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  1. #1
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    Default Referal Structural Engineer

    Can anyone give me the name of a good residential Structural Engineer in the St. Louis Mo area. I have a couple cracked and cracking roof rafters I have to get fixed and I want the correct solution so I don't have any problems when I try and sell my house someday.

    Thank you in advance
    FA

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  2. #2
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Not from your area but Generally, sistering the rafter with an equal or greater depth member should be sufficient, The question is why did they crack in the first place ?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Brody View Post
    Generally, sistering the rafter with an equal or greater depth member should be sufficient,
    "Generally" that description comes up way short of what is needed for a repair as it does not address many important aspects: a) length of wood each side of crack; b) wood on one side or both; c) size and type of nails; d) spacing of nails; e) nail pattern; etc.

    The structural engineer can specify all things required.

    If one is to repair a rafter without knowing the above, then "sister" a FULL LENGTH FULL SIZE new rafter next to the existing rafter, which is quite a bit different than what most people do when making repairs.

    Call a truss company in your area and ask them who they would recommend. It is quite possible that they use an independent structural engineer for their truss design (some of the larger truss companies have engineers on staff, others have arrangements with independent structural engineers as needed).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  4. #4
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    I guess I wasn't clear as we always replace the rafter full length ridge to plate. Sometimes the expense of bringing in an engineer is not justified as the cost of replacing a couple of rafters is not that much. And a full length rafter of equal dimension should perform as good as the original unless there is something else going on, IE structural changes, weight.


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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Brody View Post
    Sometimes the expense of bringing in an engineer is not justified as the cost of replacing a couple of rafters is not that much.

    Anything short of a full length full size rafter and the engineers cost is always justified ... it simply puts the repair into the "engineered" column and not in the 'contractor did it that way because they always do it that way' column.

    There are two needed letters from the engineer, one important, the other CRITICAL: a) the important one is the engineer designs the repair and specifies everything about it; b) the CRITICAL one is the engineer inspects the repair and signs and seals that the repair was actually done in accordance with letter a). Without letter b), letter a) has little value other than saying 'this is how it SHOULD HAVE been done'.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Thank you all for your response.

    I want a Engineer to look at the problem and document the solution. So I can give it to a carpenter so I can be sure what is done is the correct solution. I also want the document so I can show it to a home buyer someday when I sell the house.

    I should have said it was a split rafter since it has broken away from the ridge board and was hanging from the Roof sheeting.

    PB
    Yes, I figured that might be the solution to the split rafter. It split because a roofing contractor slammed the bundels of shingles down on the roof after I asked them NOT to. Their fix of the split rafter leave a lot to be desired.

    JP
    That is exactly why I am looking for a referal to a good Structural Engineer. Calling a Truss company is a good idea. I will see if there is a good one in my area. That is also a good point, to get a letter say the work was done correctly after the repair is completed. Thanks.

    The full story is:
    - I just bought the house this year.
    - I had roofing company put new roof on. the roofing contractor slammed shingle bundels down (split rafter)
    - One rafter split completely (Bad fix by roof contractor)
    - At least two rafters starting to crack.
    - Other rafters are good but would like to know if there is something that can be done (preventative maintenenace) to keep them from cracking.

    Thanks to all
    FA


  7. #7
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    If you want a engineer that is your choice.


    For such a simple repair a compentent contractor should be able to make the needed repairs

    The need for a engineer would be overkill, in my opinion, and a waste of money

    The cost of the engineer may equal the repair cost.

    I live in KC and in your area there are a lot of truss roofs. With a truss roof I would get a engineer, due to the fact that the information needed is not in the code book for repairs


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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    The house was old enough to need a new roof so the design was adequate. Sister full length rafters next to the existing damaged ones and add cross ties if not already present on the existing rafters.

    I don't (and most inspectors don't) look for engineer's (or architect) of record stamps and letters for every repair we observe.

    A competent contractor can repair what you've described quite satisfactorily.

    Just my humble opine...

    We know why you fly: because the bus is too expensive and the railroad has a dress code...
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    MG and SVH thank you for your response

    Both of you used the word "competent" and therein lies the problem. I as am individual do not have the knowledge to know if I have hired a "competent contractor". So when the job is done I am not sure the job was done correctly. I don't want this to come back and haunt me. If somebody screws up painting a room no big thing, but this goes to the structural integraty of my home. I would have thougt the roofing contractor would have been competent, but I don't think they were in there original work or the repair they did.

    I would rather pay the Structural Engineer and Contractor at todays dollars, because they will be more expensive 5 or 10 years down the road.

    I kind of figured sistering would be the solution, but as Jerry Peck points out, in a previous post, there are alot of aspect of sistering that I have no knowledge of nailing, pattern, type of wood.........

    Oh well thats just my feeling. Thanks again for your response

    FA

    Last edited by Frank Albanello; 01-24-2010 at 06:20 AM. Reason: mispelled word

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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    It is easy to say "sister it full length with a new rafter", something else to actually do it.

    I would not just assume a 10 or 12 foot rafter can be brought up through the attic hatch and be successfully installed as a full length sister. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there are few situations where it can. The sister will probably be shorter than the original rafter. So the strength will be in the fasteners. What size, how many, how far apart?

    Check out this rafter from the other day.
    These were actually site-built trusses, with many loose webs. The nails holding the 1X webs were coming loose.

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  11. #11
    Bert de Haan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    When Phil said "sistering" the rafter, I understood what he meant. You are not sistering if you are not going full length. Then it would be a "scab."


  12. #12
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Bert de Haan View Post
    When Phil said "sistering" the rafter, I understood what he meant. You are not sistering if you are not going full length. Then it would be a "scab."
    BDH: Not so. Webster's defines scab as "a short piece of timber nailed or bolted to to two abutting members to splice them together." So then a scab is how you support a scarf joint (splice) in a framing member such as a hip or valley rafter, et al.

    While Webster's does not contain the term "sistering" in the context in question, there are many references to the term on professional-oriented sites such as Journal of Light Construction that support the common usage of the term, which is to repair a damaged timber or framing member through the addition of a relatively short section of the same sized material along the side of the damaged area to achieve the required support.

    The term derives from the fact that sisters are supportive of one another, without the need to be twins or clones.


  13. #13
    bill cook's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Just get some baling wire and wrap the broken truss real tight (use plyers)and cover with duck tape. If a problem should arise or if the truss should collapse, tell them you got the repair method from an expert on the internet. Why waste profit on an engineer's report.
    William S Cook
    Public Adjuster

    Last edited by bill cook; 01-25-2010 at 06:47 AM.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    An inferior paint job might actually cost you more than the rafter repair if there were so many runs drips and overall shoddy work that you then feel you have to strip the drywall and re rock, mud and paint. Finding a competent contractor no matter what your course of action is imperative. As far as getting a full length rafter in place it is no party but can be done. Gable vents are good points of access but depending on the house design maybe impossible. If you do consult with an engineer make sure he keeps the accessibility issue in mind. I once had one suggesting digging down 9' in someones living room room to stabilize a column, when I suggested a helical pile he quickly agreed that would be a better route.


  15. #15
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Now in the case of john's rafters, a design professional is certainly warranted, but it's good that they recently insulated and did include the baffles,before they have to re frame the roof.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    You are correct "compentent" is not always a easy find

    A method I have used throughout the USA is to go to the supply house, in this case a lumber yard, (not Home Depot or =) and ask for a good framer/remodeler this usually gets a company that pays it bills and is doing good work

    And just a all contractors are not created = , 50% of engineers graduated in the bottom half of their class.

    I had a engineer require a 2x10x48" with 16d 1"x1" nailing patteren on a sister for a floor joist. In MO there is no SE,ME,EE only a PE this engineer was a waste water engineer. I called him and explained that i would end up with splinters and toothpick unsing this nailing pattern. His reply was, well do what you think will work.

    I have the eng and contractor agree on repairs, if you want this level of comfort.
    and use both


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Well PB after looking at JK's rafter I feel pretty good about mine, I may just leave mine alone.

    NOT!

    I realize there are good and bad in all professions, but I have to tell you as a home owner it is very difficult to find somebody I can trust. If I could find that one contractor I would give him at least 4 jobs. Rafter repair, Garage ceiling install, Kitchen remodel, sliding glass door install and deck construction.

    Thanks to everybody for your comments
    FA


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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    I should have said it was a split rafter since it has broken away from the ridge board and was hanging from the Roof sheeting.

    Thanks to all
    FA
    This statement makes me believe that the rafter if hanging below the ridge board. Pictures would help more than anything.

    If your situation is as I described, then you may need to add to the bottom of the ridge so other rafters will not do the same thing.


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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Frank, can you provide some pics?


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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    It is easy to say "sister it full length with a new rafter", something else to actually do it.

    I would not just assume a 10 or 12 foot rafter can be brought up through the attic hatch and be successfully installed as a full length sister. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there are few situations where it can.

    I've seen it done many times, except that ... one must open their minds to other places of access than just the "attic hatch" ...

    Take a soffit vent out, or a section of ventilated soffit, or ... and you will be surprised how long of a piece you can stick up into that attic.

    Been there, done that, many times.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  21. #21
    Richard Reynolds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    I would take the time and money to have an engineer take a look. If they failed under the load of the shingles being dropped. Can the with stand a heavy snow load?


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    RR
    They have held up to heavy snow loads for 40 years. I have contacted a structural engineer it will caost $700 for him to come out. Once I understand what I will get for that I will have him come out and make a report. He says he has contractor they use that can do the work. It will be nice to have a contractor on the same page as the Structural Engineer. Hopefully! Naturally I will have to get competing bids before I start the work. I am trying to get this done before summer.

    WC and NO
    I will post pictures of the cracked rafter when I get home tonight.

    Once I get the results I will let anybody who is interested know what action I am going to take.

    Thanks for your responses
    FA


  23. #23
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    $700 is way too much this should be $200-300
    Call Harry Morrell 314-223-7410


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    Can anyone give me the name of a good residential Structural Engineer in the St. Louis Mo area. I have a couple cracked and cracking roof rafters I have to get fixed and I want the correct solution so I don't have any problems when I try and sell my house someday.

    Thank you in advance
    FA
    If you want a good residential structural engineer in our area, call Dave Birenbaum at 636-300-0747 or 314-650-5200. He is also the immediate past president of the St. Louis chapter of ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors). He can do exactly what you are requesting. Also, I'm not sure what he'll charge you, but I'll bet he beats $700 by quite a bit.

    Last edited by Michael Chambers; 01-26-2010 at 04:21 PM.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    I have contacted a structural engineer it will caost $700 for him to come out.
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    $700 is way too much this should be ...
    It is VERY RARE that I agree with ANYTHING Stacey says ... in this case I am only agreeing WITH THE ABOVE PART OF IT ...

    That said, I have a very real suspicion that if one of these home inspectors, including Stacey, were to hear a real estate agent say "That HI is charging way too much" and "this should be ... " these guys would say something to the effect of "WTF right does that agent have to say anything about ... " their pricing.

    I agree that, for what you are describing, $700 is a bit steep, then again, you may be getting MORE THAN YOUR MONEY'S WORTH from that structural engineer as *I* used to charge A LOT MORE THAN OTHER HIs ... because I DID A LOT MORE THAN OTHER HIs.

    I would proceed as you stated ... "Once I understand what I will get for that " ... and ignore the rantings of those who say it should only be 200 bucks or so as they have no idea of what the engineer has in mind to provide.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    It's funny how we'll try to get as much as we can for an HI fee but will be quick say "$700.00 is too much for a structural engineer". Maybe the $700.00 SE would call the $200-$300 SE a low-baller.


  27. #27
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    As i have hired and fired more engieers than most, as a VP of construction for a retail chain, I understand scope of work quite well.
    I have already stated that a engneer is unnecessary, in my opinion. But if one desires to use one (and i speak as a adviser to the consumer, not as the bussiness adviser for the eng.) the least scope (a drawing) would meet this consumers needs.. This i know for a fact can be had in st. louis for $200-300 . Increase the scope increase the price.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    As i have hired and fired more engieers than most, as a VP of construction for a retail chain, I understand scope of work quite well.
    I have already stated that a engneer is unnecessary, in my opinion. But if one desires to use one (and i speak as a adviser to the consumer, not as the bussiness adviser for the eng.) the least scope (a drawing) would meet this consumers needs.. This i know for a fact can be had in st. louis for $200-300 . Increase the scope increase the price.
    SVH: Residential assessments in my area are around $300-350. About 75% of the engineers involved are not qualified to specify the method of the tying of shoe strings, much less anything to do with construction. A little research on many of them turns up the fact that they are electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, anything but structural engineers. The problem is that they can legally do any kind of engineering work so long as they hold themselves out to the public as being proficient in a given area. The honor system, how quaint.

    Several of them still arrive on the job with at 10-ft. straight edge to do existing (and new) slab-on-grade foundation evaluations, something that went out with the 80s.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    I have already stated that a engneer is unnecessary, in my opinion.

    Which seriously clouds your opinion on what the cost of a GOOD structural engineer should be.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    I have contacted a structural engineer....... He says he has contractor they use that can do the work.

    It will be nice to have a contractor on the same page as the Structural Engineer.
    Frank,
    If you were having a 10' opening put in load bearing wall, in the basement of a 3 story house, you would want 2 things.
    1) You would want a structural engineer to calculate and design this for you, and whatever he/she charged would be money very well spent.
    2) You would want a licensed contractor that works closely with the SE. Not only to insure proper installation but also to insure that the temporary walls/supports are adequate to support the 2 stories above during the construction.

    This what comes to mind when I think of a contractor and an SE being on the same page.

    When you have a split rafter (stick frame roof) I am with those who feel that an SE is extreme overkill. OK I guess the extreme part is just my opinion.

    When you have a split rafter (truss roof) then the money for the SE becomes a necessary evil, the fact that they are an engineered product will require that any repair or modification be designed by an engineer.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by chris mcintyre View Post
    When you have a split rafter (stick frame roof) I am with those who feel that an SE is extreme overkill. OK I guess the extreme part is just my opinion.
    What some of you seem to be missing is this:
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    I want a Engineer to look at the problem and document the solution. So I can give it to a carpenter so I can be sure what is done is the correct solution. I also want the document so I can show it to a home buyer someday when I sell the house.

    So he can sleep well KNOWING that THERE WILL NOT be a problem years down the road, and that a structural engineer *today* will cost less than a structural engineer will cost *in the future*.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    ...................... About 75% of the engineers involved are not qualified to specify the method of the tying of shoe strings, much less anything to do with construction. A little research on many of them turns up the fact that they are electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, anything but structural engineers. The problem is that they can legally do any kind of engineering work so long as they hold themselves out to the public as being proficient in a given area. The honor system, how quaint..........................
    While that is no doubt quite true, I would imagine that it would only be a much much lower percentage of the also-rans you mention who are willing to put their findings and recommendations on their signed letterhead. The legitimate and qualified ones have liability exposures possibly greater than ours, and will carry liability insurance and a sense of caution in what they are willing to stick their necks out for. A person would be wise to do what you suggest, a little research on them.


  33. #33
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    While that is no doubt quite true, I would imagine that it would only be a much much lower percentage of the also-rans you mention who are willing to put their findings and recommendations on their signed letterhead. The legitimate and qualified ones have liability exposures possibly greater than ours, and will carry liability insurance and a sense of caution in what they are willing to stick their necks out for. A person would be wise to do what you suggest, a little research on them.
    MC: If an engineer is working in the residential resale sector he is an also-ran. If you will give me $10 for each signed, stamped and dated letterhead report from one of these crackpots that I have in my file, I'll dig back through a decade of archives and post them here.

    Most of the worst engineers do not even carry E&O insurance. (It is, of course, required for HIs in Texas, but for no other professionals.) The slipshod engineers merely do 6 or 8 $350 white-wash inspections per day; sock half of that away in a defense fund; and pray that the courts cannot decipher the deeply jingoistic, fantastically obtuse, and poorly organized body of work that constitutes whatever one might construe as "residential engineering".


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    j peck

    I am some disappointed in your evaluation of this, I agree that each person has conforment level on any repais made to there home.

    But as a so called code expert you are missing a important point of why there is a IRC

    The code is written so that many systems and components (not all) for home can be designed and built using the code as a reference. The code has Pre-engineered, many items, Framing is one that is handled very well in the code.

    In Kansas the Eng. board has excluded 1 and 2 family dweling from the pratice of eng.

    The real question is can a code used to build and design new be used for repairs,
    I would say yes, and it has since the 1980s when the USA consumer started spending more on remodeling then cost of all new homes
    Remodelers use the code to add repair and upgrade every day


  35. #35
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    Everybody

    Please don't get me wrong. I don't want to spend $700 for the fun of it, but I don't know how I can know the fix is correct unless I get a person, who is suppose to know this stuff, to tell me what needs to be done (in detail). I like what MC said "recommendations on their signed letterhead".

    What JP said is exactly how I feel..
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    So he can sleep well KNOWING that THERE WILL NOT be a problem years down the road, and that a structural engineer *today* will cost less than a structural engineer will cost *in the future*.
    I talked to 2 SE the one for $700 talked to me and I had his complete attention. The other one was $475 and while he was talking to me he was filling his truck up with gas and going in to buy a burrito. Guess which one I felt the most comfortable with.

    I don't know how else to do it. That is why I asked, on this forum, for a referral to a structural engineer that somebody had some experiance with and trusted.

    Thanks for all you responses
    I'll let you know what happens in this continuing saga.

    FA

    Last edited by Frank Albanello; 01-28-2010 at 12:22 PM. Reason: added quote

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Referral Structural Engineer

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey Van Houtan View Post
    j peck

    I am some disappointed in your evaluation of this, I agree that each person has conforment level on any repais made to there home.

    But as a so called code expert you are missing a important point of why there is a IRC
    Stacey,

    You have COMPLETELY missed what has been going on here, as stated by the Frank himself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Albanello View Post
    What JP said is exactly how I feel.
    You are so intent on trying to get YOUR point across that you completely missed HIS information and question.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  37. #37
    Stacey Van Houtan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    I as well as others do give opinons on this site. I did not miss it i refered a eng and went beyond that with opinions.

    i got it


  38. #38
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    I frequently see damage caused by roofers (not slaters).

    They intentionally drop bundles knowing the damage they can engender.

    Some even pile up several bundles and stress rafters.

    How often do we find dried and flakey pulp paper in cellars?

    How often do we find dried and flakey pulp paper in attics.

    Hot attics can do the same to wood. Some weak timber is predisposed to crack when dry.


  39. #39
    Phil Brody's Avatar
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    Default Re: Referal Structural Engineer

    KB, I have worked with numerous roofers and know them well enough to say , they don't "intentionally " go to break things, they just don't care if the do, or they don't go out of there way to safeguard against breakage. Dropping a bundle of shingles shouldn't snap a rafter anyway. FA stated he wanted an engineers assesment and a followup to make sure the repair was done properly, so, two trips by the engineer and a report for $700 doesn't sound unreasonable for HIS piece of mind. As a licensed professional you are beholden-ed to do those things you are qualified. Acting outside the scope of your authority means you jeopardize your license.


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