Subject: Re: Structural Engineers becoming isolated from the design team.
From: Lynn H <lhoward(--nospam--at)silcom.com>
Date: Sat, 01 Apr 2000 09:09:26 -0800
You stated -
> I am finding that engineers are
> becoming increasingly isolated from other members of the design/construction
> team. Animosity is growing as new construction becomes more restrictive for
> fully compliant engineering.
We have found the opposite to be true. Architects
seeks our services out more as they are aware that
it is increasingly difficult for them to do their
engineering in-house and be Code compliant.
Contractors call us more asking questions because
they want to get it right, not because they want to
You said -
> In the meantime, I am finding that I am taking a considerable amount of
> verbal abuse. Most come in the form of comments suggesting that engineers,
> as a whole, aggressively over design structures at the expense of the
> public. Every contractor touts his ability to construct a building that has
> never been damaged, but stipulates that even the best engineer will not be
> able to assure performance in a large magnitude quake.
I have heard statements like this from contractors
since the first day I set foot on a job site over 25
years ago. My first project was not a residential
project, but a Nuclear Power Plant in San Onofre.
Our design team in LA was allowed to do a field
trip. I was personally "attacked" (verbally) by the
steel erectors (the guy shooting the studs on the
steel beams said he had never in all his life seen
so many studs put on structural steel beams before,
and wanted to know which of us idiots was
responsible for the design) and the rebar guy
putting the steel on the containment dome (#18 at 9"
o.c. if I remember right). The Contractor was
building it and complaining the whole time about how
we had over designed the Nuclear Power Plant. Doing
wood framed additions to houses gets the same kinds
of comments. Contractors always have and always
will complain about engineers over designing. I
have taken the position that if the Contractor is
NOT complaining, then I have done something wrong.
This is nothing new. Some things will never change.
You stated -
> I believe that those of us who practice in residential design are having a
> tougher time creating and maintaining a relationship with our clients and
> potential clients. I find that new clients are looking for one important
> trait - an engineer who is willing to disregard compliance with the new
> code. This is not difficult to do in areas outside major jurisdictions as
> most small office professionals are not taking the time to understand and
> learn the intent surrounding the code methodology. Many of these have
> developed shortcuts which they believe will justify their decision, but I
> believe the truth is that they are lost and don't have the time to study as
> intensely as others in jurisdictions that enforce full compliance.
We have not found this to be true. We recently
hired an EIT who was working for a small
architectural firm doing drafting and engineering.
This fellow had no other engineers with whom to
collaborate. He was basically hired by this
architect about 3 years ago to do drafting and his
engineering on type V, one and two story
structures. This way the architect would not have
to hire an outside engineering consultant.
The engineer wanted to move on so he could get his
license, so he joined our firm. We were very happy
to see that this fellow was right on top of the 1997
UBC seismic design provisions. His only training
was his own study of the Code, and various seminars
his boss had sent him to on the new Code.
I have no idea what engineers are doing in other
places, but I would not minimize the abilities of
your fellow engineers. For the most part, from what
I see, engineers are trying to learn the code and
are trying to properly design to it.