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California plan stamping

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I used to be concerned about where I advertise or how I promote my business, but it appears that BORPELS has either lost their funding or lost their concern regarding the practice of engineering.

On once case an engineer solicited and received a job that was completed by another engineer (who was or was not paid) in the Los Angeles area. The plans were sold with the building twice and the final owner obtained his own California Professional Engineer from the Valencia area who removed the name and copyright notice on the drawings and replaced them with his own. I believe he did the same with the calculations and then wet sealed and submitted the set. BORPELS refused to act indicating that the violation of the Intellectual Property rights was a legal matter that needed to be resolved by the violated engineer.

In my area, an unlicensed engineer who had worked for a local firm decided to go into private practice and advertised his firm using his name under the Structural Engineers section of the phone book. BORPELS was notified as this non-engineer solicited other engineers outside the area that he used to work with and who was now over 150 miles away to wet seal his work. As one of the contract plan checkers, the work was sub-standard in our opinion and we entered a complaint with BORPELS along with the correction lists, a copy of the submitted drawings and the history as to the four to six times the same drawings were submitted for plan review.

BORPELS contact the layman who was advertising himself as a structural engineering consultant in the Structural Engineers section of the phone book. BORPELS settled by asking the offending businessman to simply change the company name from his full name to initials. When I asked, Sally Strubinger and a Marge Freeman from BORPELS indicated that they understand the problem with Yellow Page advertising and have had no luck getting GTE or any of the Yellow Page publications to change the name of the heading from Structural Engineer to Structural Engineer(ing). They are no longer addressing complaints in yellow page advertising.
What gets me is that they are also not going after this person who has built an engineering practice that is a sole proprietorship with one or two employees - none of whom are licensed in the state of California to practice Civil or Structural engineering.

How can we compete when I receive calls telling me that the potential client has contacted firms in the area including this one who is not licensed and should not be advertising. If I say anything to the potential client, I am seen as badmouthing the other firm and will generally lose the business. BORPELS has failed to act on this and while they had financial difficulties for a while as the Governor wanted to disband BORPELS as well as all professional licensing and place them all under one office in the Department of Consumer Affairs. This was finally shot down and professional licensing boards are still being funded.

Some time ago I contact the California Architectural Board because of an architect who was wet stamping work done by non-engineers in Mexico. The CAB informed me that they do not (and I am paraphrasing this) act to mitigate hazard or verify code compliance. They will only act if there is damage that causes the injury or death of a person. Therefore, the Architect is allowed to hire and seal the work of whomever they please and no action can be taken against them until failure occurs. This same Architect designed trusses for a home I designed (he gets $75.00 to wet seal the truss calculations) but did not follow the structural drawings that identified all drag trusses and provided the lateral design loads). I did not discover this until the framing inspection as truss calcs were late in coming and I was not provided a set until the roof was in place.

How is it possible for us to improve the quality of design and construction when the sub-contractors or non-engineers are either ignoring the work we do or are simply running a non-professional office that relies upon finding engineers willing to wet stamp their work, but which are sub-standard by the plans examiners standards. Ultimately, these projects get permitted, but someone gives in and compromises on quality when price is the issue.

I'm not sure how many of you have had a similar experience with BORPELS, but considering how aggressively they went after engineers for minor problems in the past, they have taken a 180 degree turn and are now ignoring potential structurally deficient designs or violations to the state business and professional act. FWIW, Verizon following GTE was never able to get my ad in the yellow pages (a free listing) located in the correct section. I attempted to have it moved and even notified BORPELS of the problem I had so that I would not be in trouble for listing under Structural Engineers. I went as far as to explain to callers who obtained my name via the Yellow pages that I was a professional engineer and not an SE which is a special license in California for those qualified to work on schools and hospitals. I was told that they no longer responded to these complaints since they tried what they could to have Yellow Pages change the heading of the phone books. Personally, I've given up trying to explain the change to Verizon since they never have moved my ad. However, what is more of an issue? Promoting a business in the Structural Engineers section of the phone book that is not owned or does not employ a professional engineer, violating another engineers copyright or listing an engineer who practices structural engineering in the Structural Engineers section of the phone book? FWIW, I billed the client for the additional work I had to do to justify the connection of my shearwalls to the diaphragm rather than to a drag truss. Why should an Architect be allowed to wet seal truss calculations that he can not understand and at our expense or that of the owner?




Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant (Photo Blog) (Launch to Professional Discussion Blogs)


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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