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Re: Ceiling deflection damage caused by excessive snow - who is responsible[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: Re: Ceiling deflection damage caused by excessive snow - who is responsible
- From: "Paul Feather" <pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net>
- Date: Sat, 5 Mar 2005 15:02:28 -0800
Reality is that the smaller municipalities / rural counties cannot afford the skilled personnel for structural review. Basic plan check is rudimentary at best or sent out to a plan checking service. Even simple questions can be difficult to get an answer to because they really don't know, and do not want to give an answer you are going to hang your hat on. They would be better off referring you to the entity that actually performs their plan review. The quality of the "out-house" plan checking services are also highly variable, from excellent to flat out missing the important things, or trying to dictate the engineering design through intransigence with regard to vague areas of interpretation (vicarious practice).
Some of the plan check services are actually excellent, and I am thankful when I see the review going to their offices. It is always refreshing to deal with qualified people who you can actually discuss things with on a common plane. A few of the out-house services are really really bad and are obviously under contract due to political connections rather than competence. With some of the in-house review systems you may as well be talking greek and end up feeling like you should submit a bill for the seminar provided as part of structural plan review. Again, reality dictates one cannot expect structural review in a few weeks for a project the engineer has lived and breathed for months.
The simplest way to deal with most basic questions is to ask if there are any published requirements in addition to the building code. Most jurisdictions with higher local standards will at least have a sheet outlining what those requirements are. The person on the phone may not know what the ground snow load is, but they will know to send out form X.
So the question ultimately boils down to "What is the purpose of plan review, and how effective is the current system in obtaining this goal?" Without trying to be un-PC, plan review and the permit process is really about revenue, conforming with zoning and planning requirements, and general public safety. For conventional "non-engineered" structures, typical plan review (structural) should be required for agreement that the structure qualifies for non-engineered construction. With regard to engineered construction, the responsibility rests with the professional who is signing the drawings and carrying the liability. Field inspection for conformance with the drawings is important, inspectors authorizing changes in the field should be prohibited.
But we can't have it both ways: either we are responsible because we are the professional, or we require a highly skilled public entity to oversee our work and provide "approval". Many states do not even require the submittal of structural calculations, we are supposed to be the responsible professional.
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