How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects - General Discussion - Contractor Talk

How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects

 
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Old 07-19-2012, 04:55 PM   #1
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How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


What about when you are moving a load bearing wall? What about something simple like building a deck? What about a Deck with a roof over it? What about resizing a window?

These are all instances where I could see using one. But how many really do? I'd take out the window and maybe a simple deck because I can follow the codes which dictate construction. But maybe even that is wrong?

I would rather pay someone else to carry the design liability. I'm not an engineer and don't like to act like one either. I can do a little bit of structural analysis myself....but I don't like the idea of carrying that risk. Many times, I get flack for my thinking.

Are there any others like me? I mean, if you don't, are you really comfortable with the risk?

Just curious to hear your thoughts....
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:00 PM   #2
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Your thinking is right. So far Ive only consulted a engineer on 1 project. I had to have a drawing and a stamp to pass framing inspection. Im glad I did. No worries that way. The engineer drew up a plan way more efficient than what I had in mind.

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Old 07-19-2012, 05:17 PM   #3
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Just depends on the SOW and if the plan checker will buy the plans as drawn.

Most everything out here now requires a wet stamp at time of submittal to building separtment.
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:17 PM   #4
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


I have an engineer stamp all my structural plans – even stuff like adding or enlarging a window. I don’t on decks – seems that basic span charts work for the building department and nothing has crashed… yet!
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


If something was to fail, the inspectors and plan reviewers won't be liable. At the end of the day I'll be stuck holding that bag. They might get a slap on the wrist.
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:23 PM   #6
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Originally Posted by DaVinciRemodel View Post
I have an engineer stamp all my structural plans – even stuff like adding or enlarging a window. I don’t on decks – seems that basic span charts work for the building department and nothing has crashed… yet!
Span tables are good. They tell me everything I need to know. What about when a roof is added. Would you then consult an engineer?
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:30 PM   #7
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


I don't have any problem with liability from structural engineering in most cases. Things like multifamily require stamped drawings around here. For the rest, I only get concerned if it's a structural repair and the building has some other structural issues in my opinion that could interact with the repair. I don't worry too much about the rest. Claims only come off of failures of one kind or another and I've seen enough to have a good idea what might fail. People can sue you even if you had nothing to do with a fail - it's a free country. I don't get too worked up about it.
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Old 07-19-2012, 05:47 PM   #8
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Originally Posted by rdr8887 View Post
Span tables are good. They tell me everything I need to know. What about when a roof is added. Would you then consult an engineer?
Yes!

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Originally Posted by hdavis View Post
I don't have any problem with liability from structural engineering in most cases. Things like multifamily require stamped drawings around here. For the rest, I only get concerned if it's a structural repair and the building has some other structural issues in my opinion that could interact with the repair. I don't worry too much about the rest. Claims only come off of failures of one kind or another and I've seen enough to have a good idea what might fail. People can sue you even if you had nothing to do with a fail - it's a free country. I don't get too worked up about it.
I don't think I get too worked up about it. It's just SOP for us to have plans stamped. I do most of the designs - I carry "Errors & Omissions" but why not have your work checked before it's built? The customer pays for it.

In reality I should have my decks checked also.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:52 PM   #9
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Quote:
Originally Posted by DaVinciRemodel View Post
Yes!



I don't think I get too worked up about it. It's just SOP for us to have plans stamped. I do most of the designs - I carry "Errors & Omissions" but why not have your work checked before it's built? The customer pays for it.

In reality I should have my decks checked also.
Probably because I'm anal about it. I'll design a few different ways and check a few different ways. It'd just annoy me to have to sit down with the guy that has a stamp and explain to him why he's wrong. I've had to do this on ones which required engineering stamps a couple times - I'll do a full design and let the engineer do his full design. I can only catch his mistakes if I've already designed it and analyzed it.
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Old 07-19-2012, 06:59 PM   #10
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Wow, you must be some kind of wicked cool engineering genius.

Andy.
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:15 PM   #11
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Originally Posted by hdavis View Post
Probably because I'm anal about it. I'll design a few different ways and check a few different ways. It'd just annoy me to have to sit down with the guy that has a stamp and explain to him why he's wrong. I've had to do this on ones which required engineering stamps a couple times - I'll do a full design and let the engineer do his full design. I can only catch his mistakes if I've already designed it and analyzed it.
The engineer I use and I have been together for almost 15 years now. I rarely need to explain anything to him. He usually stamps my drawing and sometimes adds a detail for me (read as “over-builds”). It’s collaboration.

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Wow, you must be some kind of wicked cool engineering genius.

Andy.
Ouch!
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:26 PM   #12
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Nearly every deck we build is engineer stamped. I've gotten so used to it I think i'll use him even when not "required".
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:35 PM   #13
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


I can see SE being involved on a huge complex structure where design calls for large spans, wind loads, tension loads,etc... Most residential construction dont need a structural engineer, Because architect can design homes using most common load factors and conventional framing details in the region were they did 100 + homes without any issues...not to mention most Architects I worked with, they use stractural engineers only if they come across a complex design, etc just to make sure the design they designed and components they incorporated will support loads in question.

I have seen a few basic residential additions were SE was a friend of the family or someone they knew who helped them design the addition or some other construction project, and it was way over designed, and it almost doubled the cost of lumber, etc. and if any Architect would design the same thing, it would be done using basic conventional lumber, and it would work just the same.
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Old 07-19-2012, 07:57 PM   #14
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Originally Posted by ScipioAfricanus View Post
Wow, you must be some kind of wicked cool engineering genius.

Andy.
No, but thanks for the complement
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:02 PM   #15
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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The engineer I use and I have been together for almost 15 years now. I rarely need to explain anything to him. He usually stamps my drawing and sometimes adds a detail for me (read as “over-builds”). It’s collaboration.
I my case, I've worked with the same engineer twice - every other time it's been someone else, including architects. I could just have an engineer go over my design, tweak it and stamp it, but since there really isn't a long term relationship, I'd rather hand it off and catch any of his errors.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:28 PM   #16
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Nearly every deck we build is engineer stamped. I've gotten so used to it I think i'll use him even when not "required".
Anything steel gets a stamp, IMO.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:49 PM   #17
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


Much of what we build is non-typical so we go to a SE pretty regularly for unusual conditions, complex framing etc. We can handle most calculations; span tables, headers etc, but know when to defer to the experts.

In school I was taught that wood calculations have a safety factor of 3 built in. So whatever the span tables say, the load a given member is actually capable of carrying is three times that. This is to compensate for the knots, checks etc that occur in the material.
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:15 PM   #18
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


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Anything steel gets a stamp, IMO.
Yup, even though it shouldn't... But oh well, I'm sure my engineer likes my money (rarely does he have to change anything on my designs) mostly easy stuff for him.
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Old 07-19-2012, 10:56 PM   #19
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


It is all about risk assumption. I have to suggest it, but not require it, but my risk profile is low because I sell it not install it. If you are comfortable about your risk exposure, go for it.
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Old 07-20-2012, 07:03 AM   #20
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Re: How Many Actually Involve A Structural Engineer On Projects


I've used an engineer only a handful of times. Basically, I take what I'm planning on doing to the permit office and review with the inspector. Trusses come with the engineers stamp from the manufacturer, span tables normally are good for rafters, beams, etc.

Except for in the city, we aren't required to permit decks without roofs. But when you add a roof, it's called a porch. Then the floor framing requires inspection also, so I don't follow why they make the distinction.

Good Luck
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