Engineering know-it-alls

Status
Not open for further replies.

Fulthrotl

~~Please excuse the mess. Sig under construction~~
The project is for my home town, population ~500. The GC lives across the street from me. There are liquidated damages of $1k/day for late completion and he wants to keep things rolling quickly. I am very careful in picking my battles. The money for a change order is hardly worth the paperwork. I emailed the engineering firm and have documented their responses. The 2nd time I emailed them I included specific code references.

They haven't been called on any of these items in the past (in other small, under-trained jurisdictions), and see my efforts for code compliance as an intrusive inconvenience. On the other hand, it is my friends and neighbors who will be servicing the equipment & I care that it is done right. It isn't about money on this one.

I really just wanted to blow a bit of steam and see if anyone knew of an exception to the above items in case I missed something. Thanks again.
the first paragraph contains your answer.... we are talking about 1
disconnect1 here, right? raintight? single phase? and a switch in a bell box?

smile, nod, put them in, mention to the general (your neighbor)
that they were overlooked, but you included them anyway
to make sure there were no hangups at inspection time.

mention to the inspector during the inspection that they were
omitted from the plans by oversight, but you put them in.

smile, nod, and go to the bank...
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
the first paragraph contains your answer.... we are talking about 1
disconnect1 here, right? raintight? single phase? and a switch in a bell box?

smile, nod, put them in, mention to the general (your neighbor)
that they were overlooked, but you included them anyway
to make sure there were no hangups at inspection time.

mention to the inspector during the inspection that they were
omitted from the plans by oversight, but you put them in.

smile, nod, and go to the bank...
Yup. Plus they should have been in your bid anyway.

Our local city inspectors may or may not have missed these details but the State would not have. Either way, you are responsible. Our SED charges reinspect fees to the EC, not the engineer, architect or owner.
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
Yup. Plus they should have been in your bid anyway.

Our local city inspectors may or may not have missed these details but the State would not have. Either way, you are responsible. Our SED charges reinspect fees to the EC, not the engineer, architect or owner.
Exactly It is our problem as EC in the end. These EE know it and don't give a darn. Then we have an EE in this forum that claims special circumstances.

What I find most disturbing about this discussion, is who is the one acting like the know-it-all?

Contacting the engineering firm the first time to point out an apparent oversight is a good thing to do. However, when the answer in return is that the building department had approved the plans and the design was correct as-is, indicates that it was not an oversight. Doing it a second time further confirms that it was not an oversight.

Instead, the OP, in his know-it-all ways, has chosen to override the approved and engineered plans, and re-engineer his own plans without knowing if there are extenuating circumstances or a specific variance in place for a reason. None of us are part of that engineering project, and so none of us have the scope of knowledge for this project to be able to say that changing those plans didn't introduce some problem that was previously addressed by the original design.

The original design may be flawed.....but it may also be correct and for a specific reason.

What the OP has done is wrong. It oversteps his scope, knowledge, and responsibility. It has also opened him up to increased liability. If that design existed for a reason, and his circumvention of the design results in property damage or personal injury, he will be the one responsible for it.

Even if the OP's assertions were/are correct, his response of re-engineering the design on his own was wrong. His plan of waiting around so he can "tattletale" to the inspector is not only childish, but further exemplifies the typical mindset of someone that is a know-it-all, not necessarily the engineer, as the OP claimed.

If the OP wants to cover his backside, he should write a formal letter to the engineering firm describing how he changed the design on-site, and find out if his changes are approved or detrimental. Not telling anyone that he changed the design leaves all liability on his shoulders.
Where in the code book does it speak of " special circumstances"
In all my years I have nevers seen any code section that allows a violation due to special circumstances. Especially in a stuation such as this.
 

satcom

Senior Member
the first paragraph contains your answer.... we are talking about 1
disconnect1 here, right? raintight? single phase? and a switch in a bell box?

smile, nod, put them in, mention to the general (your neighbor)
that they were overlooked, but you included them anyway
to make sure there were no hangups at inspection time.

mention to the inspector during the inspection that they were
omitted from the plans by oversight, but you put them in.

smile, nod, and go to the bank...
Yup put them in and if the disconnect was not required due to a process safery concern a lock can be put on the disconnect, the exhaust fan may not be a missed item I notice most of the new fractional hp exhaust units have a small switch mounted on the fan frame assembly, so no big deal if he put in a disco
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Exactly It is our problem as EC in the end. These EE know it and don't give a darn. Then we have an EE in this forum that claims special circumstances.



Where in the code book does it speak of " special circumstances"
In all my years I have nevers seen any code section that allows a violation due to special circumstances. Especially in a stuation such as this.
I agree. If there were to be special circumstances they should be noted somewhow as well as the reasons why, and AHJ should approve before you just go ahead with it. I may hate to say it but engineer probably does have right to design for special circumstances, but just omitting something that is generally expected without any apparent reason why just looks like he may have made a mistake. How is installer or inspector to know there is special circumstances if it is not noted in some way?
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
I agree. If there were to be special circumstances they should be noted somewhow as well as the reasons why, and AHJ should approve before you just go ahead with it. I may hate to say it but engineer probably does have right to design for special circumstances, but just omitting something that is generally expected without any apparent reason why just looks like he may have made a mistake. How is installer or inspector to know there is special circumstances if it is not noted in some way?
Well stated, Thats exactly what I am getting at. I cannot see any legitimate approvals on such deviations from code without explanation. The mere fact that the OP states that the plans were approved and that is that leads me to the typical arrogant person unwilling to deal with a possible mistake or problem.
 
The slow, ongoing decay of good EE plans

The slow, ongoing decay of good EE plans

I've been doing this for 30+ years. If I had $100.00 for every time I've been in a meeting, discussing things that were left off of the EE stamped plans, I wouln't still be working, I wouldn't be putting money in an account in the Cayman Islands, I would own the Cayman Islands.

The most classic EE statement is: "Well, it had to be done anyway, so the Owner would have paid for it anyway if it was on the plans, so the Owner will pay for it now" and then he looks at the Owner. Sometimes that is 18 months after he drew the plans and 12 months after the job started. Or the EE draws site and service entrance plans based on what SCE does, but the job is in LA DWP land ,or Burbank, or Pasadena. No owner anticipates that the EE won't know what the POCO will be demanding, yet the EE often does not submit to the POCO, and simply writes a CYA waiver that "all bidders shall comply with all POCO requirements, and include all POCO fees, costs, etc." even if the POCO takes 6-8 weeks to provide those fee rqmts. and the bid is due in 2 weeks.

Starting about 25 years ago, I dedided to bid the plans exactly per the drawings and specs, and then list the ommissions and corrections that would be required to install the plans to the current NEC and all other applicable codes--list them in generality, with out costs per line item, and clearly state that they were not included in the bid I submitted. I have been very pleased with the results, many GC's or Corporate Clients get that "heads up" on bid day and the fact that I forwarned them at bid point, instead of playing games, lets them know I am being upfront and fair right from the start. Often they get other bids with no such warnings, and after calling the other bidders to ask why the E & O weren't listed as excluded, I end up in a meeting with the Owner, GC and (often pissed off) EE, and I'm the only one who is asked to submit a "complete, compliant bid". That's when I hear the EE say the above phase so often.

Doesn't the EE understand that the Owner wants the full, accurate price at the start of the bid award, not a long running battle of blame placing over the term of the buildout? I wish once, just once, an Owner would require an EE to accept responsibility (as in "Pay For") for any Errors or Ommissions on the plans, instead of passing the buck to the EC. Then we would start to see really complete, detailed, and yes "perfect" plans again, and the phone book specs frankensteined from 10 previous projects would be properly reviewed and edited to fit the project being bid.

In this era of word processors and CAD drawing, EE's could use those tools to make each project's drawings/specs really align with the project needs. But noooooo--all I ever hear is that the Owner beats the EE up on the pricing to the point that there is no money for proper plan review and coherent specs---and anyway, the Plan Checker will catch it, and if he doesn't the EC has to be smarter and more detail oriented than the guy sitting on his ass in an air conditioned office looking at a computer screen and with access to all the codes at his fingertips.

Excuse the rant--but this is why 90% plus of my work is design build now. (And yes, I have a BS in Nuc Engr. from 1974). If I'm gonna do the EE's work, I might as well be the EE. And to hear the EE's tell it, they don't get paid very much anyway--the Owner gets exactly what he pays for.
 

sameguy

Senior Member
Location
New York
Occupation
Master Elec./JW retired
Like Lee said, I bid a service 500mcm 3phase. followed the print /spec.. Both said ,call the POCO elec. pays all bills, I meet turns into an underground service not over head; I end up $10,000.00 high! Later I talk to the guy who got the job and it went underground, he got that part as an extra!!! I had on my bid called out the spec/print about the POCO and told them price was inclusive. Turns out I was the only Co. to call the POCO. I now bid only as shown.
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
Every contractor I've ever met has had to pay for things that were overlooked, not up to expectations, or in error. That is, the contractor bought the parts, paid his crew, etc., for making things 'right.' Often, even the hourly troops paid - by working free.

Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever been on a job where the "design professional" had to pay for the work? Not just to draw a few lines on paper ... but to pay the contractor for his work?

"I'm the engineer, you are a peon, just shut up and do what my all-knowing royal personna tells you to do" is an attitude that can be cheerfully returned to India - or any other place with a caste system.

I've nearly reached the point where I wonder just what it is "design pros" do, besides send out bills. The drawings are cranked out of a CAD program, often by some felon who learned 'drafting' in prison. The offices are devoid of any personnel who have the slightest knowledge of any trade. It's a funny thing ... when I need to ask the plumber or roofer something, they're at most a phone call away, and often on site. Yet, every time I try to contact the 'design pro' they're not available until, maybe, a 'meeting' can be arranged, often far away. RFI's? Apart from the delay (at least a week), the REAL response is for the 'design pro' to suddenly require "submittals" for EMT, THHN, and drywall screws.

I suppose I ought not be too hard on them; after all, these arrogant attitudes are the very first things they're taught in engineering school - followed in advanced courses in CYA. When you encounter a "good engineer," it's almost always someone who has been out of school long enough to 'un-learn' that codswallop and develop some respect for the SKILLED trades. That's quite a bit of progress; engineers are taught that you can look everything up in a book- and the concept of 'skill' is directly counter to that belief.

It's best to treat them like precocious children; they've all seen the cartoons, but have not ever actually built anything. That they have the gall to take credit for the accomplishments of the trades is a sin.
 

stevenje

Senior Member
Location
Yachats Oregon
Doesn't the EE understand that the Owner wants the full, accurate price at the start of the bid award, not a long running battle of blame placing over the term of the buildout? I wish once, just once, an Owner would require an EE to accept responsibility (as in "Pay For") for any Errors or Ommissions on the plans, instead of passing the buck to the EC. Then we would start to see really complete, detailed, and yes "perfect" plans again, and the phone book specs frankensteined from 10 previous projects would be properly reviewed and edited to fit the project being bid.
A question for all of the EE's out there. When you get hired (and paid) by a client, do you tell them that the prints that you engineer will be 100% complete and accurate? I would hope so. After all, isn't that what you are being hired and paid for?
 

satcom

Senior Member
A question for all of the EE's out there. When you get hired (and paid) by a client, do you tell them that the prints that you engineer will be 100% complete and accurate? I would hope so. After all, isn't that what you are being hired and paid for?
I never knew an EE was able to seal a print, we always had a PE do it and never had a problem with them, they were all did a professional job, and helped all our guys get a better grip on the project requirements.
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
A question for all of the EE's out there. When you get hired (and paid) by a client, do you tell them that the prints that you engineer will be 100% complete and accurate? I would hope so. After all, isn't that what you are being hired and paid for?
I don't think they do!

Like Lee said, I bid a service 500mcm 3phase. followed the print /spec.. Both said ,call the POCO elec. pays all bills, I meet turns into an underground service not over head; I end up $10,000.00 high! Later I talk to the guy who got the job and it went underground, he got that part as an extra!!! I had on my bid called out the spec/print about the POCO and told them price was inclusive. Turns out I was the only Co. to call the POCO. I now bid only as shown.
Is it possible that the awarded contractor knew someone. Did you ever think that this whole game is a ploy to get either the person they really wnat to do the job or someone they can grind all the way to the bank. I don't see your issue as a accident. The way i see it if the EE who won the bid was able to get a extra for work he should have checked on prior to bid this alone is fishy. All the GC needed to do was show the lowest bid which yours was not. The CG knew he would have to deal with the extra and just maybe get if for free. If the GC had to pay the extra and intern charge the owner for the extra it probably would be no different than your price in the begining. The CG will take such a gamble every day of the week.
i have had to deal with this for years. If I put coveats or conditions I get the GC's estimator telling me he won't use my bid because it's not clean. You just cannot win this way. You need to be the EC they want to use regardless.


I never knew an EE was able to seal a print, we always had a PE do it and never had a problem with them, they were all did a professional job, and helped all our guys get a better grip on the project requirements.
Here in Ca a licensed EE can wet stamp prints. They can be from another state too. What is crazy is the laws in this state do not apply to a EE that stamps a print for work in this state.

Just to note all of the scenario's that were mentioned by others I have personally been a part of. I have never heard of a EE submitting plans and making deviations from code based on "special circumstances" with or without the direct knowledge of either the owner, GC, Plan checker , or inspector. Many folks like to give others the benifit of making a mistake. When I see these mistakes over and over again The patern is arrogance and maybe cost savings.
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
I took a look. From what i see there is no reasonable way that a EE legitimatly deviates from a code without proper paperwork.
For a EE to make a claim that the EC was not privey to the specifics of the design is completely perpoesterous and without any merit.
 

Sierrasparky

Senior Member
Location
USA
Occupation
Electrician ,contractor
I guess those EE that frequently use the tool of "special circumstances " very liberally don't want to chime in as to how they can use it without the propper paper work.

You could chime in annonymously.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top