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Re: STEEL: Q - What is the proper procedure for submitting/approving an alternate design?

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I had a similar case this week.  We had designed a three sided concrete retaining wall with a guard rail on top that was at the end of a nature walk and formed a lookout point.  The construction contractor told the client he could save them $7000 if he made it out of masonry block and gave us a submittal for the block, grout, and mortar.  No drawings and no mention of rebar.  Due to the guard rail on top and some other issues the original concrete wall was 12 inches thick with rebar each way on each face.  I stamped the submittal "C" (i.e. not approved/do not construct) and gave them two options: 1) Provide detailed drawings and a set of stamped calculations for my review, or 2)  Provide me with a change order for $1500 and I would provide two sets of stamped calculations/sketches suitable for agency submittal.  The architect did not particularly want to change the design either so he add a few grand for his efforts and the $7,000 savings soon disappeared.

Thomas Hunt, S.E.
ABS Consulting

Bill Polhemus <bill(--nospam--at)>

11/16/2004 06:39 AM

Please respond to

STEEL: Q - What is the proper procedure for submitting/approving an alternate design?

Hello, all.

I have a job where the contractor is submitting though his
fabricator/detailer an alternate design to that which I submitted for

In general, I have no problem with this, as long as it meets the design
requirements. In fact, I sort of enjoy the opportunity to "learn" from a
fabricator and erector. More'n one way to skin a cat, as we say in these

However, when the submittal arrived, it was in the form of ONLY shop
drawings, no calculations, not even an engineer's seal or "disclaimer"
attached. Since I'm the EOR, I guess that much is a "gray area," but my
response to them was "guys, I don't have anything to approve. Please
send me calculations, etc., so that I can review it for conformance to
the design requirements."

Their response has been puzzlement. I think that THEY think "h*ll,
you're an engineer, you oughta know if it's okay or not!" It's almost as
if they're pulling something out of their design standards and then
asking me to verify the design adequacy. Since they're not my client,
and since my client has already paid me ONCE for the steel design, I
don't see why I should oblige them.

What I need to know is, what is the proper procedure here? I have
lookeed through the AISC Code of Standard Practice, but I cannot find
anything that covers this. I have also looked on AISC's website to no
avail. I would contact their support hotline, but I'm not a member of
AISC and I figure I could better get a cross-section of real-world
opinions here.


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