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RE: Plan Check vs Peer Review

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The building official (with the support of the city council) can adopt code methodologies that have higher than minimum standard. This is done all the time as long as the city adopts the changes. The problem – especially with the reference to conventional construction – is political. Again, the fact that codes are the tool of a business can snare a city if the growth of construction in that city is such that revenue can be lost if projects move to another community that is less restrictive. In the case of Conventional Construction, the lobby that supports it is the Building Industry Association and all of those who do work that is published and presented by the National Association of Home Builders and their Research Center. This is one very strong lobby and one, I believe, that engineers have decided is too strong to fight (unless CUREE can show that Conventional Construction will result in much greater damage than the Insurance Industry is willing to come back into California and sell policies for).

A developer who is large enough to build homes that result in significant school, sewer, infrastructure, water and fees needed by the growth of a city  – not to mention the small charge for plan check review and permit issuance – will easily sway a city council to vote against the building official and put down any initiative to allow a more stringent code.

It’s all politics, I’m afraid.



Dennis S. Wish, PE


-----Original Message-----
From: Suresh Acharya [mailto:struct(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 9:37 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Plan Check vs Peer Review


Ben Yousefi wrote:

You are correct Charles, may be I defined plan check in too broad a term. However, As long as the comments add value to the design and are not "nitpicky" whether you call it peer review or plan check doesn't matter. Most projects do not get peer review and plan check is the only option to provide some checks and balances for the designer.

There is a difference between  "plan checking" (by a juridiction) and "peer review" (by any peer).  City/County plan checker is mainly supposed to check whether the plan conforms to the MIMINUM requirements of the Code. For example, if a designer chooses the conventional construction provisons of Chapter 2320 to designs a  regular 3-story residential building (without any calculations), the plan checker will have to accept it as long as the plan complies with the provisions.

Suresh Acharya, S.E.

chamilto(--nospam--at) 10/15/03 05:19PM >>>
Ben -
I got the impression that the displeasure with plan check was
at the occasionally (often?) slap-dash job done by the plan
checker, a la Paul's description of the masonray to diaphragm
anchorage with no masonry present in the design.  I have also,
however, heard people complain about being required to indicate
load paths on their drawings.  I'm not entirely clear on why
this is a problem, although it seems to me that the plan check
engineer ought to be able to figure this out either from detailing
or just reading the plans.
What I have heard called "peer review" sounds more like what
you are describing, Ben.  Few people seem to have problems with
peer review, but somehow plan check gets a bad rap.  Perhaps
the issue is something that we could better address through
specialized training of plan check engineers.  Is any such
required beyond that for a typical PE?  Perhaps a more
standardized method for indicating features on drawings?
Am I wrong about my asserted definitions of peer review and
plan check?