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Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Suggestions to protect my practice in case I find some things that will make the original engineer look bad to the owner and GC?   

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Engineers like doctors often can have a difference of opinion....

Who is communicating with whom??  Can you talk to the original engineer.  Maybe he made an hoest mistake or read something wrong or differently than you do.  Maybe you can collaborate on an "updated" version.

However if there is no communication and an obvious blatant life threatening error - then you need to speak up - and maybe even to your local board.

However - if it seems it might be a "matter of opinion" you can use words along that line to your client saying you would prefer to do it a diffrent way.

And then call your lawyer....or call your lawyer first...

Always a touchy situation.

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Assuming the engineer you are reviewing cares about protecting the safety and welfare of the public:

Review your fellow engineer as you would have them review you....which is accurately, fairly, and with respect.


RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Actually, JAE's advice can apply regardless of if his premise is true or false.

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

No life-safety issues, just an overly conservative design.  I was brought in from the GC's side to look at foundation options for sign structures. Running my numbers (with the design forces noted in the original engineered drawings), the footing design is just ridiculously over-designed that I would make the original engineer look bad (even if that is not my intent). I haven't told the GC yet about my results and asked him to get permission from the engineer.   

The original engineer works for one of the biggest AEC companies here in the US so I'm just concern about their clout. The way I look at it, the one that can afford the best lawyer wins so I don't even want to go there.

No signed contract yet, just a verbal agreement. I guess the best answer is to simply decline the job and just eat the time that I already spent?


RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

I think there is a difference between a peer review and what you have been asked to do, which is essentially value engineering.  Not an ethical difference, but a practical one.  Peer reviews are normally commissioned by the owner, and the firm doing the review is preferably a "peer" in terms of clout as well as knowledge.

If you are correct in that the footing solution is inappropriate, I wouldn't worry about embarrassing someone.  Tell the contractor, then talk to the other engineer.

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

First, as a professional courtesy, inform the other engineer that you have been asked to review the information and will provide a report to your client.  You have no obligation to provide a copy of the report to the other engineer.

Do what you, in your opinion, consider to be an appropriate solution to the issue.  If the other engineer's opinion is different, so be it.  You are being asked for the proverbial "second opinion".  Give it and don't worry about the consequences. You have no increased liability for disagreeing with another engineer.  Your liability comes with your solution and whether it is workable/successful.

Never, Never, Never be intimidated by the size of another firm in any of your dealings. Size does not equate to competence.  They cannot sue you for a difference of opinion.

By the way...I agree completely with JAE's suggestion.

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

Hokie, not once did the GC mentioned value engineering. I think he is savvy enough to avoid that term as I would have said no outright. What I have been asked to do is look for possible options without any mention of what's being the cheapest. I checked the engineer's original design on my own to understand what I'm dealing with and that's how I came up with my conclusion.

I don't have the full story right now but I'm guessing the original engineer is not being receptive to providing options that's why the GC went out of his way to get a 2nd opinion.

I must admit I'm intimidated by their size due to the resources available to them. If they really want to screw with me, they could always file a frivolous lawsuit just to keep me occupied and away from my actual work.

Anyway, thanks to all for responding.


RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work


What are your concerns with Value Engineering?  It is done on many government projects.  Done it myself.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
Motto:  KISS
Motivation:  Don't ask

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

I work for one of the largest AEC firms in the country.

Oftentimes, if our designs are ridiculously conservative, it's because we were given a ridiculous timeline and/or incomplete information as to what's actually being placed on a footing, etc...  The conservative design is the price the client pays for having something out the door at a moments notice.  Believe me, it's not something I'm proud of, or something I like to do. (That's a whole different thread on the current fast paced project environment).  That may or may not be what happened here.

Value engineering comes with the playing field when you're playing with the big companies.  We don't take offense.  People do value engineering on our designs, and we do value engineering on other peoples designs.  It's just part of the competitive environment.

I seriously doubt that the large engineering firm will come after you personally.  They may haggle a little bit and try and meet you in the middle.  They may get their panties in a bunch and refuse to listen to you, but they won't go after you legally or try to attach your reputation.   

RE: Protocol for peer reviewing another engineer's work

In this case, I don't think the OP is reviewing this work for the same client as the other engineer.  But certainly the other engineer has to be contacted, just perhaps not as the first step.

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