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Old 03-29-2012, 03:03 PM   #1
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


I have a small bathroom in an old house and I am removing a cast iron standard tub and adding a corner unit whirlpool tub. (~1000 lbs filled according to the manual.)

The current joists are 27" apart and 1 is rotted.

A carpenter friend suggested using LVLs instead of standard lumber as I only have 6.5" of height for new additional joists. The joists would be 82"

Another friend suggested getting an engineer to figure out whats needed.

What kind of money does an engineer cost to do such a service? and is it necessary?
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Old 03-29-2012, 03:35 PM   #2
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


As an engineer, I like to push engineering services, but in this case you probably do not need one. A competent contractor with experience should be able to go to their favorite lumber yard and have them size the appropriate joists for your job. If the contractor is experienced enough, they may be able to size the joist themselves. Actually, they don't even need to size the joists, they just need to figure out the required spacing, which may be closer than the standard 16 inches on center.

Most structural engineers do not like to do residential work, myself included, because the average homeowner does not wish to pay what we think of as a reasonable fee (at least $500 is my minimum), and the work usually does not require engineering level analysis. You may also be able to get the building inspector to tell you the required spacing for the joists, but I think getting the contractor to desigh/build the job is the way to go.
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Old 03-29-2012, 03:48 PM   #3
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


Some lumber supply companies will do the design calcs. for a nominal fee (if you are buying the materials from them).
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Old 03-29-2012, 06:07 PM   #4
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


Ok, thanks for the replies.
As a follow up question:
I am attaching the LVLs to two large beams that look to be in good shape. Wouldn't the integrity and strength of those come into play as well? and if so how do you determine what they can hold, especially if you can see the other end of the beam? (the beams run outside of the bathroom and are not visible beyond that) (I have no reason to believe they couldn't support the joists, but just dont understand how that part could be determined long after the house was built, without knowing how they connect to the rest of the house or how the beams are supported)
I guess I understand the math on the joists(weight, length, joist size, etc), but how do you (or even an engineer) no what you can attach to an existing beam put into a house 100+ years ago?

Last edited by Velvis; 03-29-2012 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:40 PM   #5
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


just as a contribution to the thread.....

for a major addition I am doing myself I had an engineer spec the steel beams, beam connections, posts, connections to concrete, and rafter sister sizes for new dormers.

it was about 700 bucks, and i had to call around and find a civil engineering firm in between contracts...they basically had a head engineer come to my house to look things over, ask questions and take pics....then from there a junior engineer/fresh grad did all the work, and then all 3 of us met at the end to discuss and sign off.

when i pulled permits the office just charged me permit fee, no inspection fee (difference of about 500 bucks) and said "here's your permit, follow your plans, no inspection."

(detailed framing, electrical, and plumbing plans).....

they assumed I could connect the dots that i drew up.... not saying its typical, but my impression that they have enough time spent up inspecting what people "think" is right, where as if I followed my plans, it WAS right.

So in the end, the engineer paid for itself, and saved me a ton of time, not having to coordinate inspections.

I think they also thought if i came in with all that stuff i wasnt going to **** it up.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:52 PM   #6
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


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Originally Posted by jcrack_corn View Post
when i pulled permits the office just charged me permit fee, no inspection fee (difference of about 500 bucks) and said "here's your permit, follow your plans, no inspection."
Wow, how common is this scenario?
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Old 03-30-2012, 06:46 AM   #7
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jcrack_corn View Post
...when i pulled permits the office just charged me permit fee, ..... "here's your permit, follow your plans, no inspection."....
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexHouse View Post
Wow, how common is this scenario?
At times, we work with architect/engineer-designed plans (sometimes, with those individuals directly involved on some of the more complex projects) - and - I have NEVER run into that either.

Could be a small town thing ? (Example: I work primarily in (1) particular state, but live on the border of another state. My local small-town inspector is a finish carpenter with little, to no, structural experience and no license - as there is no state licensing program here).

Other factors (?) = Town budget cuts (Dept. understaffed)......or some other very strange fluke....

Very, very unusual.... and not very safe for anyone.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:16 AM   #8
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


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Wow, how common is this scenario?

Not very, at least in my neck of the woods.

I did my own plans and calcs for my addition, had them peer reviewed and stamped (I'm not yet licensed), and was encouraged to apply for a job with the building department when I brought in my plumbing iso's because the department head was impressed.....I still had to schedule all the normal inspections.

Plumbing and structural inspections were a breeze, they barely looked at my work. Electrical was more thorough, which is good seeing as how I have far less experience in electrical design/construction than I have in structural and plumbing.

The electrical inspector even noticed the 20A circuit I had labeled as "wife", then crossed out and relabeled as "dishwasher". He got a kick out of that one.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:51 AM   #9
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


We do our own plans about 60% of the time (mostly based on if we have the time available to create them). We do put a lot of effort into making our plans look professional, detailed, descriptive & correct with all necessary engineer calcs & stamps. That generally leads to less questioning, analyzing, and "nit-picking" over details - to get the permit.

However, regardless of plan quality - we have NEVER experienced a "no inspection" repsonse, when submitting, or being issued structural-work related permits. Never seen that in 28 years of dealing with the "permitting" end of the business (in many different towns, cities & states).

Granted, we have experienced: "I (the inspector) am not going to be able to make it out to the site in time, so just go ahead and proceed. You're allset....I trust you guys.....". But, that is all together a different circumstance.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:56 PM   #10
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


its happened twice in my life so far, lol.

once in a very small town, with great distances between houses, so I dont think they are too worried about a Mrs. Oleary's Cow situation from the public saftey standpoint.

And its happened once in a major metro area (1.5MM + pop)...where they did schedule the inspection, and as above, inspector called, had plans in front of him, and really couldn't/didnt want to make it out there. Asked a couple of questions and said "you passed."

I think it has a lot to do with homeowner as contractor...if a trade gets sued, and they can prove inspector passed them over the phone then the county will probably have at least some liability, and their is far more of a paper trail.

the bottom line is that the govt can do what they want, regardless of what the rulebook says.

And as i had mentioned above i know it wasnt a typical response from the permit office...i actually had the engineer involved for that reason too, I needed knowledge about how to properly support the structure, but I knew the small town yah-hoos might try to make me do stuff "their way" and I wanted stamped plans to say "no, see right here, this is how we are doing it."
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:42 PM   #11
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Whats involved with getting an engineer?


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Another friend suggested getting an engineer....
I only had to get an Engineer once and I lucked out by getting lots of additional info that at the I had not thought through.
I found the Engineer through an Architect friend.
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