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RE: Plan review?

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We have similar problems here in Wisconsin. We do not currently have peer reviews, but the State does require plan reviews for commercial grade buildings. Single family residences fall under the prescriptive methods of local codes.
Wisconsin has recently instituted submittal of "State Worksheets" to try to force those, who are producing substandard designs, to submit complete info. on  load paths, collectors, drag struts, diaphragms, shear walls, holdowns, etc. Much of this info. and necessary design details were ignored by many small time Architects, who did their own structural design. They now realize that they cannot get their buildings approved by the State, if they don't look at all the issues.
Most of the design abuse was on one story wood frame structures. The Architects, who now cannot do all the structural design that is required, are going to Structural Engineers to get it done. However, they do not want to give up any more of their fee for a more complete structural design.
Unfortunately, we still get alot of Owners, Contractors and Architects saying that the we have never built one story wood frame structures this way before and that it is substantially over-designed. We just say that it is now required by the new building code and if they want to change it, they could possibly try to submit a request for variance, but it is unlikely that it would be approved. I try not to engage them in an argument as to whether previous projects were built correctly or are substandard.
The next issue is getting compensated fairly for the work and liability that we take on.This is a tough problem, but uniform enforcement by the plan examiners is a good first step. Continued education of Architects, Engineers and Plan Examiners will also be helpful. We must al;so stand our ground on the required fees.
I am hopeful that the situation will continue to improve as Owners, Contractors and Architects get used to seeing fully thought out structural designs.
Jim K.

[Kestner, Jim]  Original Message-----
From: Tripp Howard [mailto:tripphoward(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2003 9:41 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Plan review?

I know exactly what you mean Andrew.  Same thing happens here in southest Georgia.  I really don't think anyone even looks at the structural drawings around here. 
Seems like the only way us structural engineers are gonna start getting compensated fairly is to have competent people doing good plan reviews so that everyone is held to the same high standards of code compliance.  Otherwise, people can keep on putting out the same substandard designs for half the price of what other more thorough and conscientious engineers would charge.  No one knows the difference until something falls down and they hire the guy who was too expensive to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.
Tripp Howard, P.E.

Andrew Kester <akester(--nospam--at)> wrote:
So guys, for the benefit of us engineers here in the dirty south, especially Florida, what is this thing you guys keep talking about- plan review? Peer review? Someone ACTUALLY LOOKS at your drawings besides your coworkers? WHOA!!! Next thing you know, you will be telling me there are guys that go and "inspect" the structure being built.

No system is perfect, and certainly yours can be improved, but take it with a grain of salt. The only engineers around here going through hassles like that are ones that design parking lots and retention ponds. As long as you plant back X number of trees and make your retention pond big enough, the building could be on the verge of collaps and nobody would be the wiser.....

(slight sarcasm off)

Andrew Kester, EI
Longwood, FL

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Tripp Howard

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