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Owner's Inspector Playing Engineer

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I had an interesting development on a project I designed some time ago, which 
 is now being built.

The steel framing I designed using single-plate shear connections. The typical 
 plate thickness was 1/4", though I did have a few 5/16" plates in there.

Found out AFTER it was erected that the owner's inspector, stating he was 
"uncomfortable" with the "thin plates," directed the fabricator to make them 
 all 3/8" thick.

What's more, he claimed he never saw any framing like this done without DTI 
 washers, so he ordered those thrown in there too.

All this without saying a word to me about the changes.

Now, I've done a few slip-critical connections in my time, but never for 
something like this.

I haven't had time to go back and look but I suspect what they've done is 
basically screw up the ability of these connections to rotate as they were 


1. Just based on the qualitative info here, what detrimental effects might 
result from this change?

2. What are the legal and ethical ramifications, if any, of making this 
change without consulting the structural engineer of record, from whose 
design drawings the shop and erection drawings were made?

3. Given that the S&E drawings were reviewed and approved by the SEoR prior 
 to fabrication, and thus that the changes were directed EXCLUSIVE of the 
S&E drawing review, again without any notification by the non-engineer 
directing the changes, what sorts of recourse could or would you advise, if 

W. L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.


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