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RE: Peer Reviews & Value Engineering Reviews

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I agree that Peer Reviews and Value Engineering (VE) Reviews are two
different things. My experience with VE review's is that they are often done
at the 30% or 60% stage. While some good recommendations can come out of a
VE review, I think the benefits are often exaggerated. The recommendations
often do not fully consider differences in quality, durability, reliability,
life-cycle cost, etc. Generally the EOR must provide written responses to
the VE recommendations but is not obligated to adopt the recommendations. I
find that only a few of the numerous recommendations made are typically
adopted, after review with the client. 

My employer (a larger firm) does internal peer reviews on large or complex
projects - i.e., experienced engineers who have not been directly involved
in the design perform a technical review, to avoid costly problems. These
are typically done at the 60 to 90% stage. I find these to be very
beneficial. The EOR can still reject some proposed changes if adequate
reasons can be given but all issues must be addressed. 

Our company Quality Assurance (QA) procedures also require that design
calculations be checked. But I've found that this is an area our profession
does not define well, and I have encountered many designs by other
engineering firms that have not been checked and that contain significant
errors. I am very impressed with the design review procedures developed by
the Association of Professional Engineers of British Columbia
( and I would like to see similar provisions adopted in the

William C. Sherman, PE
CDM, Denver, CO
Phone: 303-298-1311
Fax: 303-293-8236
email: shermanwc(--nospam--at)

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Feather [mailto:pfeather(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Thursday, November 06, 2003 11:34 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: Re: Regional permitting differences - calculations
> Peer review and Value Engineering are definitely not the same
> thing in my neck of the woods.  Peer review is an engineering 
> review by an independent entity of equal qualification, 
> reviewing the basic concepts, objectives, and criteria 
> proposed for a project with opinions and input on how well 
> the proposed design is meeting those criteria.  Additionally 
> areas like adequate detailing and drawing information and 
> constructability may be a part of the review.
> Value Engineering may have once meant a similar process where
> the design is reviewed for cost impact and constructability, 
> but anymore in CA this is no longer the case.  VE is the most 
> miss-used term I know.  Typically it amounts to "The design 
> is over budget, where can we slash the costs by reducing 
> finish and material quality, eliminating architectural 
> features, and so-on..."  There is no "engineering" in VE.
> The standard AIA contract scope for engineering services
> includes a VE section after the Construction Document phase.  
> We insist this be removed from all of our contracts and 
> strive to educate our clients on how in-appropriate this is.  
> The worst possible point to begin VE'ing a project is when 
> the design is complete.  Typically this will lead to the 
> engineer spinning their wheels eating up time trying to 
> piece-meal fit contractor substitutions and system changes.  
> Rarely are the substitutions fully thought out regarding the 
> impact on the other trades or the conflicts with all the 
> existing detailing.  This can lead to field conflicts and 
> errors with costly corrections.  As one of my professors in 
> college used to define the issue, it's "conservation of 
> grief".  There are a finite number of problems on a project 
> and all you can do is shift them around to different areas 
> but never truly eliminate them.
> The time to VE a project is during the Design Development
> phase and should be controlled and conducted by the EOR.  
> Only by reviewing the options and alternatives with a global 
> perspective on how the modifications trickle through the 
> entire project can a truly "value-engineered" system be 
> developed.  Insist on adequate design development time in the 
> project schedule and set the design fee accordingly.  Early 
> selected contractor involvement can be invaluable, 
> particularly on large scale projects.  The extra 10k or 20k 
> spent on real engineering can easily translate into 100k or 
> 200k in actual construction cost savings.
> Sorry to be so long winded, I guess I feel strongly about
> this issue. :-)
> Paul Feather PE, SE
> pfeather(--nospam--at)

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