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RE: UBC 1997 Special Inspections Zone 4

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As you can see, there is considerable confusion about the difference and
significance of supervision, inspection, and observation.
The differing language (or lack thereof) in the practice acts, the business
and professions code, and the Uniform Building Code do not really clear this
up.  While it is clear to some, the fact that questions in this area
constantly arise is alone evidence of the lack of attention given to clarify
the language.
I have always thought that it would be beneficial for the UBC to clearly
define supervision, inspection, and observation as terms alone in Chapter 2,
to help professionals incorporate clearer language into the construction
I have always found it helpful to actually define these terms on the
construction documents where the UBC fails to do so.  So that:
Supervision-performed by the contractor
Inspection-performed by the Deputy inspector and the jurisdiction
Observation-performed by the engineer of record.
When, how, and who should do the work is something that is invaluable to the
construction documents.  After all, being clear is what the documents should
be about.
I don't believe it is possible, unless I misunderstand the intent, for
inspectors to perform structural observation.  While it is possible to
delegate the functions of observation to another engineer, observation is
still the responsibility of the engineer of record.
Structural observation is required under the 5 conditions given in the UBC.
If your project is located in Zone 4 and you fall under the auspices of
condition number 3, then chances are pretty good that observation is
required by you or someone acting on behalf of the engineer of record.  A
person who is an inspector may be hired by the engineer of record to do the
observation work, but that person is no longer an inspector.
I think observation came about not only so that what was on the drawings
would be incorporated into the structure, but also as another cog in the
process to insure that the design intent was put into the structure.  I
don't think someone other than the engineer of record is privy to the design
intent, therefore it being of benefit to be done by the engineer of record.
Harold Sprague had an excellent posting with language that helps clear this
up,  but in a profession which greatly benefits everyone by being clear,
more work in this area always helps.
Bart Needham, SE

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Marshall [mailto:ed.marshall(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:59 AM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Subject: RE: UBC 1997 Special Inspections Zone 4

>From the CA Professional Engineers Act, Business and Professions Code,
Sections 6700 - 6799, CHAPTER 7 

"6735.1. Construction supervision; legal duty The signing of civil
engineering plans, specifications, reports, or documents which relate to the
design of fixed works shall not impose a legal duty or responsibility upon
the person signing the plans, specifications, reports, or documents to
supervise the construction of engineering structures or the construction of
the fixed works which are the subject of the plans, specifications, reports,
or documents.  ..."

Sounds like if you've delegated the inspection to properly qualified persons
you're not "required" to personally visit the site (although there are many
circumstances which would make it necessary for the EOR to view the site).

Ed Marshall, PE 

-----Original Message----- 
From:   Teresa Dellies [SMTP:DelliesTM(--nospam--at)] 
Sent:   Wednesday, May 31, 2000 11:50 AM 
To:     ed.marshall(--nospam--at) 
Subject:        UBC 1997 Special Inspections Zone 4 

I have a project in California, seismic zone 4 with Na=1.1. We are hiring a
SPECIAL INSPECTOR to perform all required inspections and observations. My
question is this...When would I be "required" to visit the site myself? 

Thank you