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Re: 3000 psi concrete and special inspection

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Dennis,

To a large degree ACI does this already.  Their publication that contains
ALL the ACI technical documents is the Manual of Concrete Practice (MCP).
It is a five (might be six now) volume set of books that contains ALL the
current ACI techinical documents.  It costs hundreds of dollars to
purchase.  And I doubt very many people on this list have purchased a
copy.

And for the record, there is nothing that says you MUST purchase ACI 318.
I would say that if you are practicing structural engineering in a
jurisdiction that uses the IBC (or BOCA or SBC) as the code _AND_ you do
active concrete design, then I would say you are likely somewhat foolish
to not purchase it or at least have access to a copy (through a library,
local jurisdication code enforcement office, etc).

To look at it another way, if there is a house that I like that has most
of the features that I like and will use, but still has somethings that I
may not use or don't want, does that mean that I can realistically pay
less than the what the owner wants for that house just because I don't
want or won't use say the swimming pool?  What if I go into a car dealer
and the cars on the lot only have A/C in them but I don't want A/C...do
you expect the dealer to charge you less because you won't use the A/C?

Why would you expect something different on something like the ACI code?
Sure there are lots of things in the ACI 318 code that I don't use, but
there are things that I do use.  I don't expect ACI to be willing to
charge me less just because I only use maybe 50% of the code on a regular
basis.  They own the rights to the document.  They get to decide what goes
in it and what they will/need to charge for it.  You get to decide if you
really need it and thus if you are willing to pay for it.

Contrary to popular belief, organizations like ACI are still a business
(granted a non-for-profit business).  They are NOT a pure altruistic
entity that is there to give you whatever you want whenever your want.
They produce an item that in need.  They charge for that item to recover
their costs to produce that item.  They may even charge a little more on
some items that a "big sellers" in order to subsidize those items that are
still needed but cannot make enough money to be self-sufficient.

Let's compare to what you do.  In your practice have you ever charge
someone fees that are low enough that you are just barely covering your
expenses or maybe not covering your expenses because they need those
services...and then "recoup" of those "lose leaders" by charging more to
other clients?  If so, then in essence you have some clients'
"subsidizing" other clients.  This is no different than what ACI does.

Further more, while ACI could more than likely improve their process to
make it at least a little more cost efficient, don't you think it is a
little arrogant on your part to imply/state that if they did it your way
that it would be so much better and more cost efficient...especially since
you likely have little or no idea how ACI functions (i.e. all their costs,
etc)?  Note I am not saying that your ideas and thoughts don't have some
merit but rather it is difficult for any "back seat drivers" to really
know what an organization like ACI is working with.  I can say that after
working there that a lot of your "electronic" push to reduce costs won't
work nearly a well as you think.  To put it another way, do you like it
when someone complains about what you charge them for your services,
especially considering the common lay person likely has very little idea
of what goes into producing the drawing that you supply to them?  After
all, the phyical product that you produce for a client is basically a
couple $ roll of paper...but it did not "cost" you must a couple $ to
produce what is on those drawings, yet that lay person likely know very
little of what you did to produce that stuff...even if you give them a
detailed explanation.  What makes you think that you know enough about
ACI's process for producing ACI 318 (or any other document) that you
really can know what it should really cost?  Do you know anything more of
ACI's process than one of your clients knows about your process?

As to the comment that we serve the public first, very true.  However, I
disagree that makes purchasing our tools second necessarily.  How can you
serve the public if you aren't willing to purchase the appropriate tools
to do that work?  Can a doctor "serve" the public without an office with
an exam table, bandages, medical supplies, x-ray machines, etc?  The point
is that ALL professions have inherent costs associated with them.  Doctors
must buy medical supplies, medical equipment, as well as office equipment.
Lawyers must do similar.  Why should engineers be any difference?  To
fortunate thing is that YOU (and I) get to decide by and large which tools
are necessary for us to complete our job.  No one says that you have to
have a computer...you could draw everything by hand and do all hand
calculations.  No one says that you HAVE to have a copy of the code that
you bought yourself...it is a convinience that you can CHOOSE to have
(personally, I buy my own copies as I consider them a necessary part of my
choosen profession...I have purchased ACI 318 since the 1989 edition; I
have purchased two editions of the BOCA code, the 1997 UBC code, and the
2000 and 2003 IBC code; I have purchased AISC manuals back to the 5th
edition of ASD; and so on...and this was even when I worked for large A/E
firms that had copies of these documents in their library that they had
purchased...it was more convient for me to have a personal copy).

And beyond that, keep in mind that those code books (or just plain old
reference/text books) that you purchase are a business expense that can
likely be written off come tax time if you operate your own business.  You
might even be able to deduct them even if you are working for someone
else (which is not your case).  I am no tax expert so you would likley
want to consult with one (I have not really had the need to desire to
pursue for myself to date since I have not bother to deal with such things
come tax time...which likely means that I have missed some deductions in
the past).  But, if so, then "Uncle Sam" would in essence be paying for
part of your code book purchases.

Regards,

Scott
Adrian, MI

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005, Dennis S. Wish, PE wrote:

> Scott,
> Scott - please understand this is e-mail is not discussing the issues of
> ambiguity and discontinuity in the design decision process that was
> mentioned by Acie and Steve. We are only discussing the economic issues
> related to how much a practitioner is willing to pay for information
> necessary to serve the public. It is my opinion that we become licensed
> to design and if we had a local college library within reach, I would
> never purchase a code or support reference as I could view it for free.
> Paying for it is simply a convenience for access. I don't have a problem
> with anyone who wants to buy the full reference, but I believe that we
> should be able to pick a specific design method written in the reference
> and be able to access the sections and all related references for a
> reasonable fee that does not require the purchase of the entire
> document. This should be our choice and if ACI, for example, can not
> survive without selling entire documents, their marketing in todays
> electronic information age is seriously flawed.
>
> Our job as professional engineers is to serve the public first.
> Purchasing out tools is secondary. If I don't want the full Autocad ADT
> 2005, then I can buy only what I need down to and including software
> such as Autocad LT or maintain an old copy without updating.  Let's
> remember Roger Turk never converted from DOS to "Windoze" - he was known
> for using only what he needed and when I went to visit him his office
> (in the assisted care center before he died) consisted to two computers
> - one in front and one behind which he only needed to rotate his wheel
> chair to access. Still, he designed using no more than what he needed
> and I don't believe that any industry should force us to support them by
> purchasing more than we need.
>
> Bottom line - as I said before - most associations simply do not know
> how to raise revenue by properly marketing their services to the entire
> community. Because of this only a small portion of the community
> purchase their documents or become supporting members. Ask if anyone who
> designs steel structures or bridges needs to purchase an AITC design
> manual to do a few joists.
>
> As Mel Brooks once said, Scott "May the Schwartz be with you!"
>
> --
>
> *Dennis S. Wish, PE*
> *California Professional Engineer
> Structural Engineering Consultant
>
> dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net*
> *
> 760.564.0884 (office - fax)
> *
>
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