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"What Do I Need You For?"

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I heard this question recently. A custom homebuilder gave me an interview. He was interested in possibly using me for foundation design--the big issue in our area. But I began to talk also about the need for "engineered home construction," and he stared at me like I was trying to sell him a life insurance policy.

"Well, we build our homes right, but this is just common sense. We don't need an engineer to tell us how to do this."

I mentioned the limitations of "prescriptive design." He paused. "What is 'prescriptive design'?" he asked.

I also paused. "Well, how do you determine the connection details that you're going to use?" I replied.

"Well, we just do what we've always done. Our houses pass our internal inspection."

Bear in mind that this company builds only on "country lots," that is, out in rural areas where there is no building code and no building inspection beyond what the warranty people provide. As far as he's concerned, "why should I pay for an engineer to tell us what we already know how to do?"

Now, you can imagine the situation. His homes are quite large. They do have an in-house architect, an older retired guy that (I have a feeling) doesn't really worry to much about connection details. The homes are fancy. The homes have large spans and large roof areas.

In short, the homes typically fall outside the parameters of "prescriptive design" shown in the IRC 2000.

But he does what he's always done because no one's there to tell him different.

I wonder what it's going to take?

(My guess: A Category 5 hurricane).

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