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Re: WOOD: Field Splicing

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Jnapd(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote:

When I investigated some apartments and houses in the LA area after the Northridge I saw this condition. The worst condition was in hip beams on a hip roof some 15-22' long 2x8 & members with a 4' long diagonal splice.. near the center of the span, of course. Most structures were built before 1960s. A couple even had damage from the Long Beach earthquake that had not been repaired. Joe Venuti
Johnson & Nielsen Associates
Palm Springs, CA

The problem I'm having with this guy--and he's a friend, he's a really good guy but he sees things like a builder, NOT like an engineer--is his attitude. He is only just now getting into using an engineer (since he's got inspectors breathing down his neck) and he's faced with competing with big homebuilders who can pay for engineering at a "volume discount."

These are his arguments:

"Well, the code is whatever the inspector says is okay."

"Don't overengineer--and my definition of that is don't do anything more than I have seen done, because I haven't had a house fall down yet."

Builders don't think like engineers. We look at the extreme loading events that are reflected in the building code; they look at what they have experienced in the "real world." Of course, when a "big event" actually happens, everyone gets an education, but human beings tend to learn only from their OWN experiences--and mistakes--not the experiences of others.

So when this guy says "this is how I do it and it works," what he means is "someone taught me to do this, I've never had any problem with it and I've never had an inspector object to it." To him, that's reality. And I've learned that even building code provisions--even PRESCRIPTIVE building code provisions--don't make nearly the impression on these guys as a red-tag from an inspector and a delay in the job.

If inspectors let 'em do it, they'll do it.

As a footnote I should add that he has a lot more respect for the inspector, who in this neck o' the woods is usually just a third-party engaged by the owner or even by the developer. This is the guy who can give him grief or make his life easy. An engineer is just a "pie in the sky" intellectual with no real-world experience who exists just to make his life difficult by continuing to "overengineer" everything. Inspectors tend to be pretty much "idiots," and I'm being charitable. If they get training at all, they promptly forget it. I have never seen an inspector save one who knew anything at all about the code; they typically look around and compare with what they are used to seeing.

None of these people keep up with changes in the code. When I point out what the Code says, my builder friend just shrugs and says "the inspector will let me keep doing what I want to do" and he's right. There's no one to complain to.

In our area the only recourse is to educate the consumer, the home-owner or potential home-owner, and they have to understand that they will be threatened with paying more, etc.

My builder friend made a very good observation in our meeting by the way. He said "sure, it's all well and good to say that the buyer has to be 'protected' but in almost every case, the buyer is going to go with the lowest price. They will do that, then they'll complain later when things aren't done the way they ought to be.

His complaint there is exactly our complaint when we see our clients "price shopping."

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