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Seismic Disclaimer

Discussion in 'Residential Seismic' started by David Henderson, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. David Henderson

    David Henderson Sawhorse

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    The following disclaimer was submitted with some plans. Have anyone ever had something like this before and if so how did you deal with it?

    This work is not intended to be Code compliant. It is the third of three alternatives for fixing this home’s foundation problems, and is probably not sufficient, although it will enhance the structure’s performance in moderate earthquakes, and could prove sufficient in a large earthquake
     
  2. David Henderson

    David Henderson Sawhorse

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    Sorry I forgot to say this is a voluntary seismic retrofit.
     
  3. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    David:

    Are these plans stamped by an engineer? Interesting situation, someone voluntarily wants to improve his seismic stability but does not want, or cannot afford, to comply with codes, are you going to stop him?
     
  4. David Henderson

    David Henderson Sawhorse

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    Yes they are stamped. The engineer is the one who put the disclaimer on them
     
  5. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    David:

    Don't take this as legal advise, do ask your City Attorney on this one, you are caught in the middle here, I'd say the engineer is taking liability by designing and stamping it, but if you refuse to permit it, an earthquake hits, someone is injured, you could be held liable on the theory: "But if you had permitted it the work would have been done and that person would not have been injured", the trap you are in is if you do permit it and there is an earthquake, someone is injured, you could be held liable on the theory: "But if you had made them comply with code that person would not have been injured". Were I in your shoes I'd be pissed at the engineer for putting me in this trap, definitely talk to your City Attorney, I doubt that Albany has a structural engineer on staff but do you have access to an outside structural engineer for consultation as to some kind of compromise to get the engineer to remove the disclaimer?
     
  6. jdfruit

    jdfruit Sawhorse

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    There are retrofit standards by the Fed seismic safety outfit that have varying degrees of retrofit quality. If the standard is clearly stated on the calcs and on the plans, it is recommended that the property Owner acknowledge that the design and final work product is at a level agreeable to the Owner. If the Owner doesn't agree to the safety level, then back to the design boards for the Engineer.
     
  7. linnrg

    linnrg Sawhorse

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  8. MASSDRIVER

    MASSDRIVER Sawhorse

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    Out of curiosity, how can a building department be held liable in any way if something isn't designed to code? I could build just about anything "better" than existing and not meet code. This engineer is not signing off on anything. He is flat out stating that his work is less than acceptable.

    Brent.
     
  9. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    This is a code compliant and is a very common strategy in the SF Bay Area and I assume elsewhere. Normally the engineer will not include a disclaimer on the drawings but will often include a statement that it is a voluntary upgrade. One needs to differentiate between a building that complies with the code requirements for a new building and what the code requires for an existing building.

    Such statements do not change the obligations or liability of the City.

    The City can only require what is required by the building code. The building code was developed with the understanding that in a major earthquake some individuals will be injured.

    Ignore the disclaimer and process the application. The building department and the City has essentially no liability.
     
  10. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Are the retrofit standards FEMA standards? I am seeing more and more buildings designed to FEMA standards around here.

    JD, have you moved up to the mountains and opened that shop yet? The Viper's been in the shop for 3 months now getting racing coilovers installed, at first I was getting all kinds of excuses then he admitted he was in bankruptcy, then he had to clean up around his shop by order of the landlord, then he had to clean out another space to sublet it, he keeps promising every day that he will get to it tomorrow, the sad thing is I've used him for 20 years for all my tire and suspension work on cars and trucks, he always has racing cars in there that he's building up, he claims a "bump steering" problem and has to determine if a generic racing kit can work, I found a set designed for the car for $1,200 and said I'd buy it but still getting excuses.

    The city is on constructive notice that the design is below code standards, if named in an action they can't rely on misfeasance. A question is which code standards? Generally acceptable engineering standards?
     
  11. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    What about accepting it with the provision that both the engineer and contractor put up million dollar liability policies naming the city as additionally insured with indemnification and hold harmless agreements?
     
  12. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    The building is not below the standards required for an existing building. The only thing the design is below are the requirements for a new building but the building is not required to comply with those standards.

    The city is concerned about compliance with the adopted regulations not generally accepted engineering standards. In fact from a negligence point of view standard of care exercised by the engineer is the issue not compliance with generally accepted engineering standards.

    The City has no authority to require liability policies from the engineer or the contractor. State law is very specific in stating that a jurisdiction cannot impose requirements that would limit the ability any engineer to work on a project in their jurisdiction.

    Ignore the disclaimer and process the application.
     
  13. conarb

    conarb Sawhorse

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    Ask your city attorney.
     

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