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RE: Plan Check

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Title: Plan Check


I agree with Gerard in total. I never would think to charge for a plan check correction – especially where I was in error not to include the item on my drawings or in my calculations. As far as multiple plan checks where new items are added, I don’t believe the owner needs to pay for what the plan reviewer should have included originally. Having done plan review, the company that I do part time work for has a standard note at the end of the review that clearly states new items may be included in subsequent plan checks. When I questioned this, it was intended for those who submit plans that are knowingly not complete in order to get them into the building department and collect another fee from the client. Still, this is a case where the plan reviewer provided a “generic” plan review sheet to indicate what they would be looking for so as not to charge the city for whom they are employed unnecessarily for multiple plan checks. In this case - the engineer places the plan reviewer in the middle where he or she does not belong.


Without boasting, I can say that I have had less than a dozen plan reviews that went past the first correction list. In only two or three cases did I feel that the plan reviewer was unreasonable and in these cases, I wrote letters addressing each correction and indicating my rationale in the design? If I disagreed with the plan reviewer, I said so and backed it up with code references that justified my point. In one case the reviewer’s solution to the problem was equal to mine but detailed differently. He was right and so was I. In this case, it was my judgment that prevailed. In another case, the plan reviewer was incorrect (with regards to seismic retrofit of a residential URM building). He required a secondary lateral system should be brick fail. However, this was a residential structure and not required to be retrofit according to California code. The owner, however, provided a secondary support for the roof through the use of furred walls for new plumbing and electrical, but this did not need to be designed as a lateral system – only intended to hold the roof up long enough to get people safely out. As a voluntary retrofit – the plan reviewer was not correct. This points to his lack of knowledge related to retrofit design which has not been done in this county or done rarely. He conceded the points.


Your solution serves the client and shows your capacity to do what is really needed – help the client to resolve a conflict in the easiest manner possible. You did not design the change – although there have been times when we suggest other options that they can raise with their consultant. In the case you mentioned, I believe the Architect was wrong and if the work was inadequate for plan review submittal, I might have sent it off to the state licensing board with a note of my own to allow them to review the plans and the failure to comply with plan check corrections and to let them determine if disciplinary actions need to be taken against the Architect (or engineer).


I think it is our responsibility to first resolve the conflict. If we are the designers, then I believe we need to take responsibility for our work and make it right. If we notice that others are overstepping their capabilities, then we need to protect the public by bringing this to the attention of the licensing board. However, I would say this is a last resort. I had an engineer in another state review a set of drawings that I did and he told the client to scrap them as there were too many mistakes and he it would need to be redesigned. I disagreed (and so did the plan reviewer). The other engineer could have reported me to BPELS but I believe strongly that he did not understand how the custom home had been designed – he could not follow the analysis or design rationale. I reviewed my plans and although I could have added some details, I knew the design was valid and that the contractor and framer, whom I’ve worked with many times, was clear as to how the shear was transferred from roof to foundation.


I have been making site visits to assure myself that the home is being constructed as I’ve designed it. I may anticipate instructing the framer to add a strap or two, but I don’t believe that this will be necessary. What bothers me as a designer is being pushed to complete a set of plans when I am not confident that I have covered all the details that are most important. When I tell the client this, I generally get criticism of the delays as the client only wants his permit and I only want to design and have it constructed it properly. Sometimes, you can’t win for losing!




-----Original Message-----
From: Schwan, Martin K. [mailto:SchwanMK(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 6:33 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: Plan Check


No stamped drawings were involved and no changes were made to any designs.  Yes you are correct I should not have made any comment about the fees.  Truth be told this happened so many times that I finally said something I shouldn’t have…one would think that intelligent people would know not to pay in full until all services are rendered (and that a certain plan reviewer should just smile and sympathize and help as needed).  Understood the rest too…


-----Original Message-----
From: Shapton & Partners [mailto:shapton(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:23 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Plan Check


In my opinion, a plan reviewer does not have authority to change stamped drawings.  Nor should a plan reviewer make comments on the fee arrangements.  If I was the architect  ( I am structural engineer) I would contact the building official and, number one, explain my first statement to both he/she and you.  Number two, there is a matter of lost fees that needs to be discussed.  Additionally, suggesting that 1/2 the fee be retained............


 ----- Original Message -----

Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2003 5:48 PM

Subject: Plan Check


So what I gather so far is the people who subscribe to this list are dedicated professionals…I agree

Can someone please tell me how to help the owner/builder who pays a design professional for a set of drawings and calculations then cannot get any help to address their review comments???  If I help them (remember I am the plan reviewer) or direct them to the proper solution (and my goal is to help them get their permit) am I liable for any future failures?  This came up this week…the client called to ask for help on my review comments because the architect wanted to charge her $200/hour to address 12 review comments.  I asked her if she paid the designer in full…yes she did.  I asked her for what did they agree upon…drawings and calculations she said.  I told her it is between her and the designer and I cannot get caught in the middle. But I suggested to her (and to several people) pay half and the other half upon receipt of permit.  Then I told her to come in and we can work out some of the comments.  We worked out all but 4 and perhaps it’ll take less then an hour for the architect to complete.  Do you think this is fair?  Do you think I overstepped my authority?  I believe in fair compensation to the designer but wouldn’t you think the fee should include answering review comments?  And exclude change orders, field changes, and extras after the permit is issued.  Just wondering where to draw the line…Martin