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RE: Plan Check Corrections - Engineers responsibility[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: "'seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org'" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: RE: Plan Check Corrections - Engineers responsibility
- From: "Schwan, Martin K." <SchwanMK(--nospam--at)ci.anchorage.ak.us>
- Date: Fri, 29 Aug 2003 13:27:11 -0800
Dennis, I wish more engineers (and people in general) would take this approach to solving problems. I find myself in the middle of these situations more than I need be. I want to help them get their permit but I cannot disregard what is the engineer's responsibility and liability. Oftentimes the owner cannot get the engineer (or designer) to respond to the review comments because their contract did not address responsibilities after drawings and calculations are completed and submitted for review (and they were paid presumably). The contract should be clear as to scale and scope of work. How many drawings are submitted without review comments? Very few are. Experience should tell you to include a clause in the contract about what are your obligations to the client after the drawings and calculations are submitted, timeline for submittal and how they will be charged for field changes etc. after the permit is issued. This is very important especially when dealing with inexperienced home builders. It is curious how many builders think the engineer's responsibilities are not completed until there is a certificate of occupancy. I believe the engineer should be responsible for review comments but they should also be paid for their time. We changed codes this year and after the assembly adopted them we gave 6 months for engineers and designers to prepare and comply with the new codes. After we started enforcing the IBC/IRC people still tried to submit to the old code because their engineer/designer did the calculations to the old code and now wants to charge more money to do them to the new code. And they are justified in doing so. There are two sides to the issue; both parties need to recognize what are their responsibilities. Put it in writing. When there are problems work it out and move on to the next project...enough rant. Have a great trip, say hi to the Midwest for me go White Socks but in week two of the NFL I hope the Vikes kick the Bears ass...ok so I'm a die hard Viking fan.
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.
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