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RE: [Possible-Spam] Re: [Possible-Spam] Bonnie, Charlie, Frances, and Ivan

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Indeed Rand, when I left my first job I perused some of the installation
crews handiwork and found that they had taken liberties with my designs.
After working on the forensic end for the last couple of years I am
starting to see just how vast the problem is.

Best Regards,
 
Scott
 
Scott C. Bernard, E.I.
Associate Consultant
E-mail : scbernard(--nospam--at)rimkus.com

 



-----Original Message-----
From: Rand Holtham, P.E. [mailto:rand(--nospam--at)sigmaengineers.com] 
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 4:47 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: [Possible-Spam] Re: [Possible-Spam] Bonnie, Charlie, Frances,
and Ivan


The problem is that the codes are NOT being followed. We all design to
the minimum wind speed, the design that the minimum produces is what the
contractors are complaining about. Obviously these folks have been doing
construction that is subminimum.

Rand


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Bernard, Scott C." <SCBernard(--nospam--at)rimkus.com>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 3:10 PM
Subject: RE: [Possible-Spam] Bonnie, Charlie, Frances, and Ivan


I/We do a great deal of work with insurance companies on claims made by
providing assessments for determination of coverage liabilities.  Thus
far the feedback and I am getting through the grapevine from the field
indicates that causation not only lies in poor design, but due to old
code inadequacies and sub-standard construction practices.  Then again,
I guess all it takes is a big enough chunk of debris to hit your
structure in the right spot too.

I started working in design after college here in Florida, and yes, the
argument was always put forth to me down here that the contractors have
been doing things a certain way for ever and a day and that "you
engineers" are only making things more difficult, hence I got used to
defending the building codes.  "Supposedly" everyone learned their
lesson after "Andrew" that begat the South Florida Building Code.
However, it appears that many in the industry have a terrible memory. In
my opinion based upon my experiences, it appears that catch phrases like
"Value Engineering" and "Minimum Design" have run-amuck and truly have
been bastardized to the nth degree.

I guess the battle lines will again likely be drawn between the lobby's
run by the Construction and Insurance industries and perhaps even start
another post-Andrew like renaissance in the industry down here.  The
question is, are our current codes adequate or do they really need
upgrade?  I fear knee-jerk political reaction will only cause increases
in requirements that help some and hurt some.  If our current codes are
adequate, then are we reacting to damages and devastation caused by
older structures that were designed under outdated codes?  Is the
standard of design Hurricane Resistance or Hurricane Proof?

My $0.02...

Best Regards,

Scott

Scott C. Bernard, E.I.
Associate Consultant
E-mail : scbernard(--nospam--at)rimkus.com






-----Original Message-----
From: Jason W. Kilgore [mailto:jkilgore(--nospam--at)leok.com]
Sent: Friday, September 17, 2004 11:20 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: [Possible-Spam] Bonnie, Charlie, Frances, and Ivan


(Warning - this got really long, but I think it's important)

There has been major devastation across Florida and the Gulf Coast, and
I'm sure all of the engineers on this list are hoping for a speedy
recovery, be it in the form of praying, meditating, humming, or just
plain wishing for luck.

Trying to see the silver lining amid all this devastation, I see this as
a chance for the advancement of Structural Engineering.  How many of you
on the Gulf coast have had clients bash you for "over-engineering" (I
believe an earlier client quote was, "but it doesn't get that windy
here!")?  How many of you had clients leave and go to other designers
for the same reason? What about residences that were never looked at by
an SE?

Typically, if engineers try to increase public safety during a "calm"
period they are thwarted by developers and construction companies, their
lobbyists, and their large political donations.  All the engineer can
say is that there MIGHT be a major event sometime in the future, maybe
in 100 years.  When the developer responds with, "This new regulation
will increase the cost of new houses by xx%.  People won't be able to
afford houses.  I won't build in this area anymore", the developer wins.

After a major catastrophe, for a very short period of time, the engineer
has physical evidence.  For a very short period of time, the
powers-that-be can SEE the physical and fiscal impact of a hurricane,
and can see that it greatly outweighs any financial cost to developers
and contractors.  For a very short period of time, the time-honored
argument of "But I've been building this way for xx years with no
problems" WILL NOT WORK.

After this short period, the power will be back on, the debris will be
picked up, houses re-built, and the memory of the catastrophe will fade.
It will be replaced by the day-to-day realities of buying food and
saving for that dream home, which of course should be built as fast and
cheap as possible.


NOW is the chance to do something.

Go around and take pictures of failures.  Try to determine if they were
the result of a poor design or poor construction.  If an entire
subdivision was destroyed, try to determine if all the houses were built
by the same contractor.  Talk to homeowners.

With this evidence, write letters to newspapers (both to reporters and
as "opinion" pieces).  Mention specific houses, with quotes from the now
homeless owner, and say something like "if $x,xxx extra had been spent
on anchors, shear walls, and better inspection, this particular
residence would have survived and this poor person would currently have
a roof".  Try to get the general public interested.

Write letters to insurance companies, but instead of emphasizing the
inconvenience to the homeowner, emphasize the dollar cost.  Try to get
the insurance lobbyists interested.

Write letters to government officials urging adoption of mandatory
inspections SEPARATE FROM THE DESIGN CONTRACT.  Emphasize the loss of
life, loss of taxes, costs of repairs, and costs of emergency services.

Officers of SEAOA, SEAOG, ASCE local branches (city and state) should
write letters to all of the above voicing the "official" position of
their organizations.

Good luck.

---
Jason W. Kilgore, PE, SE
Project Engineer
Leigh & O'Kane, LLC
Kansas City, Missouri
(Mississippi Native)



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