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RE: responsibility to retrofit existing structure during renovation

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I generally concur with stating an opinion about an obvious deficiency. The reality however is that it requires considerations which often go beyond just tossing your opinion out there. For instance, once a ceiling and wall finish is uncovered and toe nails are observed on the inside face of roof rafters or trusses, it would be logical to suspect that given the environmental conditions and code requirements, ties would be required. A quick calculation (or experience) could indicate that more is required. The ties may exist on the outside or in some other location not directly visible so any statements about the “apparent” deficiency needs to provide for an opportunity to negate your opinion with additional information.


In the case of reviewing another’s drawings in addition to field observing the condition, I would first contact the design engineer to allow him/her to respond. This is an appropriate first step before casting out an opinion (in my opinion). Follow up by written response is fairly direct if you have been retained by an interested party, but needs to respect the “divulgence of information” rule. I would keep in mind the intention here. If it has a serious consequence (in your opinion) and imminent danger exists,  then blowing a whistle is appropriate. If it has the potential to harm, then notification through channels and “going on record” may be appropriate.


I can see that I’m wading far too far into expressing my opinion about a hypothetical situation, so will shut up.


Barry H. Welliver

BHW Engineers L.L.C.



From: Christopher Banbury [mailto:cbanbury(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 10:45 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: RE: responsibility to retrofit existing structure during renovation


Thanks Barry,

Feel free to answer without one or more of the conditions I stated if you think that is a more interesting case. I get a lot of those situations too.

This just seems to be the most restrictive case and I’m wondering what my liability might be if say a roof blows off and it is discovered that the building was recently renovated and the engineer didn’t specify any retrofit even though it might have been easily done.


Christopher Banbury, PE



Ark Engineering, Inc.

PO Box 10129, Brooksville, FL 34603

22 North Broad ST, Brooksville, FL 34601

Phone: (352) 754-2424

Fax: (352) 754-2412