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RE: Plan Check Corrections - Engineers responsibility

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No, I was just contemplating the choices that the Architect has to compel the engineer to finish the job. Others brought up a good issue as to the extent of the engineering. Personally, I can't conceive that an engineer would not include plan check corrections in his/her contract. Furthermore - I believe that the corrections are an engineers ethical obligation - even if the Architect chooses a proprietary system that requires connections to the structure. We don't design roof trusses, but we do design the connection to assure that a load path is maintained. I see no difference in the later requirement by the building department representative (contract plan check)  to require structural calculations for the connection of the railing to the edge of the balcony and the "engineers" responsibility to make this work, even if it costs him excessive time above what he charged. This is the gamble we make.
To push the point, I designed a home two years ago and for all practical purposes, the job died in January of 2002. I completed the contract I was hired for but the permit was not issued. Reasonably, I considered the project after six months to be abandoned. I did not have an abandonment clause in my contract and as it would be, the developer sold the lot to another family who wanted to use the design I worked on. They took the plans I gave them (and calculations) in March of 2002 and submitted them for plan check in April of 2003. They did not notify me until they received the plan check corrections. The client came to me with the correction list and informed me that the new owner wanted changes in the design - which I would charge them according to my contract. However, time was the most important issue and I convinced them to leave many of the original elements and change the architectural roof line (manufactured trusses) after the corrections were made and a permit issued. The loads would not change (lateral or gravity) and only the details needed to be revised to accommodate the new truss shape (a barrel roof instead of a Gable at the entry).
They pushed, I got mad because I was late on other work and needed to accommodate the present clients first. This was unacceptable to them and I gave them the option to seek another engineer. They did - an engineer in Utah. The engineer misinterpreted the analysis done with the Keymark program and informed the builder that he would have to redesign the entire home. This "critique" angered me even more as this engineer and I had a difference of opinion for a couple of high load shearwalls diaphragm shear transfers.
 
As it turned out, I invited the builder into my home/office and we laid the plans on the table and attempted to calm the war that was rising. I've worked with them many times and our relationship in the past had been good. Within minutes I saw ways to accommodate changes they wanted to make with notes on the plans. If there were problems to be handled, I could do it when they were in the framing stage of the home as the issues were related to the roof truss connections and some drag struts. I've always visited the job site when needed and resolved any conflict. This mended the relationship without jeopardizing time constraints for my current clients.
Granted, the stress is high in these situations, but I believe in working out problems - in this case I was fulfilling my obligation based on the original contract. I could have argued for an abandoned project and that I had no responsibility, but if they choose to hire another engineer then I might find myself in a legal hassle if his professional opinions don't match mine and the developer decides to take action. Instead we are building a good home and have mended a long term relationship.
 
I think diplomacy and ethics is what governs good engineering practice. Ethically, I owed them some money from the contract even though they abandoned the project and I choose to complete the plan check requirements so they could obtain a permit. From there I am free to charge for any additional work they want and they have agreed with this. Their only complaint had been the need to break ground and get the home under construction. Changes can be done in the field around the builders schedule that is also convenient for me. Now my ethical responsibility is complete.
 
Dennis
-----Original Message-----
From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)shaw.ca]
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2003 11:41 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Plan Check Corrections - Engineers responsibility

Dennis,

        Sorry, Dennis, I seem to have reached the understanding that you were contemplating becoming involved in a formal complaint against the other engineer.  My ambiguous writing was intended to suggest that you not get involved in a formal complaint because of the mess these formal complaints always produce.  By all means do the work if you're satisfied that you won't be caught in the middle of a formal complaint.

Regards,

Daryl

Dennis Wish wrote:

 Daryl,Inasmuch as I am leaving on a 3-week vacation on Monday (driving back to Chicago for a wedding and family reunion) I most likely will not get involved. I think the Architect can and should resolve his contractual agreements with the engineer on his own. The problem is getting him to read between the lines as I have known him for 13-years and he has chosen to use the other engineer (without any complaint from me due to my location from most of his construction sites). I like him but don't want to read him the riot act which will ultimately leave him out in the cold. If he needs some help, I told him I will help him as long as he takes responsibility for the calculations I provide and any details under his stamp. This relinquishes me of liability and allows him to bypass the engineer by taking responsibility on his own.Thanks again,Dennis
-----Original Message-----
From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)shaw.ca]
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2003 8:41 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Plan Check Corrections - Engineers responsibility
 
Dennis,

        Having attended a few formal hearings following complaints against other engineers, I would suggest that you AVOID  any involvement in this process if it's reasonable to do so unless you think the fellow is dishonest, incompetent, or negligent regarding public safety.  I have three reasons for this position:

1.)  It will take a lot of time.  Several times more than it will take for you to do the actual work!!

2.)  If the complaint goes as far as a formal hearing you will come under a lot of stress from lawyers during cross examination.  The procedures are somewhat different than you see on TV but the attacks and the pressure aren't much different.

3.)  You won't get any reimbursement for your time and effort.

        I would suggest that you call the other engineer up, tell him (or her) you have been asked to do this, and ask him if there is any reason why you should not do the work.  At this point I would decide whether to do the work or not and I would follow the discussion with a written confirmation and informing him (or her) of your decision to do or not to do the work.

        Good luck with whatever you decide.

Regards,

H. Daryl Richardson

Dennis Wish wrote:

An architect I have known for over ten years contacted me a few days ago to help him solve a problem on a custom home that he designed. The engineer that he used has worked with him for over 15 years. The home uses Trus-Joist TJI floor joists that cantilever out to form the balcony at the second floor. He has attached a rim joist and showed the detail for the sheathing and finish on his plan. The plan check agency wants a detail to show how the manufactured glass railing is attached to the end of the balcony. The Architect showed a conventional lumber balcony framing and at the end a 4x rim joist. The mullion for the railing was shown to be bolted down through the center of the beam at some uniform spacing. The connection is a threaded rod with a plate washer and nut that is recessed into the rim beam. The balcony framing (whether TJI or 2x) is cantilevered out from the floor framing. The framing is covered with plywood nailed to the top of the rim beam and joists. The sheathing is topped with lightweight concrete. The plan checker asked to show that the beam won't fail when a 200 pound lateral load is applied at the railing 42" above the deck.I reviewed his problem and gave him my opinions;1. There needs to be a step down (1 or 1-1/2 inch) from the 2nd floor level to the balcony to prevent water from flowing back into the house if there is no slope to the balcony joists (the TJI's are not sloped). This does not seem to be an issue in the TJI catalogs as it was a few years ago when they had step down joists or cantilevers designed by extending Microlam's; sawn lumber or Timberstrand joists extended in the web of the TJI's.2. I believe that the sheathing nailed to the top of the beam will prevent rotation in the rim beam, but I see that if you pull on the railing there would be a possibility that the connection of the beam to the end of the joists might fail in pull-out strength of the connection.3. I suggested he recommend to his engineer that a Simpson LTT strap be used where the failure is likely to occur. For safety reasons, I would use on one each joist alternating between top and bottom so that the rim-beam is tied back to the joists at top and bottom (where the couple is likely to occur).His engineer is refusing to deal with this issue and the architect asked if I would intervene. If this were conventional construction, I believe I could take care of the non-compliant portions of the home, but in this case there is an Engineer in Responsible Charge who is, in my opinion, required to complete the plan check requirements. Can the architect contact BORPELS to file a complaint against the EOR if a permit can not be pulled until the corrections are complete? Can the architect hire another engineer to supply the calculations needed and have the architect wet-stamp the details and calculations provided to him?I don't think this is such a difficult problem and don't understand why the engineer of record will not complete the design. I've reviewed his drawings and details and other than the coordination between the architect, who shows conventional sawn lumber, and the EOR who specifies TJI's, the drawings are light on details, but adequate compared to what I have seen out here. Your opinions would be appreciated.TIADennis S. Wish, PECaught in the Middle