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RE: inspection form..

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Many states have special inspection forms, programs and requirements.  The genesis for a lot of special inspection was not the seismic issues in the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake.  The genesis was further back with the Hyatt walkway collapse in 1981. 
A lot of the blame was placed on a lack of inspection.  The Kansas City buildings department cleaned house and hired Gerry Jones to head up their department.  Gerry developed a program of inspection.  This program evolved into Kansas City's special inspection program and special inspection manual.  The manual defines roles and duties for inspection.  It is due for an update, but it is still a very good reference. 
It is no coincidence that Gerry worked with the National Institute of Building Sciences for many years and has brought with him his inspection lessons from Kansas City. 
I have looked into structural failures all over the US and have found that a well crafted and implimented program of inspection and structural observation could have averted most of the collapses.

Regards, Harold Sprague


From: akester(--nospam--at)
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: inspection form..
Date: Fri, 31 Jul 2009 08:46:55 -0400

Not to beat a dead horse, but I just read this Texas form. I think we are talking about two different roles as structural engineers here which we should all be aware of, and you probably are:

a)      Design EOR construction admin services: regular site visits to OBSERVE the construction in progress, speak with the GC and his representatives, go over RFIs and conflicts, troubleshoot. Take some pics and marvel at your hard work. You are not inspecting anything. Leave your tape in the car unless you are as-builting for a revised detail or something. Never use the words certify or inspect, use OBSERVE. Answer questions that you can with, “That sounds like a good idea, let me go back to the office and check that out and I will let you know right away.” Put all decisions you make regarding construction IN WRITING, and CC the architect/owner. Put legal language in your contracts as such that you are not performing in-depth inspections and your presence on the site in no way relieves the GC and all his subs, the inspectors, the threshold engineers, etc. of their duties to ensure the building is constructed correctly.

b)      Threshold inspector/engineer or special inspector: You are at the site nearly every day INSPECTING, checking rebar, welds, member sizes, dimensions, roof attachments, fasteners, reviewing concrete tests, etc. Your butt is on the line for every bolt. You have a hefty fee or hourly agreement to perform construction inspection services. This is not a drive by, all looks good, where do I sign situation. You are either live at the site for a big job or are there every other day for many hours. In this case, that form seems adequate and proper to me, if you are the everyday inspector. In Florida certain building types and SF require a threshold inspector who must be a PE and also have a separate license. The EOR must file a threshold inspection plan with the permitting agency that the threshold inspector uses as his guide. The EOR is not responsible to certify anything with the as-built construction, the threshold inspector is; the EOR is responsible for the design drawings being correct, the threshold inspector is NOT.


Generally, you could get into trouble if you were the EOR doing regular observations, and agreed to sign a form like that or certify anything, like others have said is a big NO NO. Or if you agreed to that up front, but did not budget yourself correctly for what is involved to inspect and certify construction, then you should bite the bullet and eat the time needed to do the job right, and learn for next time. I have never done this type of work and stay away from it, you need to know what you are doing, have the right training and licensure, and have a good E and O policy that covers that specific type of work.


I believe I have this correct, but please correct anything I have wrong. Do they have similar arrangements in other states, I know California has special inspector requirements? That form sounds like this type of arrangement.


Andrew Kester, PE

Orlando, FL



Excellent sage advice Stan, send that in to the engineering rags. Nice to know we have some shrewd businessman in our ranks. My favorite local radio guy says “Everyone cuts their own deal.” Ever seen law offices and dental offices in strip malls? Do you think that is what they had in mind when they were in school? It all depends on what you want in life and the sacrifices you are willing to make. And we are not all created equal. Some of us may be content doing small jobs for mediocre clients and making decent money, but not having a lot of pressure, stress, and not working 50-60 hours a week. Cut your own deal.

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