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Re: Incompetent Plan Checker -- Was: Ceiling deflection damage caused by exc...

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ASLCSE(--nospam--at) wrote:
Thanks for the "lecture". I shall be more careful using the word "incompetent"
What would you call a P.E. "checking" the structural portion for a City Building Dept. where the EOR missed the following major items (just to mention a few):
1) There are no rafter ties, just a tiny (ineffective) ridge tie, no ridge beam just a ridge board.
    Using this system, the rafters would have to be trippled just to make stresses work.
2) The load to the exterior headers were taken as half of the "rafter span" in lieu of half of the roof width.
3) Interior second story shear walls are discontinuous and their loads were not transferred through the diaphragm to the 1st story shear walls (only some of the roof lateral loads made it to the base).
Now the checker is trying to tell me that he does not have to check the calculations or drawings because the structure "qualifies" for Conventional Light Framing Construction.
Luckily it was the contractor who questioned the approved plans and asked me to take a look at them.
Antonio S. Luisoni
Consulting S.E.     
When doing contract plan checking, the group I worked with knew of engineers and architects who may have been, as you suggest, incompetent, or used to creating an assembly line production that reused information from similar plans over and over again - making the same mistakes. When we see this many times, we will assemble a package including as set of drawings and analysis and submit them to BORPELS. It is up to them to determine competency - beyond this, there is little we can do but make the notation to correct. Ultimately someone pays for additional submittals. Usually the plan check fee assumes corrections will be made and resubmitted with a note explaining what was done (if justifying the original submittal) or where the changes can be found.

Please understand that submittals are not always easy and clear cut. The first step in most plan check is to spend the time to understand the method of design approach used by the EOR. Distribution of shear without grid locations often takes time to try and recreate so we understand where a reference occurs on the plans. Another problem is the reuse of plans or setting up an assembly line system where the submitter makes the same mistake again and again and never corrects his detail library or does not make the details specific to the plan.

I remember writing a computer spreadsheet for the retrofit of URM buildings. I was the lead engineer and the younger engineer below me threw the design at me in disgust when she claimed that I did not write the design software the way she designs but the way I would do the design. She never bothered to ask for instruction, but assumed that everyone designs the same way. We don't  - it's very simple when you see the number of techniques and time saving methods done by different engineers and designers.

You have options when evaluating another engineers work, but to come out publically blasting someone for a remark and making libelous accusations is not the way to do it. Keep it private rather than public as it is not your job to warn the community. If you don't agree with their interpretation of code or method, debate it and let the reader draw their own conclusion.



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


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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