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RE: Advertising Engineering Services

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I brought this to the attention of the DCA (Architectural Licensing in
California) so as to complain about a local architect who had been wet
stamping structural analysis and plans produced by engineers outside of
the United States. I received a phone call from a representative of the
DCA. He wanted to call, rather than simply send an e-mail to respond to
my inquiry.
The Business and Practice laws for architects allows them total
authority to hire any consultant that they want and, as long as he/she
is willing to take responsibility for the work, need have no specific
knowledge of structural engineering. In other words, he is allowed to
rubber stamp the work of any consultant he chooses and if a permit is
issued, the architect has completed his or her responsibility. 
The only time it can be questioned is when a failure or problem occurs
with the structural design. Outside of this, the Architect is not even
required to perform Structural Observation unless he or she is
contracted for these services by the client.
If the flaws pass through plan check, the responsibility lies with the
architect. There is no further requirement on the architects part to
have any specific knowledge in the areas that are represented by his
consultants and his consultants need not be licensed engineers as long
as the architect takes responsibility for the design.
While this is a dangerous act, it is performed here in the desert. The
Architect I referred to was set up in an office on the American side of
Mexico. He was hired by a Truss company and paid a flat fee to wet-stamp
their truss calculations (he relied on the computer program that
designed the trusses), he wet stamped all structural work which was done
by a firm in Mexico City, and finally, he wet stamped the Architectural.
According to the DCA - he was completely in his rights to do this.

Dennis S. Wish, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Allen [mailto:T.W.Allen(--nospam--at)cox.net] 
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2003 11:40 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Advertising Engineering Services


Something that has wrangled me for years are architectural firms
advertising or implying that they provide structural engineering
services. I know that laws vary from state to state and I am only
interested in California (sorry), but does anyone know what the "rules"
are for this activity? Yes, I know the B&P code allows architects to
provide structural engineering (with certain exceptions related to
schools and hospitals - I really don't want this thread to get into a
debate on the specifics of the exceptions, please), but few (and none
that I know) actually provide this service. They all hire out with the
exception of TRUE A&E firms who have in house architects and engineers.
I have no beef with these firms but there are several who advertise this
service who a.) do not have an engineer on staff nor b.) have the
expertise to actually perform structural engineering. I have encountered
firms whose name is "ABC Architects and Engineers", "John Doe, Inc. -
Architecture, Interiors, Planning and Engineering" or some who merely
list structural engineering as a service that they provide (in their
literature or on their website), implying that this service is available
by in-house staff where, in reality as we all know, the service is
provided by an outside consultant. I know that the term "engineer" is
not protected as the term "architect" and a lot of folks get around the
"structural engineer" title authority by just using the term "engineer"
when everyone (except BORPELS) realizes is used to imply structural
engineering.

Your response is appreciated.

Regards,

T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E. (CA #2607)
San Juan Capistrano, CA



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