Stamping residential plans or small commercial projects as a structural PE and sole practitioner

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Glenn Meadows

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Nov 12, 2023
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I am a structural engineer with 40 years experience.

Wanting to shed light on young engineers and my thoughts on working for architects. Most architects look to work with engineers, pay their consultants bills on time and respect the expertise we bring to the table.

Here's something to think about. Most of us know enough to put a set of working drawings together given an architects conceptual design while understanding the primary responsibilities of an architect being the Life Safety Code, the Energy Code and the building envelope. But here's the thing. It's important that we all play in our own sandbox so unless it's a salt shed, we let the architect do their thing. The same goes with architects doing structural work. They know the basics of what engineers do but if it's anything more than reading load tables they should call us. Here's the problem, just with any group or profession, there are bad actors, so beware. If an architect tells you that they'll do all the structural drawings and ask that you just give them the member sizes and then stamp the the drawings they prepared, try not to laugh and just walk away. It is unethical to stamp any drawings that have not been prepared by ourselves or those who we directly supervise and it works the same the other way being that architects should not be asked to stamp architectural drawings that we, or anyone else, has prepared

Don't let anyone take advantage of you by looking to spread out their liability while paying you a few hundred dollars. If this happens to you, politely tell them you're not their charity case. You worked hard for that PE. Also, demand one percent of the construction cost for a fee or you'll never grow your business. E&O is expensive. Be careful and good luck.
 
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