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Re: Plan Check (was Re: Rigid Wood Diaphragm?)

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Ben/Paul
I being a plan review engineer hear in Florida not in a seismic area but I do have a good
experience in  the seismic design. I gathered numerous published research and design guides which
gives me a comfort level in my review (I DON'T make any comments which have no engineering
concerns). Hear I don't review high high-rise buildings like L.A. ,S.F, S.D, Chicago, N.Y. etc. but
the concept would be the same. Many comments outlined in this server have  valid concerns, i.e
comments should be based on the structural integrity not like 10.75' versus 10.83' .
Himat

>>> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net 10/15/2003 8:51:04 PM >>>
Ben,

I should clarify some of my comments to be sure the tone was not
mis-understood.

I agree with you.  I don't have a problem with plan check or peer review or
as many sets of competent eyes as wish to review the work.  We are all
human.  But competent eyes is the key expression.

I consider plan check a formality because I don't intend for plan check to
catch my mistakes, there are not supposed to be any :-).
One of the key thrusts of my earlier posting was the fact that , apart from
the usual complaining about the ridiculous, it is NOT necessarily the plan
check process that is broken.  I do see plan check as a vital part of
protecting our community, which is why I am upset that something clearly
deficient with multiple discrepancies and contradictions was approved
without comment.

I pray that if there was some blatant error on my project someone would see
it and comment.  I believe that with Le Messurier a graduate student caught
the mistake long after the project was completed and approved.  The Hyatt
disaster was attributable to a change on the shop drawings, not the design
drawings.  Plan Check did not catch either one of these mistakes, and I am
not saying it should have.

As I stated before, is it the plan review process where we need to expend
our energy to try and
improve the system, or the requirements (and enforcement) to be qualified as
a PE?

Is it realistic to expect a plan reviewer to catch anything but the most
obvious of mistakes?  I do not think so.  Other than the larger
jurisdictions with the capital to employ competent engineering staff, I
think the plan review process falls short of the goal.   Unfortunately, so
does much of the engineering they are responsible to review. How can someone
be expected to competently review a complex submittal in the short time
available, especially coming to a project fresh without intimate knowledge?
The fact is it is the PE and their internal review and control procedures
where errors have the best chance of being caught and corrected.

I am approaching this strictly from the "I have been thinking about it,
there is a problem, let's put our egos aside and have a frank and open
discussion" point of view.

In all seriousness, we get a majority of our new work through contractor
referrals.  When the information that is needed to build the project is on
the drawings, correctly, the first time, we have better projects, less RFI
issues and everyone is happy.  Estimates are real, the project finances,
schedule, everything runs smoother. As a professional it is my job to take
an active role in the success of the whole project, including construction.
We are not perfect, nobody is; but we try to hold ourselves to a
professional level.  I guess part of my frustration is seeing how widely
that profession level varies in our industry.

I am open to further discussion of where the problems are and how we can
best take steps to correct them.  I would be interested in hearing from
Canadian engineers regarding their approval process.  Don't you have
mandatory peer review in Canada?



Paul Feather PE, SE
pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net 
www.SE-Solutions.net 
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ben Yousefi" <Ben-Yousefi(--nospam--at)ci.santa-monica.ca.us>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Sent: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 4:47 PM
Subject: Plan Check (was Re: Rigid Wood Diaphragm?)


> I feel compelled to respond to this, although this subject has raised its
ugly head many times before!
>
> The merits of plan check process, simply put, is having another set of
eyes review the construction documents to ensure important aspects of design
meet the intent of the code. It's not an issue of who is ultimately
responsible, or whether the design professional is competent or not. Even
the most competent structural engineers, or their associates in the office,
make mistakes that could possibly have major ramifications. We are all
humans, afer all.
>
> One of the best examples of this is the case of William LeMessurier, whose
story has been chronicled in several media articles including the New
Yorker. In his case, he discovered that he had miscalculated the size of
braces required for a 52 story building that was already built and occupied.
Had another set of eyes looked at the design, it could possibly have been
caught at the construction document stage. The same goes for the Hyatt
Regency balcony collapse, etc.
>
> Going through the sometimes uncomfortable process of plan review
(especially with some plan checkers) could be a real pain. However, that is
small price to pay in protecting the life and limb of the public at large. I
personally would welcome any constructive feedback on the approach and
details of any problems that I try to solve. And, I wish we could all put
our egos and cynicism aside and work for what's best for the community.
>
> Ben Yousefi, SE
> Santa Monica, CA
>
> >>> pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net 10/13/03 08:56AM >>>
> I apologize in advance for the long rant.
>
>
> This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit lately.  I have
> always considered plan check as a simple formality.  I would never dream
of
> actually believing that the plan review process was a check of my design.
>
> Two recent cases in point out of many:
>
> 1.    Plan review comments regarding anchorage of masonry walls to the
> plywood diaphragm.  There wasn't any masonry on the job.
>
> 2.    My own barn, where I am the client and the engineering was provided
by
> the companies engineer.  In my review there were multiple discrepancies,
> calc's that were not reflected in the drawings, improper diaphragms, no
> seismic checks, and then the system was over yield if an analysis was
> performed.  The only comments from the plan review?  The decorative
railing
> that merely separated two areas of equal grade needed the picket spacing
to
> be 4" max per chapter 10 of the UBC; a code provision that does not even
> apply to the condition.  Nothing was noted regarding all the other issues.
>
>
> The problem with this is that both reviewers were licensed PE's.  Is it
the
> plan review process that is broken or are the requirements to practice as
a
> PE so lax that the title is meaningless?  Given a simple project with
maybe
> 2 or 3 areas that really should be reviewed, I would be willing to bet
that
> they will not be if the areas are not listed in the preprinted check list.
>
> Is it the plan review process where we need to expend our energy to try
and
> improve the system, or the requirements (and enforcement) to be qualified
as
> a PE?  Is the PE who performs a completely inadequate review at fault (the
> governing agency takes no liability) or the PE who produces inferior work
> either from ignorance or under the guise that there are inadequate fees
> involved to perform a proper job (this was actually stated to me on my
> barn).  If I had been a non-engineer, I would have been provided with a
> non-code compliant engineered and approved structure, and let's face it,
the
> requirements for an agricultural building are not hard to meet.
Blessfully,
> when the barn manufacturer became aware of the issues, they made all the
> modifications necessary without question and were actually pleased to have
> the issues pointed out to them.  They wanted to provide a quality product,
> which is why they hired an independent PE to provide their designs.
>
> This is not isolated to my barn experience.  PE's who issue inferior work
> and who charge inadequate fees bring down the integrity of our entire
> profession.  How many times have you not been awarded a project, and then
> been shocked by the fee the project actually paid to your competitor?  How
> can they provide proper service for so little you ask?  They can't, and
> won't.
>
> The weight of the responsibility cannot rest on the governing authority to
> perform detailed structural review.  Many smaller jurisdictions cannot
> afford to hire competent engineering staff to review the work of someone
who
> is supposed to be a PROFESSIONAL.  How many times have you felt like plan
> check response was an unpaid educational seminar? Nor is there adequate
time
> for a plan reviewer to really check a project that may have taken months
to
> design.  In my mind the plan reviewer is supposed to be looking only for
the
> blatant non-compliance issues, especially in the non-structural realm,
> expecting more is un-realistic.  The weight of responsibility to provide
> adequate design is the engineer's.
>
> How this is accomplished and enforced I do not know.  Is it stronger
> licensing laws and requirements?  Mandatory continuing education? More
> aggressive self-policing of our industry, with more than a slap on the
wrist
> for egregious violations of what should be our ethical conduct?
>
> As I said, I don't know, but I am thinking about it.
>
>
> Paul Feather PE SE
>
>
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