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Re: footings look too big

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This is a common problem.
I worked in a Government owned multi-disciplinary consultancy organisation for 26 years.
I've had my clients tell me:
Your columns are massive, or your beams are too deep.
Why put a brace here? Come on, you can't block the building.
When I talk about stability, they ask "Don't trees stand without braces?"
No one is ever happy with the total quantity of steel that we work out.
What ! Hey Steel doesn't grow on trees! Do you really need all that much?
Catch me investing so much in steel and concrete.
I would rather spend on machinery and equipment.
 
I could regale you with several anecdotes about my encounters with clients who were technically illiterate.
 
Here are a couple.
 
1)A client's project manager told us he wanted us to design our floors for a live load of 40 tons/square meter.(8170 psf). I knew he was ignorant and that floors like this were usually designed for 400 kg/sq meter(81.7 psf). This was in a meeting called to discuss and freeze design paramaters. I told him politely that his figure was absurd and that it was a hundred times too high!
 
He took offence as I had contradicted him in an open meeting in front of his subordinates and he did not want to cut a sorry figure in their presence. He stuck to his guns and to my utter amazement told me that he had been dealing with engineers like me for close to 20 years and he needed no lessons from me on how much load to specify for his buildings.
 
Once again I requested him to review his figures. May be he had got his units wrong or may be had received a statement with a typographical error. He wouldn't budge. I would have dropped the matter then and raked it up privately later but he insisted on minuting this figure. I refused to sign the minutes accepting  this  load on a floor supported on steel beams and stated that our cost estimates did not consider such a high loading.
 
He then delivered what he believed was the coup de grace! In our area, when even the soil can take 20 tons/square meter, why can't your steel beams support 40 tons/square meter? If you can't give us what we want, may be we should get another engineer who can.

I won't weary you with the details of the strenous days ahead and of what followed. The floor was ultimately designed for 400 kg / sq meter and that project manager avoided me for months after that meeting.
 
2) A rich industrialist client was visiting his construction site. We were the consultants for this project(his most ambitious so far). This was the first time he was investing in a building of this size with overhead travelling cranes. This was also the first time that any of his buildings had columns spaced at 12 meters (All his other buildings had columns spaced at 6 m). The foundations were designed for the loads on columns spaced at 12 meters, and these loads included   the loads from two EOT cranes(of 100 Ton capacity each) operating in tandem,  per technologist's specifications. Code stipuations were also stringent. The soil bearing capacity per report received was not too encouraging.  The foundation was admittedly bigger than normal. It was designed by my colleague and I had no reason to doubt his calcs. It was based on my inputs. I designed the superstructure. He did the foundations.
 
The owner blew his top when he saw the size of the excavation. He sarcasticaly asked if we had found a long lost civilization and were digging it up! He ordered the work to stop and said he was not going to pour his money into bottomless pits in the ground. He didn't want to discuss with minions like us and preferred to deal with the highest levels in our organisation.
 
Faxes flew fast  and furious  back and forth. Both I and my colleague were summoned by our management. It took two weeks, and a visit from an academician to whom our management referred the designs for proof checking before our management politely informed the client that the design was in order. A detailed report outlining the reasons for the size of the foundation, a summary of design inputs and output and a copy of the academician's endorsement was also attached.
 
That report was never read by our client who was later heard remarking to another contractor that this was the last time he was going to engage a Government owned consultancy organisation for any of his projects. He believed we had the capacity to make the richest businessmen go bankrupt !
 
Life is not easy for us civil/structural engineers.
Almost any Tom Dick or Harry finds it easy to comment on our work and express opinions, which they are unable to do with the work of our colleagues in the Electrical, Instrumentation, Piping and Technology departments. Their work is mysterious and laymen cannot fathom their drawings and calcs. A common joke in our organsiation was that in kick off meetings with our clients at the start of the project,  several hours are spent with the client on discussing parking shed designs, locations of toilets and canteens and the color schemes but the decisions on technology, and manufacturing processes are cleared in minutes.
 
Regards
Vish

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