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Re: RE: Plan Checking

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And how much mistaken I was when I thought that the things were brighter 
on the other side of the globe!

Perhaps a crow is a crow. A shade less or more - it remains BLACK.

RP Mehrotra

----- Original Message -----
From: "Gerard Madden" <gmadden(--nospam--at)>
Date: Friday, May 4, 2001 11:41 am
Subject: Re: RE: Plan Checking

> Sid, 
> You definately prove the point for the need for plan checkers. I 
> wish every city ( AND STATE )had someone like you running things.
> Let me qualify my statements by saying that most of the plan check 
> engineers on this list are excellent (well, at least the ones we 
> hear from regularly- Scott Haan, Sid, Ben Yousefi .... a few 
> others I am drawing a blank on right now) But there are some in 
> your positions who abuse their power and some down right don't do 
> their jobs.
> Example 1: (I will keep the municipalities anonymous, but will 
> identify them as either in house or private agency)  I submitted 
> structural calculations for some roof top equipments on a tilt-up 
> building that utilitez double cantilever glulam roof framing 
> system. I modeled the continuous spans in RISA and placed numerous 
> moving loads simulating the weight of the units in an attempt to 
> prove that any spacing would work and show the glulams would work. 
> I used RISA to generate the moment and shear envelopes and 
> reactions. I summarized the results by printing out the force 
> diagrams, the load cases, and the reactions. I then, calced the 
> glulam capacity based on a positive bending situation and negative 
> bending for the various sizes and spans of glulam. I show the 
> system works all the way to the foundation. Then I get plan check 
> comments: 1) Provide calculations showing the forces in the 
> glulam. 2). Complete Special Inspection form signed by EOR.
> I call up City Plan Checker and say (politely), here is my plan 
> check No., look on calc. page 1, where I state my method of 
> analysis (Computer) and all the load diagrams, force diagrams, and 
> subsequent checks. I get the response, well how do I know the 
> program is working right? I say fine, I'll send you the 25 page 
> print out that is represented in the force diagrams.
> Week later... Call from Owner mad because Plan Checker states 
> "These calculations are not complete". Next ... sit down meeting 
> with the plan checker and owner at the city .... I go through 
> original calculations page by page, re-iterate that I gave him the 
> detailed print out and that the calculations are complete.... Plan 
> Checker responds "How do I know the program is working" I tell him 
> RISA is a proven program and this is only a beam analysis ... If 
> he wants to verify it himself, go ahead. Then plan checker says " 
> Oh, I don't remember influence lines and all that stuff... this 
> will take me about 2 weeks to go through and I don't have that 
> kind of time"  Owner gets pissed, says just make this guy happy, I 
> don't care what I have to pay ... I end up doing everything by 
> hand and then I get the god damn inspection report comment again, 
> even though it was returned at the face to face meeting.... PURE 
> Example 2: (This One is Shorter)... Same municipality hires an 
> outside plan check agency to check 3 tilt-up buildings I designed. 
> These buildings were phase II in a 7 building business park. The 
> 1st four buildings were designed 8 months previous under 94 UBC 
> while my buildings were under 97 UBC. I get the plan check 
> comments which number 24 in total. I go to my boss and tell him 
> I'm about to start the plan check response, most of it is crap and 
> they are not reading the general notes, it will probably take me 
> about 10 hours. He asks me who checked it, I tell him and he goes 
> Oh.... here you go. He hands me the plan check from phase I. Phase 
> one had 24 comments... All of them IDENTICAL to mine, just 
> renumbered. Not a single mention or comment on any code changes 
> from 94 to 97 ... A total rip off for everyone involved. What do I 
> do ... I take the old plan check response letter AND RENUMBER IT 
> !!! 1 Revision to the general notes adding an ICBO number for 
> powder driven fasteners and that's it.
> These two examples should not happen in my opinion. It is not the 
> engineer's responsibilty to prove he validity of commercially 
> available software and to spend my own time and clients money so 
> the plan checker can feel okay. WHat if I gave this guy a dynamic 
> analysis or base isolated building in ETABS or SAP. He will send 
> it out of course, but I am I supposed to drag the CSI Staff with 
> me to a meeting with the plan checker so they can explain gauss 
> elimination and bandwith optimization to a guy with a degree in 
> sociology. 
> The 2nd example is simply fraud. No check was performed but I'm 
> sure the price was even higher than the 1st check because of the 
> new code.City gets ripped off, client gets ripped off because I 
> bill for my time responding to garbage.
> This kind of crap drags down the good plan check engineers that 
> ask good questions. I feel I'm a better than average design 
> engineer ... but I make mistakes and plan checkers have found 
> those mistakes. They found the mistakes because they CHECKED and 
> knew what to look for and what was important. I have plan checked 
> a few jobs for cities when they were overloaded. In about an 1 
> hour, I picked one god awful design to death ( Like Sid was saying 
> ... engineer designed to old code, using ultimate capacities 
> against allowable demand forces etc....) simple things. Irs not 
> that hard to figure out if the engineer know what he is doing.
> Plan checking is something I don;t think I could do because I 
> would get frustrated at the amount of garbage that passed across 
> my table that was wrong. I know the job is difficult, but perhaps 
> the ICBO certification and PE license should be mandatory 
> (although my 2nd example was checked by a PE ). 
> I think that at the very least, all plan checkers should be 
> licensed CE's. Seminars should be mandatory for checkers because 
> it is not the same reviewing something versus designing all the 
> time. Seminars should also be mandatory for all PE's as well. 
> Continuing education is important, companies should be active in 
> supporting their employee's attendance, just as Palmdale has for Sid.
> My 2 cents.
> -gerard
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