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Re: Building Standards, Aase ruling

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I can't speak for all, but we use the same approach and standards on all
projects, commercial or custom residential.  My residential experience is
all fairly high end (6k to 20k sq. ft.), I have never worked on tracts,
townhomes, etc.

I think one part of your perception that commercial structures are held to a
higher standard is that in the code (UBC) they are.  There are all kinds of
exceptions and reduced requirements for residential R-3 construction, in
virtually every section of the code, not to mention the conventional
construction provisions for wood framed structures (i.e. residential).

It is not that we the engineering community hold these structures to a lower
standard, but the governing bodies hold these structures to a lower
standard.  I can see where there would be a tremendous amount of resistance
by the builders and developers of large residential projects towards any
attempt by the design professional to ignore the exceptions and require
higher standards.  The requests for substitutions and changes would either
bury you, or the cost would be so much higher that the GC / Developer might
find paying someone else to design to the permissible lower standards is
more cost effective and remove you from the project.

The same thing occurs on commercial structures in limited instances.  Roof
truss substitutions come to mind.  I have even had P/T parking structures
where a precast outfit will bid the project including re-engineering the
whole thing with the claim that the overall cost will be competitive.  The
fact that you may, as I do, prefer cast in place P/T to precast as a
superior building system will have very little effect on the final outcome
if indeed the precast outfit provides lower numbers.

As a side note, I am frequently astonished at the absurd approach to cost
analysis that many GC's use.  The cost will compare element to element, but
completely neglect additional labor and components that may be required by
other trades as a result of a cost savings on this one...  The educated
contractor that looks at overall systems costs is not the rule in my
experience, particularly in lowrise industrial / commercial development.

As my college professor used to say, the principle of conservation of grief
is as immutable as conservation of energy.

Paul Feather
----- Original Message -----
From: "Dan Goodrich" <dang(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2001 9:18 AM
Subject: Re: Aase ruling

> This brings up an interesting point.  There is a perception
> out there that commercial projects should be built to a
> higher standard than residential.  Shouldn't they be the
> same?  I've designed homes that are significantly larger
> than some of the commercial projects I've worked on.
> I realize that there will be differences based on
> occupancy and other related matters.
> Are we as an engineering community holding commercial
> jobs to a higher standard than homes?  One example I
> can think of would be the amount of reinforcing required
> in foundation walls.
> Dan Goodrich, P.E.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Neil Moore" <nmoore(--nospam--at)>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
> Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2001 8:33 PM
> Subject: RE: Aase ruling
> > Jason and Dennis:
> >
> > On the other hand,  I had a take-over project with 46 townhouses.  23
> > uphill and 23 downhill, basically two plans, each alike.  The
> > framing and exterior stucco completed.  Although every one of the  plans
> > were the same, it appeared to be a different crew on each one.
> >
> > Took us three years to complete the project, including putting a
> structural
> > designer on the site to straightened out all of the glitches.  The
> > superintendent,  who was from a central California mountain area,
> > us of "commercially" engineering the buildings.  Of course the project
> > a 1000 feet from the San Andreas fault and was on a high bluff facing
> > ocean.
> >
> > The sherriff came in one day and took him off the project.  This was
> > sometime after he had threatened one of my engineers.
> >
> > Neil Moore,  S.E.
> > neil moore and associates
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >