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Old 04-10-2009, 02:09 PM   #1
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Hello Everyone!

I recently applied for a building permit to make a second story addition to my house. Before applying, I spoke to the city and asked what I need. Upon their recommendations, all the structural modifications to the roof trusses were designed and stamped by an engineer.

Engineer told me that city engineer is a former employee of their firm and I will get permit no problems.

I applied for permit, they said everything looks good but in the last moment they called me and said that my foundation might be weak and requested for extra engineering.

My contract with an engineer clearly stated that foundation certification was not included. Why would he put it in unless he expected this form the city and kept silent?

Plus city engineer told me that he wants inspections to be done by the same engineering firm and wants me to pay for it!

This is a total nonsence, I can understand a foundation part but do they even have a right to ask me to hire a third party inspector? and especially the same firm?

I think in this economy engineer doesnt have many clients and uses his friends in the city hall to bring in more business. He gave me a teaser rates in the beginning and now wants even more than original fee.

I dont know if they gonna stop, they can start asking for soil testing, excavations etc etc.

What can I do at this point? My project is already over the budjet and if I am building an addition, it doesnt mean I have tons of money. In facts, we are doing the work ourselves to save on labor. We can not afford to feed the engineer on every stage of the project, especially unnecessary.

Anyone had similar situations? Please advice!!! We are really lost!
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Old 04-10-2009, 02:38 PM   #2
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You have to meet their requirements
What did you request from the engineer?
Why didn't you request the existing foundation be certified to carry the additional weight?
If the city accepts the engineered plan without foundation certification then they would partly be on the hook if it failed
Same with the engineer.

Where are you located?
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Old 04-10-2009, 02:47 PM   #3
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I can only speak of my experience. I've done a fair share of residential structural engineering jobs, and I don't know the people at the towns from Adam. I can swear that in court. In nearly EVERY case in 2008 where my seal went on a drawing, the town requested two things. First, that the engineer of record (EOR) perform an inspection and attest that the construction was performed and built as drawn. Not to code, mind you. As drawn. Second, that adjacent structures and systems be inspected for integrity.

To me, that's a liability issue. In my opinion, the town is looking to protect the property owner and protect itself from liability. And that's not even restricted to residential work. I did a design for a school roof last summer, and I got a call two weeks ago that they wanted me to come out and inspect it to make sure what was installed is what I designed. Good thing, too (well, not for the contractor). It wasn't. Not even close. And I did a storm water system a few years ago where the same thing happened: it wasn't built per my plan. Town wanted me to inspect it and approve it. I couldn't approve it, because it was done wrong.

Your experience does have some weirdness to it. I can't say what's going on there, though. And it does seem odd that the town said they "think" the foundation is weak. It's not odd that they said "use this guy", because he's the EOR for the addition.
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:34 PM   #4
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I live in Kentucky and this is my first experience with a permit process.

However engineer should have told me that foundation can be an issue since he is an experienced guy and knows what they need for a permit. And he promised me it will go thru without any issues.

I asked him to do a truss system only since that was what city asked for. Since truss was an originally engineered component being modified. Engineer verbally confirmed that the rest of the structure doesnít have to be engineered and my plans are sufficient.

Existing foundation was built to the code minimums for a single story building and does not meet requirements for having a converted attic since it now needs to have a 2 story minimum thickness. Thatís why city asked me to have a certification issued by an engineer, to make sure that footers under two outside walls will be able to take the load.

I always thought city is supposed to inspect the work and there is no fee for it unless reinspection is needed. Why city inspector cant compare the actual structure to the engineered plans? Is not what his job is? How many inspections can they request?

Also can they start asking for a soil testing etc? Engineer told me that current foundation is sufficient for the new load even if he takes a lowest value of 1500psf for the soil and promised to issue a written certification within a few days but for a fee which equals 50% of his original fee for the whole truss system design! How come a 1 line calculation, can cost half of the truss system? I can clearly see bad original intentions here.

But what can I do at this point? Cancel the project? Walk away to another engineering firm? I donít have that much money to give away for nothing and not even dare to imagine what they gonna charge me for the inspections.



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Old 04-10-2009, 04:07 PM   #5
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The city has the right and the responsibility to require certification ensuring that your foundation is adequate to take the imposed loads. The city inspector cannot and should not assume the liability for making that determination himself because it opens the city up to some serious responsibility in litigation. Requiring an engineer to approve the condition is normal and should be expected. Honestly, it tells me that the city is really on their game and that should be appreciated despite the cost that you incur.

The fact your engineer says he knows the process has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that you errantly believed him.

I do think it is inappropriate for the city to require the same engineer to evaluate the foundation. Although there are issues that require the engineer of record to do the work, I don't think that's the case in your situation. The engineer you have can design the structure and another engineer can take his design and determine if the foundation elements are adequate to support it. I'd call BS on the city and ask for verbage in their codes or ordinances that would prohibit you from using another engineer to evaluate the foundation.

You always have the option of abandoning the project if you haven't started it. The costs associated with the project are yours and yours alone to assume unless you have a builder making your decisions under contract.

The city may or may not charge for inspections in addition to permit fees. Inspection costs are typically fairly small. That totally depends on their fee structure and local ordinance.
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Old 04-10-2009, 06:46 PM   #6
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Yeah, foundation concerns sound to be valid to me. Looks like engineer was not 100% honest with us, but as far as paperwork goes he is clean and there is nothing we can do about it.

City usually does inspections and there is no fee unless they need to reinspect. Why would they ask me to hire a third party inspector? This is ridiculous, city inspector should be able to certify if the structures were built up to the specs or not! Over wise she is completely useless and should be digging tranches instead of doing inspections!

I just cant believe that inspector cant look at the plans and certify that all the work was performed according to them! This is a part of a building permit and thatís what I was told initially by city official. Why would they change their mind suddenly? Obviously after talking to my engineer and figuring out a way for him to make more money out of thin air!
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baleworker View Post
Why would they ask me to hire a third party inspector? This is ridiculous, city inspector should be able to certify if the structures were built up to the specs or not! Over wise she is completely useless and should be digging tranches instead of doing inspections!

I just cant believe that inspector cant look at the plans and certify that all the work was performed according to them! This is a part of a building permit and thatís what I was told initially by city official.
You have already been told the answer to this
The city will not certify a structure to hold the adidtional weight
That would mean they are liable in case of failure
They can't & won't accept that liability
They were built up to spec - to hold a 1 story house
You want to add a 2nd floor, that requires an engineer to evaluate & sign off that it will hold the additional weight
Most inspectors are not engineers
It's not part of a building permit, it's part of the design plans
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Old 04-10-2009, 07:51 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
You have already been told the answer to this
The city will not certify a structure to hold the adidtional weight
It's not part of a building permit, it's part of the design plans
I guess I was not very clear and you guys misunderstood me. Inspections they are asking for, have nothing to do with foundation.

I am not expecting the city to certify a foundation, what I expect them is to certify that the new structure is built according to engineering drawings.

And they want me to hire an engineer for that! They want a rough in inspection to be done by an engineer! This is a city inspector's job!

Last edited by baleworker; 04-10-2009 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-10-2009, 08:16 PM   #9
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Ah, OK
I haven't heard of that
Where are you located?
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Old 04-10-2009, 10:13 PM   #10
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Where are you located?
Midwest, KY
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