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Thread: Structural calc results vs. "usually done so" practice

  1. #1
    Associate Engineer
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    1

    Confused Structural calc results vs. "usually done so" practice

    What do you do when you have a required footing size and the contractor wants to make it smaller. 12"dia vs 15"dia for a deck post footing.
    This is indirectly connected to the "insurance" forum here. I don't cary insurance, I don't have enough work to pay for it.
    Do I give in? Do I believe in the "I have 6 more decks to come...."? There is so much safety factor in the engineering calculations that it would probably be fine but I don't really want to assume responsibility for the builder, even if he has done many of these. Frustrating.
    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Technical Fellow
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    1,043
    Hi Christian,

    I know it is poor form to answer questions with questions, but posit...

    Q:
    Who gets to pay for remedial work if the County Building Inspector rejects the work?

    Q:
    Who is signing off on the project as the Professional, Qualified and Expert Engineer?

    Q:
    Who gets to pay if the resultant owner of the deck is a member of the 350+ club and has thirty like-friends over for a BBQ and the deck collapses injuring a bunch of people?

    Q:
    Why is it called "Safety" factor?

    Q:
    Does meeting the contractor's demands jibe well with your perception of your own integrity and professionalism? You need to start out as you intend to finish.

    Q:
    Have you contacted the Building and Zoning department and asked them what they think about handing out a variance? You may want to mention the contractor's name so the Inspectors can keep an eye on his shoddy work. It is the end customer that will pay the cost of remedial work after the warranty runs out.

    Having started, run and sold a few successful businesses, I was given a Platinum-standard piece of advice in the very early days of my first business. "It is far better to send those clients to your very next and biggest competition. Sooner or later it will bite back and rather them than you."

    Making a fast buck on the promise of something is short sighted as I suspect that your client will go with whoever will gives them the lowest price for the next six decks. So my suggestion is, make your decision based on facts not on what might be.

    Just saying, ya know!

  3. #3
    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    777
    Very good advice Dave! I learned a similar lesson in my days in business. I put it like this: "Sometimes the very best thing that can happen for your business is for your competition to get the job."

  4. #4
    Civil engineers often reference codes and standards when designing. These are in place for a reason. If the code calls for a minimum footing size as and as long as what the contractor is proposing is or greater than the minimum then all is good. If not, I wouldn't compromise.

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