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RE: Structural Observation

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Observation and inspection are two totally different things. 
If I were to perform an observation, I'd walk the site and write a field report saying something like "Foundation walls were 50% complete....Steel erection has begun..." and only point out problems that were obvious during a quick walk through.
If I were performing an inspection, I'd monitor the laborers putting up forms, I'd check the rebar size, spacing, surface conditions, etc. and write something like "Rebar size, spacing, clear cover etc. etc. etc. at column H-7 were inspected prior to concrete placement, no exceptions were taken."
I'd find out what they expect you to do.  One obviously carries a lot more liability.  We expect to make a couple of Observation trips as part of our basic services.  Inspections are another contract.
In Connecticut Special Inspections programs are almost routinely administered by the Engineer of Record.  It's nothing more than a quality assurance program that is specified - and in the best cases administered by - the structural engineer. Testing labs work as an agent for the administrator of the program - namely THE Special Inspector.  The whole program is based on the code requirements of Chapter 17 of any of the model building codes. (At least BOCA, IBC, or UBC - I think Southern Building Code has something similar, but not nearly as sophisticated.)
It's mind boggling how different this is practiced across the U.S.  We once hired someone who said his office in Kentucky intentionally designed to avoid Special Inspections.  (I'm not sure how you do that.)

Peter Griem, P.E.
Glastonbury, CT  


 -----Original Message-----
From: George Richards P.E. [mailto:george(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 11:32 AM
To: 'seaint(--nospam--at)'
Subject: RE: Structural Observation

Make the call yourself and put in on the plans that way.  The city is only saying "We believe it prudent for the EOR to walk the project."  At that point your professional judgment comes into play.   We consider three visits appropriate for a house.  Prepour, framing prior to roof being papered, and a final peek just before insulation.  By the way we offer Site Observation to our clients for ALL projects and price it for them BEFORE we do the work.  That way there is no argument latter.  Also not offering Site Observation is like going to the doctors for an operation and and the doctor not wanting you to come back two weeks later for a follow-up exam.  Bad profession practice.
George Richards, P. E.
-----Original Message-----
From: VerneK(--nospam--at) [mailto:VerneK(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 6:17 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Structural Observation

This has happened to me on numerous occasions.  In residencial projects,
structural site observations is generally not required by the UBC unless it falls under the requirements of Chapter 16 (Na>1, etc... can't remember the exact section).  It
has however been a requirement by some citiy's building official that a site
observation be made (i.e.  City of Dublin, CA) regardless if it is required by the
UBC or not...  That doesn't bother me too much, however... they have always
come back with a questionaire that asks...what structural items do you need
to look at?  It seems to me that if they are the one requiring the structural observations,  shouldn't they be the ones telling us what to look at?