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ethics/ lighter side

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I just joined this list this week and it is nice to know that there is a
forum for a free flow of information for our profession. I have already
learned some things this week that have been very helpful.

I really appreciated all the jokes about how structural items either being
misprounounced, misunderstood, or just plain incorrect. I find myself saying
rebar, but I would never put it on drawings. Correct me if I am wrong, is it
not just an easy way to say steel reinforcing bar? I work in the south
(well, sort of, Florida), and hear masonary, footer, etc. Those do not
bother me as much as saying cement instead of concrete, or using brand names
in place of the common names. I have heard "Red Heads" used when they
generically mean masonry screws; these types of mistakes can lead to
confusion, because not all products are equal. Really my favorite thing to
hear from a contractor in the field, especially with wood framing, is that
either "Oh, this thing is REAL strong or REAL sturdy" or that "I have been
doin' it like this for 20 years". I hate to seem like a pretentious, office
engineer, who is 15 years younger then the person I am speaking with, and
all the while in the back of my head I am thinking, "Oh my gosh, this guy
has been doing it wrong for 20 years."

What are your answers to these types of comments? Unfortunately in FL anyone
with a Civil PE can "be" an SE. And I have seen some really bad designs and
some bad buildings. So how do you change the mentality of an experienced
contractor, that we are not just conservative, office geeks, who overdesign
everything? We rely heavily on the building code for the latest requirements
and loads, and then design the structure to the best of our ability, to
provide a safe, long lasting, and as economical as possible structure? That
some things done in the past were wrong? (In FL engineers seemed to have
learned a lot from Hurricane Andrew, but not as much contractors. In
California, do contractors seem to understand seismic considerations and
really listen and trust in SEs?.)

On ethics, if you are driving around and you see a building being built and
you see something you percieve to be a problem, what can and what should you
do? Real life example: A masonry screen wall at least 10ft tall with a
continuous footing only @ 2ft wide in a high speed area.

If you are hired to do renovation engineering work on a building and notice
other deficiencies, how much are you responsible outside the scope of your
work? How about the owner? What if you tell the owner and he says, I am not
paying for that, that was already there, don't worry about it. What if it is
completely outside of the scope of your work, in a different part of the

I will say that in my short career, in my experience, any building built at
least 15 years ago, in FL especially, would not be able to withstand the
newest code lateral wind loads. Some buildings seem to designed without
regard to lateral load resistance.

Andrew Kester, EI

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