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When is an Architect or Engineer Require

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It appears that the first place to look would be Texas' Architectural and 
Engineering registration laws regarding the definition of "architectural 
services," and "engineering services."

The second place to look would be the jurisdiction's building code, regarding 
what is exempt from being performed by a registrant.  (Don't look at what is 
exempt from a building permit, because all work, exempt from a permit or not, 
has to comply with the building code.)

The installation of tapered joists indicates to me that the building had a 
ponding problem, and a ponding problem means a potential structural problem, 
which means that a Structural Engineer should have been involved.

Now, what specifications was the successful(?) bidder supposed to comply 
with?  If he/she sent a letter and said, "This is what I propose .... ," 
without reference to the "facility consultant's" specifications, and the 
association accepted it, the specifications by the "facility consultant" are 
out the window.  They are not part of any agreement now.

But, these fine details are in the area that a lawyer needs to address, not 
an engineer.  The engineering questions would be:

1. Was the work such that an engineer needed to be involved in preparing the 
plans and specifications?

2. Was the work such that an architect needed to be involved in preparing the 
plans and specifications?

3. What is the state law regarding architectural and engineering services?

4. What does the jurisdiction's building code say about having the plans and 
specifications prepared by a registrant?

5. Was the contractor's proposed work compliant with the building code 
regardless of whether or not it was prepared by a registrant?


A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Aridzona

Bill Polhemus wrote:

. > I know that I need to research this topic more thoroughly--and I intend to
. > do so--but I'd like some informed opinions from this list if I might.

. > I have an ongoing forensic job, where a contractor made an extremely 
. > botched attempt at installing new roofs on the buildings of a condominium
. > complex. This was a major undertaking, in that the project was valued at 
. > about $650,000.

. > In doing my investigation, I discovered that the owner's association, who
. > contracted to have this work done, had received "consulting services" 
. > from a "facility consultant." This consultant provided a pretty decent 
. > set of bid documents--essentially a set of specifications--and at least 
. > in theory was responsible for receiving the contractor bids and advising 
. > on the awarding of the bid.

. > Without going into too much detail, the winning bid appears to have come
. > from a contractor who did not even attempt to address the bid document, 
. > but faxed in a three-page "this is what we're going to do" proposal which
. > ignored the spec. For whatever reason, he was given the job.

. > Ostensibly the "facility consultant" was also engaged to provide
. > "construction management," which in reality turned out to be having some
. > young man standing on the roof watching while the contractor did his 
. > thing.

. > This "facility consultant representative," for lack of a more precise 
. > term, never filed any reports that I can see, nor attempted to hold the
. > contractor to the specification that the contractor was, at least in 
. > theory, supposed to be using in supplying materials and providing 
. > installation of the new roof.

. > Things came to a head when one of the condo residents, an outspoken critic
. > of the project from the beginning, "blew the whistle" and informed the 
. > City of Houston Code Enforcement office that the roofing was being done
. > without a permit. The city "red-tagged" the job, and shut them down.

. > Bear in mind that part of this project required removal of the old 
. > built-up roof system down to the original plywood decking, laying down 
. > tapered lumber rafters and new decking, and a multi-ply roof membrane on 
. > top of that. So there was some "structural" work going on, and the City
. > correctly pointed out that a building permit was needed (the contractor, 
. > with apparent agreement on the part of the "facility consultant," had
. > maintained that no building permit was needed for "refoofing"--as if all 
. > that was being done was replacement of the membrane).

. > In the end, the roofer had to get a structural engineer to provide some
. > sealed "plans" for the "design" of the new roof. I won't even attempt to
. > describe the ridiculous 8-1/2" x 11" document that constituted the 
. > "plans."

. > These "plans" were in turn based on a sketch included by the "facility
. > consultant" in their bid documents. That sketch showed the tapered rafters
. > being connected to the existing roof, etc., in what can only be, in my
. > opinion, an overt attempt to provide structural engineer services.

. > While the contractor's "plans" WERE sealed by a P.E.--long after the job 
. > had reached the 40% completion mark--they essentially copied what the 
. > "facility consultant" had done.

. > Now I find out that no one at the "facility consultant" is a licensed
. > architect OR engineer. Yet they were putting out this bid specification, 
. > and "managing" the project after the bid was awarded, supposedly in terms 
. > of this spec. The "facility consultant" never made any attempt to make 
. > sure a building permit was obtained--and why? Because, at least my own 
. > theory goes, they knew they were not able to seal the bid document with an
. > architect's or engineer's seal.

. > What I would like to know is, based on what you have read here, is this 
. > not an illegal attempt to practice unlicensed engineering or architecture?

. > Comments, please.

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