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Re: Design of Valley Beams -- Fountain

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You propose a scary scenario.

My practice is in California, using the Uniform Building Code  (I know, I've
got to remember that there are other places and other ways of doing
things -- thanks for the reminder).  I based my
statements regarding Conventional Light-Frame Construction on Section 2305
of the Uniform Building Code.  That Section makes the conventional
light-framed wood provisions of Division IV an accepted means of complying
with the Building Code.  Division IV defines the kinds of buildings to which
it applies.

The rules of Division IV are prescriptive -- there are no requirements in it
that need an engineer's computations.  I understand that it is the intent of
the Division to allow an owner or a contractor to construct a house without
hiring an engineer or an architect to design it.  On the other hand, I know
of no part of the code that says that this section is only to be used by
non-engineers.  It stands as a means of Code compliance equal in status to a
design based on Chapter 16 for the buildings to which it complies.

Is a structural engineer responsible to refuse to design a building based on
Chapter 23, Division IV?  I suppose that a judge could make that
determination.  On the other hand, what is the sense of providing a client
with a design that was more expensive to prepare for a project that will be
more expensive to build just because the client was foolish enough to hire
an engineer to design it?  I believe that, even if the Conventional
Light-Framed Construction Provisions are used, an engineer familiar with
those Provisions can reliably be expected contribute to producing a more
effective design at less cost than may be produced by some (but certainly
not all) builders.

Included in the engineer's responsibilities, here, is to advise the client
of the relative costs and benefits of the alternative design methods, so
that the client is able to participate in the decision of which design
method the engineer is to use.

Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer

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