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Re: Plan Checking

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I have done plan checking for cities and have submitted hundreds of plans for plan checking. In my opinion there are equal numbers of mediocre people on each side. Some plan checkers want calcs. on everything but studs which are less than 8 ft. high. We try to judge to what extent the plan checker wants to prove things. And many times we submit things so we can get paid, as Dennis rightfully said.
Stan Scholl, P.E.
Laguna Beach, CA
On Wed, 09 Mar 2005 23:11:49 -0800 "Dennis S. Wish, PE" <dennis.wish(--nospam--at)> writes:
Just to put in my 2 cents:
As history has shown, one should not and cannot rely on the plan checker.
I appreciate a good plan check (or should I call it Plan review) with constructive "corrections", however most of the time that is not the case.
What I really hate is receiving a "pre-printed" correction sheet with  items circled by the plan checker. Either he/she is
a) Inexperienced and circles items to broaden his/her  knowledge (on my time and dime) or
b) He/she circles items that are clearly shown on the submitted calculations and/or drawings, or
c)  His/her command of the English language is very poor and circles items on the correction sheet which may have a word or "_expression_" in it that he is looking for.
I believe, that plan corrections should be "clearly" (legibly) hand written or typed by the checker, this way he hopefully can address his real question.
That sad part is that we have to answer to or comment on every "correction".
In regards to "incompetent" I too use this word for licensed engineers to whom structural plan review is farmed out by a Bldg. Dept. and apparently just "rubberstamp" the drawings, ignore the submitted calculations that are full of grave mistakes (to the tune that the structure would even collapse if built as "approved") and use the excuse that they are not being paid enough and that only the EOR is responsible for the drawings and calculations.  "Professionals" like this (checker and EOR) should be reported to the State Board.
Antonio S. Luisoni
Consulting Structural Engineer
To support Bill's objection, I would have to say that the indiscriminate use of the word incompetent is similar to the work liable - it must be proved and this requires litigation or the review by a council of their peers.

On the other side of the coin - I've done plan review and when you do a few hundred (really less to get set off) you become frustrated with engineers and/or architects doing engineering that submit incomplete sets of drawings and calculations and then "challenge" the plan checker to find them. It used to be that by doing so an engineer was getting into the city's schedule and could finish his work while the initial submittal was being reviewed. Furthermore, some engineers have used this technique to obtain payment from a client if their contract states that they get so much for a retain, so much when submitted to plan check and so much when the corrections are completed.

I do agree that it is frustration when there is an abuse on either side, but this is far from incompetent - it is a ploy or game to manipulate a client or a busy building department to slip in a set of plans and then possibly transfer and updated set before the structural plan check is started. Most plan check authorities have at least a week or two (most have more in busy areas) to turn around the plan review and this means that the project goes into the hopper and does not get started for a week or more - giving the structural a chance to finish his or her work after billing the client.

There are too many games played and when I see something this obvious, I tend to go to the standard ICBO Plan Check list and circle all items that I want to see on the drawings and add a note that the drawings were incomplete and that a review could not be completed until the circled items have been addressed. In other words they start at square one again and it becomes an issue between the engineer and/or architect and whomever advanced the payments.

To call someone Incompetent without prefacing an opinion is virtually slanderous and must be proved. The accuser needs to do this through appropriate channels rather than using their personal criteria as the De facto standard.

In this case I would be very careful about throwing around this word when referring to a specific person. However, if you are referring to a method of construction or design that you disagree with you might use incompetent design or incompetent methods in your argument as an opinion stating what you feel is at fault and allow those reading your post to debate the issue. Personal attacks against the professional ability one person is unacceptable and I will admit that I probably have broken this rule myself at times, but see the other side of the argument now.


Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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