
no additional charge as I assume partial responsibility for this
discrepancy.

Essentially, I cut the Architect / designer out of the structural
construction unless his changes required revisions to my work. (BTW, he did
admit in writing that he continued to work on the architectural as I
designed the structural and "May not have" updated my reference drawings).
If he questions anything it would be to request a change for something the
owner wants and I would bill the designer for my work.

I think this is the best solution as I complete the project without
punishing the owner for the problems occurring between the designer and I. I
still am vulnerable to getting stiffed by the GC unless I stipulate to issue
a structural observation reports on a COD basis. This would create
resentment and additional problems.

One final note. I am sorry the relationship degraded as it had. I was
fortunate to meet the family of one of the larger custom homes I designed
from this guy. The family spent close to 1.5 million on decorating - hiring
a nationally recognized interior design firm which we had worked with on one
or two other projects. The home is magnificent. The owners hired a very good
contractor and got a very good job. I will miss these types of projects as
the homes are the Architectural Digest types that most of us wish we could
do once or twice in our career. Unfortunately, this "Jerk" has the clout to
obtain work such as this and his ideas are creative. It's too bad he thinks
that the only way to save the owners money (on a multi-million dollar home)
is to reduce material costs - thus comparing a high end home to an
inexpensive tract development. Furthermore, you do get what you pay for in
construction services. The majority of the homes I have done for him used
two construction companies which were a pleasure to work with but which
represented the upper end in construction cost. The latest projects are
using a framer who is experienced only in tracts where the developers he
works for count every sheet of plywood and complain when they feel that too
much has been added.


Thanks again for the advise,
Dennis S. Wish PE