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What does a PE stamp get you?

What does a PE stamp get you?

What does a PE stamp get you?

(OP)
My firm sold an industrial system with some heat exchangers, ladders, and platforms, along with the support structure that runs to the ground pads.  We had an outside engineer, who is a PE review the designs.  All drawings were provided to him in Autocad format.  He made a number of required changes to support member sizes and locations and added additional supports.  He also changed the way some of the connections were made, making some connections welded and upgrading the hardward grade used for bolting.

So we make all the changes and he approves the final drawings.  Then some of our internal management gets involved and determines that we need a PE stamp for the state that the equipment will be installed in, which ends up costing us 50% more just to get the stamp.  The PE seriously did nothing but take the same drawings and stamp them.

I should mention that the PE was already located in the same state as the installation job site.

So, did that stamp actually serve any real purpose?  Why hadn't we done our due diligence by contracting and paying the PE for his services?

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Same as what you get from a doctor who is legally registered practitioner vs. a non-registered or insured, even if both had the same experience and scientific knowledge.

Plus having a registered PE as the designer may be a statutory requirement for good reasons, discussed umpteen times on this website.

Meeting legal requirements does not necessarily assure quality, but minimized liability.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Just to make sure I understand the story--same guy did the review at first without stamping, then charged 50% more to stamp?

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

My opinion is that charging you 50% more in order to stamp drawings already prepared under his direction is unethical and perhaps illegal.  The stamp doesn't make him any more responsible for the work than he already was.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

His initial design work should have already been sealed/stamped.

www.PeirceEngineering.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

It sounded to me like they paid a second engineer in state to stamp the plans, which he didn't prepare. If I was in a bad mood I might light him up with his state board.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Was his name (not just initials) appearing on the drawings or correspondences identifying him as the Engineer of record? or your company was using his services but not his name?

If he was identified originally on the original drawings, I would agree too, it is unethical to charge additional money. But not otherwise.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

(OP)
Okay, I'll answer a few questions.

First, yes it was the same engineer who did the engineering calcs that ultimately provided the PE stamp.

Second, my company was not listing him on any drawings, but there was official correspondence going back and forth between our company and the engineer where he was giving directions on the needed modifications and approvals for drawings.

His name and/or initials were not being provided on any drawings since he was just being used as a consultant to verify the design drawings.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Then I think you got a deal! Plus 50% of what? 50% $2000 is lot different than that of $50,000. If done with right ethics, each projects adds to premium of liability insurance for life!

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

I continue to disagree with others here.  He did the work...he is a Professional Engineer...he is responsible for the work, regardless of whether his stamp appears.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

There is a difference in being irresponsible or unethical and charging for assuming more exposure and liability. There are no laws as to what to charge or how assess your own risk.

The engineer has all the rights to charge extra for additional request of any kind. especially, if the discussion earlier was (I presume) that sealing and signing would not be required. The Owner is also not completely blameless in thinking that they would get away without having a PE stamp to begin with. They sought for it only as a after thought.

 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Seems like the first part of the project was providing design review and advice / recommendations. Then the second part of the job was review and approval of the drawings. Sometimes clients want advice and other times they want the engineer to step into the line of fire and accept responsibility as EOR.  There is also added cost in printing, signing, sealing, liability, etc. to account for on something like this.

Look at it this way...in the first part he was helping you with YOUR design.....in the second part it became HIS design.

ZCP
www.phoenix-engineer.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

(OP)
Okay, so I appreciate all the feedback and comments.

Just for everyone's information, the initial charge was $3000 and there was an additional $1500 for the stamp.

Also, so we're all clear, the company did all of the design drawings using in house engineering.  The comments from the PE review were related to adding a piece of structure here and there, changing a connection from bolted to welded, upgrading hardware specs, and such.  So he did not actually do any drawings, just review and comments on modifications for the company drawings.

It does sound like the consensus is that he might be liable anyway without the stamp, but the stamp makes it official.
 

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

You got off cheap for $1500.  The EOR can now be personally sued if there are any issues with the design or construction, whether or not they are his fault.
There is a big difference between providing a few comments and sealing drawings, especially if this is in an industrial setting where licensure may not be required.
On the other hand, the PE probably should have known that a stamp would be required.
It sounds like an inexperienced project manager may have been involved and did not properly understand or communicate the total scope of work to the engineer.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Seems fair to me. You sought his help, he quoted, did the work and you paid. You made a second request, he asked for  extra compensation, you paid (because you had the need for whatever reason). I do not see any issue.

If you don't like the fee, that is an entirely different issue. It certainly is not a rip off. Imagine, how much it would have cost you had he just declined and said, "I do not need $1500 but I would not sign it as it was not the agreement!"  You also have the option of not hiring him again. He obviously does not see that as a threat. All seems even to me.



 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

(OP)
I'd like to address something that rbulsara brought up.

I am not complaining about the total costs or even an additional fee.  I think the costs are reasonable.

My original question was this:

We had already contracted and paid the PE for engineering services that he had provided back and forth in writing via email.  Then someone in the company thought, hey, just to cover ourselves we should make sure those drawings are PE stamped.  Please note the same PE ended up providing the stamp and he was already located in the same state as the jobsite.  

So just to clarify again, my question was related to whether the company actually gained any additional liability protection by getting the drawings "stamped" versus not knowing that the same PE had already approved the drawings and the design in writing, but just hadn't provided a "stamp" because we hadn't requested one.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Yes.  It would be very difficult, even if possible, to hold him responsible for something you presented as your design without his name or signature on it. Regardless of what you have in your documentation. If he did not stamp the drawings, he can always say the drawings did not have his "final' approval and you may have revised the design afterward. He can also say that not all of the design was his and he only reviewed parts of it or something along that line.

By stamping, he officially owns the entire design, even yours.

Once a matter goes to litigation, all ethical logic go out of the window and the outcome is only dependent on who has shrewder lawyer and not necessarily who is right or wrong.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Anything possible and I'm not a lawyer, but;
Your company almost certainly gained some liability protection from having a PE seal on the plans.
Without the seal, the plaintiff would sue only your company.  You would then turn around and sue the PE for damages that you suffered, meaning extra lawyer time and possibly an additional trial.
Now that you have the PE seal on the plans, the plaintiff would likely sue your company, the PE's company, and the PE individually.
Assuming the PE's company has professional insurance, the most likely outcome in the case of a negative decision against you would be some monetary split between your company and the PE's company with no additional suits involved.
 

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

He charged you $3000 to review the plans and comment on them, and $1500 to assume future liability for the design.  

Seems cheap to me.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

(OP)
Yes, we felt it was reasonable.  He is a friendly engineer who we've worked with for years, so I guess we got the friend discount.

I'll say that you guys have been great and I've learned a lot.  Going forward, we'll pay the extra money for the "stamp" and I'll keep my wrong opinion to myself, since I didn't think it mattered and I was clearly wrong.

Thanks again to all of you.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Count us among friends too. I believe that you are a very reasonable person with a big heart. I am sure I will learn a thing of two from you as well.  

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

As hokie66 noted, he is responsible for his engineering work, with or without the seal; however, jgailla correctly points out that with the seal, the path to his responsibility is shorter.  On some projects, sealing is not required.  If this happened to be one of those projects, then he could effectively hide under your company's umbrella....with the seal, he doesn't get that luxury.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

I would gladly pay $1500 per project stamp for any of my projects to an outside PE.  That limits our liability a lot.  Having a PE stamping plans is a pretty big deal.  We have had a lot of people ask for us to sign their plans and we don't even piggy back on jobs with someone with a bad design, because a can of zombie worms will open up on you.  These zombie worms feed on money.

Civil Development Group, LLC
Los Angeles Civil Engineering specializing in Hillside Grading
http://www.civildevelopmentgroup.com
http://www.civildevelopmentgroup.com/blog

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

From an fantasy island where Shakspeare set his Stormy play, I'd hobserve that being able to shove off the entire liability for the faults in a design to some unlucky othere, legally and forsooth, for 1500 shiny silber pieces, seems cheap and good value.



 

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies  http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

There was no way for him to know whether or not further work/alterations/additions may be performed by someone else after he advised on what he saw.  

The seal basically formally signaled the work has been finalized & no further modifications or additions would follow.  

To assume a PE should not be involved in giving advise at any stage other than the absolute final stage is rather inflexible.

RE: What does a PE stamp get you?

Some state regulations require an engineer to sign and seal or stamp all engineering works (calcs, plans, etc.) that are prepared.  If the engineer tweaked you design and drawings, he did engineering.  It probably should have been signed and sealed or stamped initially.

www.PeirceEngineering.com

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