Ethics- Looking for opinion if anyone has been in this situation?

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er220

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I am a licensed PE in the state of TX and I had someone ask me if I can mark up their property survey for their minor covered patio project. Their HOA is requiring it be signed by a licensed engineer. I am fully competent in this aspect but I wasn't sure if I am allowed to do this since I am not an established firm on my own? I would not be doing it affiliated with my place of employment...
Just looking for clarification or opinion if anyone has been through it. Thanks!
 

jeb6294

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You can stamp whatever you want. Generally, when you do it as part of a business, you're probably protected by the company's insurance.

Are they just wanting something showing where it's going to be to meet setback requirements? I've done something similar in the past when our church needed to get their building permit for a big multi-purpose addition. The company doing the building took care of the actual structure. They just needed someone to come up with the stormwater stuff for the building permit. That's what I was doing...literally, permit reviews for the County Building Dept...so it was no big deal. The biggest issue was finding someone else to sign off on the permit since I couldn't do it.
 

er220

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You can stamp whatever you want. Generally, when you do it as part of a business, you're probably protected by the company's insurance.

Are they just wanting something showing where it's going to be to meet setback requirements? I've done something similar in the past when our church needed to get their building permit for a big multi-purpose addition. The company doing the building took care of the actual structure. They just needed someone to come up with the stormwater stuff for the building permit. That's what I was doing...literally, permit reviews for the County Building Dept...so it was no big deal. The biggest issue was finding someone else to sign off on the permit since I couldn't do it.
Yes! They took their property survey and marked it up with the proposed patio to show that they are in conformance with setbacks but their HOA is saying they need to retain an architect or engineer and resubmit an actual "plan"
The entire structure design and details are already provided by the contractor. I don't even think they need any stormwater measures because the patio is already there they are just adding the "pergola" over it.
Seems crazy to me that the city approved the project but the HOA is holding them up.
 

er220

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Most do because if some legal battle occurs sometimes your work outside of your firm can still get pinned on your firm.
thanks for bringing this up. I will look into it. I wasn't planning on being compensated for this as I just want to help a friend get through his HOA process.
 

bwin12

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I am willing to bet money that the HOA doesn't actually require a PE stamp for this particular document. I'd recommend your friend read the HOA requirements and fight that battle vs. trying to find an engineer to stamp something that doesn't need to be stamped.
 

Reverse Polish

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I'd be extremely careful with this. Not only is it clear whether this actually needs to be sealed, but (1) the survey was prepared by someone not under your responsible charge (2) the design and details were prepared by someone not under your responsible charge and (3) you're proposing to not charge for your professional services.

The first two fall into the realm of plan stamping, which is a huge no-no in all jurisdictions. The third becomes important if things go pear-shaped, and an opposing attorney starts getting in your face about why you decided to accept professional liability without receiving compensation. You may also wish to refer to the ASCE Canons regarding the ethics of competition. Assuming this *does* need to be sealed, would not the HOA have to (otherwise) pay someone? That is, until you come along willing to undercut the market price? What kind of special considerations and kickbacks are you receiving for this favor? That's the kind of hornet's nest you're proposing to open.
 

East coast Engineer

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I have a similar question.


An uncle of my friend wants me to help according to him "he has got everything designed by an architectural/structural firm. He is looking for a small change he said but going back to the Architect is tooo expensive". At the same time, my firm doesn't restrict us from doing moonlighting. I am a PE and wanted to do something on the side along with a non-PE who has experience in the residential design field.

My questions are :
per ASCE code of ethics canon 2 part c " Engineers shall not affix their signatures or seals to any engineering plan or document dealing with the subject matter in which they lack competence by virtue of education or experience or to any such plan or document not reviewed or prepared under their supervisory control."

a. if i oversight my friend's calcs and ensure that everything makes sense should I then stamp the amended plan say the change to the patio or a wall etc?

b. Signing/stamping of one plan or portion of the plan would not make me liable for the whole house design? as I would only sign-off the calcs that I would check.

c. any other things I need to think about before deciding to take or not to take the project?
 

Reverse Polish

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I have a similar question.


An uncle of my friend wants me to help according to him "he has got everything designed by an architectural/structural firm. He is looking for a small change he said but going back to the Architect is tooo expensive". At the same time, my firm doesn't restrict us from doing moonlighting. I am a PE and wanted to do something on the side along with a non-PE who has experience in the residential design field.

My questions are :
per ASCE code of ethics canon 2 part c " Engineers shall not affix their signatures or seals to any engineering plan or document dealing with the subject matter in which they lack competence by virtue of education or experience or to any such plan or document not reviewed or prepared under their supervisory control."

a. if i oversight my friend's calcs and ensure that everything makes sense should I then stamp the amended plan say the change to the patio or a wall etc?

b. Signing/stamping of one plan or portion of the plan would not make me liable for the whole house design? as I would only sign-off the calcs that I would check.

c. any other things I need to think about before deciding to take or not to take the project?

Your state's Laws & Rules most likely have a paragraph pertaining to Successor Engineers. Read that.
Wherever your seal is affixed, you are taking ownership of that work.
If you have to think about it, don't do it.
Business and personal don't mix. You wouldn't stay at your job if the paychecks stopped coming, no matter how nice a person your boss may be.

This is just the approach I would take. Consult your attorney for better advice than anyone here could give you.
 
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