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

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In my area of the country, EORs do very little steel detailing, leaving most of the typical connection designs to the fabricator. A certain amount of engineering has been done by the fabricator or his contractors and, as a result, the shop drawings must bear a proper seal. No exceptions.

For changes to design information or details which were specified in the documents, this, imho, is a change order for the convenience of the contractor. It is the responsibility of the contractor to prove that the change is necessary and/or will provide benefit to the owner. Since the design has not been performed by the EOR and affects his/her calculations, part of the cost-benefit analysis must include the additional cost in updating the analysis.

In cases where the change has not been to correct or improve on the drawings (usu. just an unforseen fabrication or erectablility issue) I've approached in the following way: "I have provided a building design, including an overall system analysis. The design has made certain assumptions of performance which are shown on the record drawings. You will need to provide me calculations showing that the local effects of the change meet my notes and/or specifications. I will have to re-run my analysis in order to verify that your solution does not adversely affect the overall structural integrity of the system. For example, if you offer a more flexible element than I had used, it will be less stessed under loading conditions, but the surrounding elements will have to "take up the slack" and may end up overloaded as a result. Based on your drawings, the reanalysis fee will be approximately $X. If further design changes need to be made to accommodate your change, I can provide a fixed cost after the analysis is complete. Is the change worth the additional engineering, and possible additional changes to the structure?"

I've had one client take me up on the additional services, and the net change (I don't do many really high-tonnage projects) was that the owner paid slightly more, though it was a small enough fraction that the time delay was more frustrating than the dollars. The contractor took the flack from the owner for "chasing his tail."

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