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Q: "Stick-Built" Metal Building?

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I got a request from a prospective client that I had never heard before.

It seems he is in the practice of buying metal building components from a
"parts list" submitted to a manufacturer, and then erecting the building
himself. He is not a contractor, more of a "developer," and he just
contracts the labor out as needed.

He came to me asking me to "stamp" a layout drawing. The drawing showed an
end-view of such a building-very typical, gable-end etc.-with piece-marks
and member sizes already noted. I sort of blinked at it and then asked
"well, how did you come up with these member sizes?"

"Those are the members I always use" was his response.

"Um, well who came up with the sizes?"

"I don't know, they're from a set of plans I've been using for awhile."

"What are the wind load requirement?"

He pointed to a note in one corner of the drawing, and I read "BOCA 1991
Wind Speed 90 MPH Exposure C."

I asked "Well, who has sealed your drawings in the past?"

"Well, I used to have an architect do it, but he charges too much money now,
and I just need it stamped real quick, so I can have it approved by the city
of ______________ so I can get a permit. How much do you charge to stamp the

I sidestepped that question, and asked who was doing the foundation ("Some
other guy's doing that"), why the other drawings in the set didn't need a
seal ("Well, I'm just going to do what the City requires") and above all how
he knew that this "design" was adequate ("We haven't had any problems with
the other buildings I've built").

As it stands, I'm trying to educate this guy as to where he needs to go.
I've got a call in to the building official in the city of ______________, a
small town northwest of Houston, to ask what their code requirements might
be. Hopefully, they require full adherence to the building code (probably
the SBC, regardless of what the drawing shows that he gave me).

Anyway, this is a very typical example of what we face here in Texas, where
the state has adopted no building code, the counties are prohibited by
statute from adopting a building code, and contractors are not required to
be licensed and simply do whatever they feel they can get away with.


William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
Katy, TX, USA
Phone (281) 492-2251
FAX (281) 492-8203
email bill(--nospam--at)

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