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RE: "Water in the Hole"

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To take your last question first:
You make a mistake when you believe that "rational decision" is the only ingredient for the adoption of public laws. I don't care where you are on this big blue blue ball, politics is king.
In the case of Texas--as I'm sure that other Texas members of this list, like Brother Caldwell can attest--the developer and the construction lobbies are very strong. That's just the way it is. Developers don't want "nosy bureaucrats" breathing down their necks when they want to build, and contractors don't want to have to compete on an "unlevel playing field"--meaning that they know themselves better than anyone else does and they know that for every one of them that abides by the "rules," there'll be three who WON'T, and will win jobs based on price. This is another reason that contractor licensure is not required in Texas.
What we have got to do in this state is what we ALWAYS have to do when "truth, justice and the American Way" are at issue: Lobby. We have come a long way. We do for example now have a statewide RESIDENTIAL building code--albeit with no teeth since it still must be adopted at the local level and the counties are--again I repeat--EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN BY STATUTE from adopting a building code.

Still it was a symbolic victory if only that.
There was a time when we didn't have tort reform of any kind, and where you as a structural engineer remained "perpetually liable" for anything you had ever done in your life. As if the practice of engineering and the practice of murder were somehow morally equivalent. Now, at least, we have a ten-year limitation of liability. Chugging along, inches at a time as it were.
So I have hope, but I'm getting disgusted with the state of things. I am about ready to propose at the upcoming SEAOT state conference that we "form a committee" to address the issue of continued construction "malpractice" in our state, with the aim of pressing for adoption of a statewide building code, and allowing counties to create enforcement offices to oversee it. I look forward to the day when you have to have a building permit to build anywhere in the state. Sounds funny coming from a "Republican," but there are some things that STATE government is supposed to do, and to me this is one of them.
I'll probably be laughed straight into h*ll, but there you go.

End of Rant for today.
Oh, and as per your first question: I have no problem with what the Geotech proposed, only that he isn't responsible for the piers and ought to have reminded the contractor of that point. The geotech's concerns are noted, but he was really operating under faulty information. He was told the holes were "dry" after they were pumped out, and that wasn't the case. FWIW, his own inspector told him this was so.
-----Original Message-----
From: Tripp Howard [mailto:tripphoward(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, July 21, 2003 4:19 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: "Water in the Hole"

What gets me about the situation is that you are the engineer of record.  What authority does the geotech have to change your design without your approval?  Aren't unforseen conditions supposed to be reported to the EOR for resolution?  Aren't you ultimately responsible for the safety of the building?
I had a similar problem with some retaining wall footings ecountering water in the excavation.  Contractor called up the geotech who instructed him to just excavate a little deeper and fill with gravel.  I was the last one to know! 
Also, I just want to make sure I understand you correctly.  Has the state of Texas _not_ adopted a statewide building code?  I not, how did they rationalize that decision?
Tripp Howard, P.E.

Tripp Howard

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