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RE: Calculation Submittal

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I agree that it is proper to '...clearly state assumptions and provide
partial written commentary
within the calculations for various design decisions or rationales."  If
you can't explain why you
 did something, it is likely that you don't know what you are doing.

While I find the AISC Manual useful I do not consider it a standard,
although it does contain 
standards, and thus would not list it as such.  But this does not keep me
from referencing a 
page in a manual if it helps explain where a number came from or helps to
document a procedure.  
This may be semantics to some but any attorney will tell you that the
proper choice of words
can have a significant impact on the outcome of a dispute.  

The idea is not to ignore the lessons we learned, but rather to implement
them in a manner
 that is sensitive to the legal/ liability considerations that impact our

As for the fact that engineers, myself included, tend to work harder than
they need to I would like
 to offer, only partly in jest, the suggestion that we need dumber lazier
engineers.  Too many of the 
smart young engineers can do amazing things with spreadsheets and other
computer programs.  
The problem is that this often does not lead to better or faster solutions.
 On the other hand a dumber 
and lazy engineer would try to find simplier and faster solutions which
could result in higher quality 
and more profit.

Mark Gilligan


The answer to your question would have to be "habit".  I was taught early
my career to provide calculations with references to the codes or books
where information is taken from.  I also clearly state assumptions and
provide partial written commentary within the calculations for various
design decisions or rationales.  The phrase that comes to mind is
"footprints in the snow".  I or anyone else can pick up the calcs years
later and see exactly what was done, and where the information came from.
Is this "correct", I would not presume to say. I can only speak for myself,
this approach is how I was initiated and has worked very well for me over
time, particularly when modifying previous buildings.  I probably work much
harder than I have too, but that is a personal problem. :-)

The UBC does reference the other codes as well as approved alternate
national standards.  But the manuals listed are much more than simply the
UBC referenced codes in my mind.  There is the additional wealth of
information provided in tables, design aids, and commentary that are not
necessarily part of the adopted specifications referenced in the UBC.  We
list them at the beginning and then reference the various areas whenever
information is utilized in the calculations.  Again, is this "correct", I
not know, but it is my interpretation.

As to whether I feel compelled to give the owner a warranty, I can honestly
say that I am a better engineer than businessman. :-)  I spoke with my
liability attorney this morning after reading your post and she was mildly
horrified.  In light of what was discussed we are looking at revising or
deleting the wording of the initial sentence "All calculations and
specifications conform to the established guidelines set forth by:".  For
this I thank you.

Paul Feather

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