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Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,917
Likes: 29
I don't want to clutter up Bot's thread

Originally Posted by SteveFehr
Originally Posted by gfretwell
From my experience (in Florida), the "guidance" will be "bring us engineered plans". The strange thing is when you get to the engineer he will be working off some handout outs from the state, (not doing any real calculations).
I don't know why the building department won't just give you the handout.
They probably could, but there are always caveots and exceptions. So, they require it be engineered, trusting the engineer will know where the standard details can and can't apply, and will engineer the proper solution for each job. Most of the time, if it's simple, it'll be the standard drawing or a very close derivative.

I was totally underwhelmed by the "engineering" process. This guy just rooted around on his desk for handouts from the state, laid them down on his big copier, burned me some pages and stamped them.
The weakness in this system was pointed out by my mason and the inspector since there were lots of irrelevant details and some were conflicting. In the end the inspector and the mason both agreed my original hand drawn plans were better than the sealed and signed set but they weren't "legal".

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,442
Likes: 2
Cat Servant
Underwhelmed by engineering? Why am I not surprised.

One very educated gent I know asserts that the worst thing that ever happened to engineering was the advent of CAD/CAM programs. You no longer get a guy, who simply HAS to think about the job as he draws it out ... you get a guy who makes a few mouse clicks. Sure, you get the prints faster, but they're filled with errors.

Even prior to the computer age, I was distressed by what I considered an over-emphasis on handbooks and generic drawings. For all the emphasis engineering school places on math .... I doubt most engineers ever use a calculator after graduation (unless it's at tax time!) I do know the the last several I've spoken to have completely lost any understanding of calculus that they once had - pretty amazing, considering the emphasis on calculus in engineering courses.

Changing direction for a moment: In the past several jobs, I have been amazed at the 'special inspections' required by the city. Framing issues that, in the past, were easily handled by a journeyman carpenter now require an engineers' evaluation, and special inspection. It seems that if you vary by one iota from a standard handbook print, they want reams of documentation on every detail.
Parallel with this change, the city no longer has trade-experienced inspectors. Rather, there is a legion of seminar-educated "certified inspectors." The emphasis is on paperwork - not trade practices. Or, for that matter, proper design and engineering. It's all about the paperwork.

Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
I am sure there are good, competent, and energetic engineers out there. I just haven't run across any of them.

I cannot begin to calculate the hours I have spent correcting errors made by $300/hr idiots who basically phone it in. Sure, I bill for my time, and work is work, but I always feel bad for the client.

Here's the kicker: They CHARGE the client to correct their mistakes.

...I think I'm in the wrong business

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,442
Likes: 2
Cat Servant
Zapped, I do feel your frustration ... trust me! Yet, it was not my intent to turn this into a 'flame engineers' thread.

There are several directions this can go ... but I believe Greg was expressing his frustration at being to required what amounted to little more than a catalog page with an engineers' stamp. It seems silly for the AHJ to not recognize the teacher (the source material), yet recognize the student (the engineer). The data is the same, even if the contractor is the guy who found the catalog in the first place.

It's too easy for the petty bureaucrats to insist on more paperwork - to cover their laziness and lack of training - especially when YOU are the guy who has to pay the bill.

In the original post light thread, I described what I recall I did a few years ago. My dimensions may have been slightly off. In any event, different areas have different practices; I am sure the poster is familiar with the soils in his area, and can make it work just fine.

All I can say for certain is that the post light I described, placed in the side of a mountain, has survived frequent hurricane-force winds, arctic winters, and several minor 'earth shakes.'

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 599
JBD Offline
Has any one ever complained to their state's licensing board?

Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,917
Likes: 29
I think a huge part of our problem here in Florida is we have moved so fast and so strong on beefing up the building code that nobody really understands what it means, Calling for engineering is just the way the building department is passing the buck. The engineer passes the buck to the state that gives him "typical details" he uses.
One issue I had was an 8x16 concrete beam 14' span. The engineer told me that 4 #5 rebar in this would carry any load he could reasonably compute in a single story house (just the roof load) I had spec'ed 2 #7s in the bottom and 2 #5s in the top. The handout from the state said 4 #7s and 2 # 5s so that is what we did.

I was just not sure why the building department couldn't just tell me that. This beam is smaller than the one over a 2 car garage door and I bet they permitted 1000 of them since the 2006 addendum to the code.
I even needed engineering for the slab footer and that is probably 75-80% of the houses they build here. The Mexicans who worked for my mason knew how to form and steel the slab.
When I talked to the plans examiner she said all structural concrete needs engineering, no exceptions.

BTW my electrical plans sailed through. I took some comfort from that wink

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 482
Sorry Reno, I shouldn't let me get started!

I am in total agreement about the bureaucratic paper trail that is created, and it seems to be to nobodys benifit except for the engineer.

A plan should be reviewed on merit, not a stamp.

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,723
Likes: 1
Broom Pusher and
Injunears - who needs them!!!

Wait, I are an Injunear!!! smile

I am just as angered by Engineering Firms inserting "Boilerplate" Blocks and XREFs on Plan Pages, as you guys are!
And don't get me started on the attitudes of some Injunears! That is an all day tirade - full of hot air and flames!

There are some Engineers out there, they still exist and do competent work.

As to the subject of CAD - vs - Hard Copy work:

While I use a CAD Application to create my Designed Project's Plan Sheets, I do not use it for Engineering.
The CAD Application is only a very compact Drafting Tool, much easier to use as compared to the Hard Copy work I performed many years ago!

The Tools I use for Engineering are mainly custom Spreadsheets, developed over the years.

The information and data resulting from the Spreadsheets' work is entered into the CAD drawn Electrical Sheets + Databases.

As to the use of Common Drawings (Blocks or XREFs) for things like Pole Bases, we have archived about 30 different Pole Base details for various Poles that are commonly used on our Projects, per the normal Wind Load zones.

If we deal with a Pole that is different than "normal" - be it taller than 25 Feet, has an unusual Fixture layout, or will be installed for a higher Wind Load Zone, I will obtain the required data and edit an existing Detail Block - saving it as a new Block.
Hence the evolution of more and more Blocks!

Don't get me wrong - I fully identify with the issues discussed in this thread!!!

Back in 2005, I was given a Design to include an optional Diesel Generator.
Was asked to perform the Concrete pad Engineering + Drafting too.

Went through many texts to arrive with the necessary Seismic design criteria regarding the Pad and the Generator's anchoring.

Planning Dept. would not accept my work, because I did not have the appropriate Stamp (PE Stamp).

The Planner really wanted to accept it, because it was clearly drawn, properly noted, and exceeded the minimum compliance - but without the Discipline Specific Stamp, it was merely a well drawn party favor!

Had to commission an Engineer to submit the properly stamped documents - which were nothing more than Building Department Hand-Out Bulletins on one page, and the results of a Spreadsheet on the other page.

The Engineering Firm charged the Client $4,500.00 for Three Stamped sets, mailed to me (not submitted by them to Planning).

I supplied them with the necessary information.

Their calcs just barely complied with the minimum requirements.

I submitted the Documents to Planning (same Planner, whom was sickened by the entire story).

My price for the _COMPLETE_ Plan Set work (Concrete, screening, Seismic Calcs, Electrical drawings, Vendor consultation and Plan Check Submission):

The Engineering Firm price for 10 minutes of work, use of the copy machine, and mailing 6 documents:

Talk about Pissed-Off!!! I am definitely in the wrong Business, as far as generating profit!

Nevertheless, through the many somewhat similar scenarios encountered in my career, my "Drafting Ethics" along with my Engineering Ethics are still the same -
* Put as much information possible in the Plan Set;
* Keep the information concise and understandable (not an easy task for me!!! wink...);
* Include relative notes;
* Draw things so they can be seen (avoid hiding things);
* Call-Outs for relevant information and details made so they point to the proper items,
* Detail Sheets with details that are used on project (not several sheets with every detail known to Man, lacking the ones really needed);
* Panel + Circuit numbers at each device / load;
* Fixture type Call-Outs at each Fixture;
* Fixture Schedules with "useful" information, along with quantity;
* Panelboard / Distribution Schedules with proper detailed information - including device quantities, ratings and specifications;
* Scope of Work details on cover page;
* Building layout with locations of Panelboards, Transformers and Service Equipment (along with Building related information such as rated corridors, room numbers, specific rooms, etc.);
* The information people in the field really need!

My intentions are to generate the most accurate set of Plans, which are easily read + interpreted by all involved - which includes the following:

A: The Plans Examiner (this is where code issues need to be discovered and rectified - not in the field!);

B: Estimators (smooth take offs and quotes generated - this includes myself, plus 2 others at the Office);

C: Project Managers (includes myself once again!!!);

D: Our Superintendents;

E: Field Fore persons;

F: The Journey persons in the field.

Things get better with each Plan Set.

OK, Tirade over, and stepping off the Soapbox!


Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!

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