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RE: building permits

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Ya know, when I made the contractor saw cut and remove the foundation he
poured just a day earlier last week, I was pissed and I felt sorry for
him. But then when I came back a couple of days ago and still see the 3"
diameter sink pipe cut through the middle of a Hardy Frame template I
felt no guilt in embarrassing him in front of the owner-especially when
he asked why it had to be moved. 

The building departments, plan checks, and the other hoops we jump
through aren't the perfect system by any means. But I'd rather have them
than have the system say like in Texas for example where its every gun
slinger for themselves (a PE stamp is like being a US Marshall, I AM THE
LAW !!!)

Here in California, all drawings and calculations are "checked" by the
building department. But I still see all kinds of things that shouldn't
be allowed continue. I look at other firms plans and wonder how they get
away with some of the things they do. I see plans calling for 1/2" welds
on 1/4" thick steel, pre-northridge connections on SMRF's in apartments,
HD14's on a double 2x4 end post into a 12" deep edge footing with a #4
T+B, or tilt-up panels with no wall anchorage system. I especially like
the shearwall sitting on plywood with not even a 2x beam underneath on
an upper floor. But these are all from well known firms built by the big
contractors so everything will be fine I'm sure. I think some building
departments recognize the name of the firm and just rubber stamp
approved much of the time.

The problem is the contractors and the inspection requirements. I
engineer the shit out of something and then Billy Bob does whatever the
hell he wants to and says "well isn't that okay?". Structural
Observation should be mandatory on all projects - even residential. City
inspections are for the most part a complete joke when it comes to
structural. Plan checking is now mostly done by PE's where as about 5-6
years ago I'd say that wasn't true - this is good. But a 15 minute walk
through by a city inspector won't catch anything but the obvious "take
the coke can out of the footing before you pour concrete."

It's part of the job unfortunately. No one gives a damn until the
earthquake comes and everything is our fault then. It's even worse
around here now because of the DOT COM implosion, contractors are doing
wood framed work who have been doing tilt-up or steel for years are
forced into residential work and think they know everything because it's
just a house.

My favorite contractor quote of last week "When in the hell did these
Hardy Frames become so damn popular?" followed by "You mean I can't run
this pipe vertically through the hardy frame?" 

I better shut up now, I'm boring myself with this whining.

-gerard
Santa Clara, CA
 


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