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Re: Architect cheating on structural calculations - where's the building depa...

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In a message dated 12/7/2005 9:51:25 AM Pacific Standard Time, pfeather(--nospam--at) writes:
Don't mis-understand, I am not condoning rubber stamp reviews with the argument that they are not paid enough, this is as distasteful as an engineer saying they were not paid enough to do the job properly (I have heard variations of this one).
The question really comes down to "What is structural plan check?"  A search of the archives will reveal series of debates on the need for plan check, bad plan check, good plan check and so forth.  I have experienced the full range.
I won't claim to have all the answers, but I have come to understand many of the problems.  A plan checker cannot be expected to catch errors on a complex project in a few short hours when that project has taken months to design, unless those errors are blatant.  If a jurisdiction truly wants to have a structural plan check, anything less than peer review by competent equally licensed individuals will be flawed.  A system where authority is given without accountability is prone to abuse.
In an ideal world, the licensed professional should not need "plan check", and it bothers me to see engineers who feel that somehow receiving building department approval means their work is adequate and that the plan check process "checked" their work.
You  probably will be surprised at this one: When I gave testimony in a court case (many years ago),  the judge dismissed the case, stating, that when the Building Department issues a permit, that means they checked everything and found it to be correct!!!.
I too do not expect a plan checker (or its consultant) to go through a complex structure in details, but in a one or two story residental structure major mistakes that can and will cause a collapse should be caught, especially by a licensed engineer. Most of the times one only has to go through the drawings and not even "checking"