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Re: California contract law BORPELS

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Reply from Scott Maxwell:

From: Scott Maxwell <smaxwell(--nospam--at)>
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: California contract law BORPELS


The question that I would ask is does BORPELS and CAB operate under the
same state law.  In other words, you seem to point to CAB being more
"lenient", is it possible that the law(s) (assuming that it is NOT the
same law that governs engineers) that govern architectural licensing is
different on this issue and CAB is just administering the current law.  I
really don't know the answer, but if somehow I am right, then the problem
needs to be addressed by the legislature NOT CAB/BORPELS...and good luck
on that.

Adrian, MI

I'm not sure how to answer either. Both are part of the California Department of Consumer Affairs; as are nurses, doctors, contractors, hair stylists, etc. However, I believe that each "group" has their own section within California's Business and Professions Code that would imply that it would be a legislature problem. There is a section with the "Business and Profession Code" for every working professional under the regulations of the Department of Consumer Affairs of California. These sections are authored by representation of the specific profession - not necessarily under the scrutiny of a overview committee that may look for conflicts. Either way, if the conflict exists, then as I think you are suggesting, it becomes a battle of lobbyists to attempt to bridge the gap that has existed way before I became an engineer. In the 60's we knew of the "Canyon" of professional discontinuity that existed between Architects and Engineers struggle not to cross the line that differentiates the professions, but the strenth of the lobby on both sides has only created a wall and not a bridge. In my twenty years, that bridge was never constructed - the walls just became higher.
This is a control problem, but it really should be a "responsibility" issue. The problem is that there is a respect for the differences in the professions in almost all areas of construction 'EXCEPT' residential. This was always the "bastard" of the engineering community since homes are not designed by engineers in many or most states. However, as the insurance cost rises to demand better performance; you might think that this is sufficient to finally create that bridge as responsible members of both professions seek to protect the public safety. It never happened. SEA worked to create more difficult design compliance methods for homes with a dynamic history of change that ultimately is ignored or will prevent most remodels from occuring in the future unless all design records are available. Not that it can't be done, the cost would most likely be prohibitive. On the other side, groups like AF&PA work honestly to hone better design standards for "Conventional Construction" as we see in the perforated wall menthods. Overall, there is very little "sharing" on this level.
So going back to being responsible members serving the public interest - it won't happen. Architects will demand complete autonomy and engineers will increase the complexity and difficulty of design methods that ultimatly result in the best performance coming only from those who can afford it. I'm not even talking about high end tracts that start at $750K - I'm speaking of the single family custom home where the homeowner gives the engineer the latitude and financial resources to design his building to a more "rigid" standard of compliance to the code.
I haven't seen much of this anymore - most of the $1M homes in my area are in gated communities and are developed to the lowest allowed standard for compliance with UBC Chapter 16 using alternative methods of design, the least amount of sheathing you can put on a home and the cheapest holddown device - usually straps. I'm speaking of the Sunrise, Puelty, Landmark, Cauffman and Broad etc.  Depending on the project, if they have a director of construction, my experience with one of the above was a lecture I received in the "free enterprise system". Nothing is free without disclosure and if the buyer does not have some indication of the permformance expectation in a moderate to large seismic event, then this is not, in my opinion, the ideology behind a free enterprise system - it is a "greed" factor.
BTW, the unlicensed designer I started this with is designing homes for one of the above and at a starting prices of $750K. In the last two years or so they have added stone veneer to the face of the sheathing and still minimize the amound of plywood on the structures. While the veneer looks good, we are seeing it on commercial buildings like the local Target store where the same veneer came down after a mile quake.
Bridge the gap and you may be able to resolve the problems for the sake of the public. However, that gap is about as wide now as the North Rim is from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Best Regards,

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