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RE: Standards for Plan Detail

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Ahhhh....the "art" of engineering:

Determining how much detail is enough to clearly build from and not too much
so that you can afford to stay in business.

With all due respect, Ed, if your experience level (E.I.T.) is "normal",
these are issues typically relegated to more senior personnel such as
principals. Apparently, your boss likes to delegate ;o).

One of the most important concepts that is MANDATORY is that the entire
staff has to understand that each job (O.K., most jobs) MUST make money. It
is LIFE AND DEATH (to the company) that projects go out the door at or under
budget. I don't care how smart or how skilled the staff is but, in private
practice where work is highly competitive, you will be looking for a new job
in no time if you can't regularly meet budget even if that budget is
unrealistic. It is imperative that everyone down to the most junior
technician understands the gravity (no pun intended) of this concept.

One thing I learned when I was trying to build a business is there was one
thing more important than engineering skill and an abundance of work and
that was cash flow.

If you have a draftsman that wants to continually draw to the utmost detail
and accuracy while constantly ignoring your pleas to stay within budget, you
need to let him go today regardless how skilled he is. He will hurt the
entire company if you don't. On the other hand, the project must be drawn,
annotated and sufficiently detailed to avoid those costly telephone calls
from the field or massive plan check corrections. It's an art and a balance
that comes with experience.

Next, you need to come up with a set of cad standards that everyone in the
office buys into. If you have a "renegade" in your office, you need to have
your principal sit down with him/her and explain the career benefits of
becoming a team member. That's about as diplomatic as I ever got :o). Also,
keep in mind that your cad standards are dynamic and are open to change when
there is a good reason to change 'em. You should probably have regular
(monthly?) meetings to review your cad standards. I used to like to have
these kinds of meetings on paydays. Everyone seems to be in the office that
day. I would buy lunch and hold the meetings at lunch hour.

There is nothing wrong with drawing joist hangers. However, it does not have
to be exactly to scale. A face mount hanger detail will work for a 2x6 up to
a 4x14 or so. Right? Annotate the detail something like "BEAM PER FRAMING
PLAN" and "SIMPSON HUS2x" or something similar.

To facilitate detailing, I would suggest creating a block library that
everyone in your office is familiar with. I would suggest not getting too
enamored with a detail library. It could get to be that your detail library
gets so extensive, it soon will take more time to find the detail you are
looking for than to draw a new one from scratch. AMHIK. But blocks are a
Good Thing (tm).

Probably more importantly is to set up the job correctly in the first place.
You are probably already doing this since you have been accustomed to going
outside for your cad work. But, try to have everything done when you hand
the job to a technician. All annotations, framing, etc., details, notes.
Everything done when you hand it to the technician.

You have a challenging task ahead of you. After all, there are a lot more
engineers out there that can assemble a 3x3 stiffness matrix by hand than
there are who can manage a positive cash flow.

Good luck,

Bill Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
Laguna Niguel, CA

||-----Original Message-----
||From: Ed Fasula [mailto:tibbits2(--nospam--at)]
||Sent: Tuesday, June 13, 2000 6:26 AM
||To: seaint(--nospam--at)
||Subject: Standards for Plan Detail
||Our small firm has fairly recently moved our CAD work
||in-house.  In the past, we used a drafter who bid each job,
||and had a vested interest in keeping costs low.
||Now that we control the CAD, there seems to be a tendency
||among everyone in the office to heap on more and more detail.
|| In addition, the drafter we hired is a perfectionist and
||likes to draw everything - even Simpson hangers - to exacting
||The degree of detail and multitude of (duplicated) notes is
||expensive and can become, in my view, counter-productive.
||I'm in the process of developing some standards to define
||where to "draw the line".  And I'm looking for some
||references and/or guidelines to help us get it right the first time.
||Thanks in advance for any help.
||Ed Fasula E.I.T.