Structural engineers develop QC guidelines

April 01, 2004 |

Responding to what it views as a deterioration in the quality of construction documents, the Council of American Structural Engineers (CASE) has developed a guideline aimed at improving collaboration among Building Team members.

Entitled Guideline Addressing Coordination and Completeness of Structural Construction Documents, the 30-page document is structured into 10 chapters: Purpose and goals; Background; Responsibilities within the Design Team; Project Communication; Coordination of Documents; Completeness of Documents; Dimensions; Project Delivery Systems; Document Revisions; and Quality Management.

Ed Bajer, executive director of CASE, says the guideline was prompted not only because of the decline in document quality, but also a lack of uniformity among procedures used by Building Teams. "Builders and clients are using whatever is available as a quality guideline," he says. For example, some have developed their own, while others may use ISO 9000.

CASE says that since the mid 1990s, owners, contractors and design professionals have expressed concern about the quality level of structural construction documents. They say the quality of these documents has declined, resulting at times in poorly coordinated and incomplete design drawings, inadequate and/or incomplete drawings that may result in inaccurate competitive bids, schedule delays, a multiplicity of requests for information (RFIs), change orders and revision costs, and a general dissatisfaction with the project.

CASE says studies have shown that relative design fee levels have declined by as much as 20%, while the work required to produce a comparable project has decreased only marginally.

The guideline notes that as computer-based analysis has proliferated, so has the complexity of design analysis and code requirements. This makes it more difficult for less experienced designers to get a feel for the accuracy and adequacy of their design. Construction submittals often import digital design drawings, increasing the temptation to use them "as-is" without the checks inherent in older design methodology.

CASE says the guideline is intended to assist not only structural engineers, but also other Building Team members, in providing owners with a successful project. From a legal perspective, Bajer notes that the document is a guideline, and not a standard.

Copies of the guideline will be distributed at meetings throughout the country sponsored by the American Institute of Steel Construction. The document costs $30 and can be ordered at

CASE is a coalition for structural engineering firms within the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

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