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RE: structures & ethics

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The real issue raised by Steve is not really the serviceability issues such as deflection which he noted in passing as supporting his concerns but rather they were about basic structural safety and his professional responsibilities relating thereto. Deflections can be an indicator of a problem but also can be just the result of the normal naterial behavior of wood.  They are a warning sign, nothing more, nothing less.

I applaud Steve's efforts to methodically and carefully look at the structure and seek second opinions.  Based on some information he sent me off-list, I now don't believe he has a life-safety concern requiring immediate warnings or action involving the Building Official although stresses are about as high as one would want to see in such a structure.  Deflections may be creep related or material related.  As Dennis Wish has pointed out, wood is not a uniform material, but its non-uniformities do not necessarily require major upgrades.

Steve has provided great service to his client in following up on concerns that developed in the course of his investigations and seeking to resolve questions he had. He has recieved good advice from several on the list and I believe will now make the decisions he needs to make based on sound reasons.  He is basically a careful structural engineer keeping his client's and the public's interests in the forefront.

Bill Cain SE
Berkeley CA


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