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RE: Residential Engineering Review/Coordination Process

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The situation was very similar in Florida until the adoption of the 2001 and 2004 FBC and some rule changes by the engineering board.

Probably the best thing the board did was to explicitly require communication between the truss engineer and the engineer of record. The state had previously adopted TPI-1 Chapter 2 but the truss engineer is typically contracted with the owner/contractor and is not a sub-consultant of the engineer of record. Engineers were having a hard time controlling the document flow to and from the truss engineer.

You can review the florida laws and rules at www.fbpe.org.

 

We still have some similar issues as you mention but the gap is closing in my opinion. For example, even though residential prescriptive design is technically still allowed without an engineer, most building officials here are very critical of plans submitted without an engineer’s certification.

 

There are very few engineers now doing wind or lateral only engineering even though it is technically permitted in the code as long as the contractor provides the remaining structural and non-structural certifications. The building officials make this very difficult and for good reason I think.

 

The building official has the authority to accept the seal of the engineer as proof of code compliance without further review. However, only the smallest undermanned jurisdictions do this in my experience. I too appreciate the scrutiny of the AHJ.

 

The owner that wants the engineer to conduct construction observation for residential is a rare creature.

 

With regard to the IRC, the Florida flavor of the IBC/IRC permits a combination of IBC-style engineered design and IRC-style prescriptive design as long as the engineered design is compatible and consistent with the prescriptive “design”. Engineered design is usually required here since much of florida is above most of the wind speed thresholds in the Florida IRC prescriptive documents and most houses exceed the size/span/height/configuration limitations of the Florida IRC.

 

The best thing that I have done in the past few years is to require written contracts for all jobs.  The florida building code, statutes, and board rules give a wide berth to contractual arrangements between the engineer and owner. You will find that the best way to control your liability, responsibility, and project coordination requirements is to put it into the agreement. Owners/contractors/building officials may not appreciate the rules that you must operate under but they and the courts understand written contracts and these often trump contrary practices and board “guidelines” to the contrary.

 

Christopher Banbury, PE

President

 

Ark Engineering, Inc.

PO Box 10129, Brooksville, FL 34603

22 North Broad ST, Brooksville, FL 34601

Phone: (352) 754-2424

Fax: (352) 754-2412

www.arkengineering.net