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RE: CFS gage on drawings

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I find this concept that the SEOR is inherently responsibile for some scope
of work interesting and bafeling.  We are responsible for performing those
services we contracted to provide.   

Typically the Architect or Owner decides to make the building skin design
build in order to save up front design fees and or to save money by
allowing the contractor to do things his way.  Along with this savings
there is some additional risk which should accrue to the individual to
decided to go design build.

In this context if the SEOR puts stud gages and similar information on the
drawings he can only lose.  If the gage is too large then the Owner does
not obtain the intended savings.  If the gage is too small then either the
Contractor either comes back for an extra or he may assume that the SEOR
designed part of the system and that he is only responsible for the
un-defined components which could result in an unsafe design.  I have heard
this argument.  

Once the Contractor designs the studs and the SEOR is provided with the
Contractors design he is faced with the option of reviewing the design in
its entirety or just reviewing the interface to those elements he designed.
 If the SEOR decides to review the Contractor's design then he shares some
liability for the design even though his fee was reduced because the skin
was removed from his scope of work.  A limitation of liability agreement
similar to what is obtained with a peer review would help control the
liability but there is still the need to be paid for the time spent.  If as
a result of the review you require changes be made you run the risk of
creating a claim situation, unless the changes are clearly necessary to
insure compliance with the building code.  In many instances the Owner will
not be appreciative of these contractor claims.

If you just check the connection to the primary structure and there is a
problem then you can point to your contract.  You may have to spend some
time dealing with the problems but you may be able to bill the Owner or the
Architect for this additional time.

It comes down to the question are you better off by preventing the problem
or by providing a legal shield.  One of the problems with checking the
Contractors design when this is not required by your contract is that you
have gone beyond your scope of work and thus it may be easier for others to
claim that your scope of work is broader than stated in your contract.

The viable strategies include:
--The SEOR designs all of the building skin and is paid for it.
--The Contractor designs the building skin.  The SEOR reviews the
Contractors design and obtains a limitation of liability for this review. 
I am not aware of this being done.
--The Contractor designs the building skin and the SEOR only reviews it for
loads on the primary structure.
--The SEOR states in his scope of work that he will review this submittal
and then he does so.  This implies that he will accept a lesser profit
margin which may mean that this strategy is not very viable.

If the SEOR limits his review to the loads imposed on the primary structure
he should make this very clear when he returns the submittal to the
Architect.  The worse that you can do is to have others assume that you did
something that you did not do.  If they do not like your disclaimer is is
cheaper to sort it out now than later after there is a problem.

Make it clear in the contract doduments  what you are designing and what
you expect the Contractor to design.  Do not count on the Contractor's
engineer checking your design.  If you need a design check, then arrange
for it seperately.

The important point is that, if the Owner or the Architect decide to accept
some risk by having the Contractor design the building skin  it is not the
SEOR's responsibility to take on that risk.  The SEOR can advise the
Architect on strategies to minimize the risk but ultimately the SEOR should
not be responsible if there are problems.  Towards this end the SEOR needs
to have a clear strategy to protect himself when things go wrong.  If you
are not comfortable with the way your client wants to work then change

Mark Gilligan

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