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Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?

 
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Old 07-08-2012, 01:46 AM   #1
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Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Sometimes on this site and frequently on the sister DIY site, I notice contractors suggesting that the OP have an Architect or engineer specify a given header or beam size or total structural design.
My question to you guys is, have you ever worked with an Archy that has engineered any non prescriptive structure (an Archy that is not also a P.E. or S.E.)?
I just don't see this happening. I know that in Archy school they have to take some classes in engineering and the subsequent math courses like Trig and Calculus, (so have I, big whoop) but the level of courses they take does not prepare them to do structural calculations like that of a P.E.

What say you?

Andy.
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:24 AM   #2
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Most of the prints I have worked off of that are drawn up by an architect have in house structural engineers or farm it out. The smaller "shops" will probably rely on prescriptive numbers.

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Old 07-08-2012, 07:27 AM   #3
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


I suppose anyone can spec a specific section, but without the seal of an engineer, it is not taken as legally binding. One home designer we use often will have foundation plans and cross sections, and piers for porch posts detailed, all without even knowing the soil conditions.
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:29 AM   #4
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


The Ontario Building Code is written with various sections, the one most commonly used is called Part 9. Anyone can design and build as per Part 9. In Part 9 it gives different scenarios based on your conditions and you can literally match up rows and columns and figure it out yourself, if you fall outside the perimeters of what you are doing it goes to Part 4 which is engineered and then you need an engineer.

In the ICF industry most major manufacturers have produced tables for us to deal with rebar for backfill and lintels. The only issue I have with that is the designs are all maxed out to cover situations most times you don't get, I.E. it's all designed to meet an earthquake in California...and yet California will not accept it as it is not job specific. If your just doing a small project it's not financially worth engineering to the job. However on a larger job it pays to have an engineer as those costs maybe off set by the savings that can be realized.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:53 AM   #5
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


My understanding is that the first job of an Architect is to design. Structural calculations/specifications need to be done by an engineer.

Which brings up something I ran into last week - a carpenter friend is building a deck for an architect. The architect specified 2x6 joists, which is illegal here under our building code.

My friend called him on it, and he said "I'm an architect, I can spec whatever I want". He stamped the drawings, and the building inspector let it go.

I believe this is wrong. So my question is - can an architect overide the building code?
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:06 AM   #6
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Around here, all that depends on what the structure is. I have neither an architecture nor an engineering stamp or degree. I may provide basic engineering which the building department double checks. The most obvious are headers and simple beams. I must show the engineering calculations.

With engineered lumber, the software provided by the manufacturer is adequate. We must include the software supplied engineering printouts. The plans examiner double checks our work.

There was a time (possibly still, I haven't checked) when the engineered lumber manufacturer also included in their software engineering for dimension lumber. The plans examiner would accept that.

The plans examiner has the option of requiring an engineers seal if the application looks like something other than the standard run of the mill stuff or if engineering calculations are not provided with the plans.

On trusses we must have the manufacturer supplied engineer stamped drawing for each different truss. If the project includes 50 different truss designs/sizes 50 engineered drawings would be required. Of course these are the very same drawings the truss supplier builds the trusses from.
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:14 AM   #7
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Only engineers licensed to practice in the state in which the work is to take place can provide engineering services.

In some states, only a licensed engineer associated with a registered and licensed engineering firm can perform these services.
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:19 AM   #8
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


In California an architect is licensed to do structural calculations and stamp them for quite a few structures. Some do, most don't.

I have worked extensively with an architect who is easily as or more competent than most of the structural engineers that I've worked with and have discovered that just because someone has a license doesn't necessarily mean they're competent or they're thorough in their analysis.

Also, in response to the question 'Can an architect override the building code?' I don't think they can and they'd be crazy to do so in any case just for potential liability issues.
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:38 AM   #9
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


This is going to vary by each State. In Wisconsin for example, anyone can design a structure under 30,000 c.f. If it is bigger than that then you need a stamped professional, either engineer or architect. As far as structural calculations go, the code goes by conventionally framed structures or structures designed by structural analysis. If the building is designed using structural analysis, per Wisconsin Code, it can be done by either an engineer or an architect. Really depends on your State. That being said, the only architects I've known that do structural calculations, have had a second degree in structural engineering.
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Old 07-08-2012, 04:44 PM   #10
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Around here the building inspector considers the Architect as the Designer of Record. It's up to the Designer of Record to determine if a P.E. is required, so whether the Architect does it himself or contracts with a Structural Engineer, it's his call. Most architects send all commercial and the unusual residential stuff to a P.E. for design.

Think about this.....many plated truss and TJI layouts are done by someone who has little formal engineering training. And they often know more about design than most architects.
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:02 PM   #11
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


In most states you need a PE license. This requires an engineering or architechual degree then work under a PE for 5 years then sit for the test. The catch is the disicpline you focus. For example I have a mechanical engineering degree so while I can do load calcs I cant legally sign off. A buddy has a Electrical engineering degreeand has a PE license but is not suppose to sign off on strucural load calcs since it is not in his area of discipline. He can but he will not do it under a code of ethics.
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:09 PM   #12
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


just gonna add onto what Chris said with something that well...Chris said.
With the generic tables for bar or lintel sizes the company expresses those with huge safety factors just to be sure that it will be appropriate in all applications, since its generic, nothing is site specific and therefore there is an opportunity for you downgrade a certain component for it to be sufficient in your specific application.
Like chris just said.
on smaller jobs it may not be worth it to re engineer but on large jobs your savings in time and material could and most likely would outweigh the cost of the engineer.
yea something like that
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Old 07-08-2012, 05:27 PM   #13
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Hi ScipioAfricanus,
I've gotta be in general agreement with what, Chris Johnson, and with FramingPro,
Smaller projects you may find don't require anything more than the tables and charts you can find at your local hardware store, whereas with larger projects, the Engineer would be a definite asset.

In a more detailed agreement, I'm gonna go with talk to an Engineer.
An Architect shouldn't be doing Engineer, based on a general overview of Architects/Designers. Each Professional has their place in the industry.

This being said only because I don't know the situation with your location you're building on, so I can't say use a table to design your own-stuff if you're proposed structure is sitting the edge of a river, or something along those lines.

Consult with an Engineer, and talk to your Architect, and see what they think about what you're planning on doing.
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:13 PM   #14
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Quote:
Originally Posted by thom View Post
Around here, all that depends on what the structure is. I have neither an architecture nor an engineering stamp or degree. I may provide basic engineering which the building department double checks. The most obvious are headers and simple beams. I must show the engineering calculations.

With engineered lumber, the software provided by the manufacturer is adequate. We must include the software supplied engineering printouts. The plans examiner double checks our work.

There was a time (possibly still, I haven't checked) when the engineered lumber manufacturer also included in their software engineering for dimension lumber. The plans examiner would accept that.

The plans examiner has the option of requiring an engineers seal if the application looks like something other than the standard run of the mill stuff or if engineering calculations are not provided with the plans.

On trusses we must have the manufacturer supplied engineer stamped drawing for each different truss. If the project includes 50 different truss designs/sizes 50 engineered drawings would be required. Of course these are the very same drawings the truss supplier builds the trusses from.
This is very much the way it is done here in California too.
I often do all the architectural and prescriptive 'engineering' for many of my projects here when I am allowed to by the local Building and Safety department.
Being as most of my work is done in seismic design category D sub0 I can only do single story stuff and that is only if there are no unusual circumstances that would need engineering. Rarely do the B & S depts. allow mixing of engineered and prescriptive, though some do.

I find it interesting how it is done in other states.

Andy.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:23 PM   #15
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Quote:
Originally Posted by katoman View Post
My understanding is that the first job of an Architect is to design. Structural calculations/specifications need to be done by an engineer.

Which brings up something I ran into last week - a carpenter friend is building a deck for an architect. The architect specified 2x6 joists, which is illegal here under our building code.

My friend called him on it, and he said "I'm an architect, I can spec whatever I want". He stamped the drawings, and the building inspector let it go.

I believe this is wrong. So my question is - can an architect overide the building code?
Around here they can.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:59 PM   #16
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


One of our local architects is in a court case trying to save his license...

The charge was something like 'impersonation of an engineer'
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Old 07-08-2012, 10:32 PM   #17
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


To the best of my knowledge & experience California requires a Structural Engineer wet stamp on any structural drawings...
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:37 PM   #18
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Quote:
Originally Posted by griz View Post
To the best of my knowledge & experience California requires a Structural Engineer wet stamp on any structural drawings...
Architects licensed to practice in California can and do stamp structural calcs. The below is excerpted from The Architects Practice Act of the State of California

the building official having jurisdiction shall
require the preparation of plans, drawings, specifications, or calculations for
that portion by, or under the responsible control of, a licensed architect or
registered engineer. The documents for that portion shall bear the stamp and
signature of the licensee who is responsible for their preparation.

It is in reference to structures that aren't exempt from the act.
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:45 PM   #19
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Maybe so...

The archy's I have worked with have all deferred to the SE & his wet stamp...
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Old 07-08-2012, 11:54 PM   #20
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Re: Can Architects Do Structural Engineering?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
Architects licensed to practice in California can and do stamp structural calcs. The below is excerpted from The Architects Practice Act of the State of California

the building official having jurisdiction shall
require the preparation of plans, drawings, specifications, or calculations for
that portion by, or under the responsible control of, a licensed architect or
registered engineer. The documents for that portion shall bear the stamp and
signature of the licensee who is responsible for their preparation.

It is in reference to structures that aren't exempt from the act.
I believe this refers to the two separate portions of mostly commercial projects, ie. the Architectural portion and the structural portion.

The architectural portion is usually the over-all aesthetic design, building materials expressed in the design, design for life safety issues like smoke screens, fire screens, guards, emergency egress, etc.
A lot of other stuff involved in all that.

The Archy has to sign and stamp all that and the engineer signs and stamps the structural stuff.

If the structural is capable of being taken care of by prescriptive means then the Archy or designer (like myself) can sign off that portion too.

New this year in California, any commercial TI architectural pages have to be stamped and signed by either an Archy, Registered Interior Designer, Engineer or General Contractor.

I will be renewing my GC license so I can take advantage of this.

Andy.

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