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Letter of Compliance

Letter of Compliance

Letter of Compliance

Got myself a little ethical conundrum.

Had a contractor call yesterday saying they didn't get inspections during construction and not the county is asking for a letter of compliance from the EOR. I wasn't on-site once during construction so this is an obvious problem. The contractor has relatively detailed inspection reports that include pictures pre, during and post construction. They don't show everything in great detail but I can get a pretty good idea what they placed and where.

Now the real issue IMO. We have an electrical rack that consists of cantilever columns supports by concrete piers off a shallow spread footing. The plan clearly show CIP headed anchors for this element. Pictures in the inspection report show the piers placed with no anchors. So either they wet set the CIP anchors or used some sort of post installed anchor.

My PM is thinking we can write a letter saying they appear to be in compliance with the construction documents. I'm telling him I can't really do that because I know they aren't in at least one instance. That makes me ask myself what I'm not seeing. Makes me really uneasy as this is a remote gas facility so there are obvious dangers.

It's also really tough to just say no because this obviously negatively effects our client. What have others done that have been in a similar situation?

RE: Letter of Compliance

Had a similar situation with a high school addition.

The contractor had failed to notify the special inspector when they reinforced and grouted masonry wall cells. The walls made up the primary lateral shear wall system.

The construction manager (agent for the school district) asked me to write a letter saying the walls were "OK". I told them I couldn't do that as I hadn't seen the grouting operation, etc.
They insisted I do so. Big kerfuffle.

Eventually we had a meeting and I explained that I couldn't write such a letter saying it was OK as I didn't know that and thus would be simply lying....which I couldn't do.

We ended up requiring the contractor to provide some localized demolition to open up the CMU walls to show several instances of reinforcement, laps, grouting, etc.
With that I felt OK to write a letter saying exactly what we found in the demo exposure and that based on that evidence, one could conclude that the other reinforced cells were similar.

In your case, you should investigate the anchorage and as EOR assure yourself that the public safety and welfare is satisfied. This may take some time and effort....possibly some demo/research into what type of anchorage they exactly provided.

As far as this extra time/cost - it is entirely reasonable that you be compensated for the additional time - who exactly pays for this is another matter of course.

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RE: Letter of Compliance

JAE, thanks for the response.

Little update to this situation. We sent an email to the contractor highlighting a couple areas where they were obviously non-compliant with our construction documents (CIP anchor rods not cast-in-place for example). We asked for clarification on what was done. It's been three days and radio silence from them. We've sent a couple follow-up emails asking for response and nothing. They were responding quickly up to the point we emailed them for clarification on the non-compliant construction.

At this point I'm considering writing a letter to the county and State board requesting my stamp be removed from the project. Is that something that is reasonable? Do we try to engage the contractor another time stating that will be our plan if they continue to ignore us?

RE: Letter of Compliance

Call the contractor, emails are easy to ignore when they know they f'ed up. I'd work with them to resolve things, remedials, etc to get to the point where things are resolved to your satisfaction. Walking off doesn't help solve anything for your client.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Rabbit12: be strong! Be practical and sympathetic and don't be pedantic, but if you don't have the basic information to write a letter they can all get f*cked. JAE's response is correct.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Soapbox follows....

Project managers are concerned about three things....meeting schedules (first priority), being on budget (second priority) and satisfying the client (done if 1 and 2 are completed)....has nothing to do with the technical aspects of the project. Agree with JAE....don't do anything that compromises your integrity or your engineering obligations to satisfy the whims of the project.

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RE: Letter of Compliance

Update: Last Friday I got some engagement from the contractor. They admitted they installed the incorrect anchor rods. After the conversation it seemed they were willing to work with me to test the anchors to ensure capacity.


Friday I had a frank conversation with our internal PM and basically told him this needed to get resolved and talked about the end game (letter to the AHJ) if it didn't. At first he brought up the damage to the client relationship, etc. but by the end of our converstation he saw where I was coming from. I definitely want to help the contractor and the client so the end game would be an absolute last resort.


I'm not going to give in. Not how I was molded. About the last thing I want to do is tell the contractor to f off.


I'm not sure I could agree more with what you wrote. During my conversation with our internal PM I asked him what our ultimate duty is. I got a blank look and had to explain it's the health and welfare of the PUBLIC, not our client. Another guy in the meeting tried saying we already did that by showing the contractor the non-compliant anchors. Took me awhile to make him see alerting someone with an obvious cost conflict to do right isn't exactly satisfying our duty.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Quote (Agent66)

Friday I had a frank conversation with our internal PM and basically told him this needed to get resolved and talked about the end game (letter to the AHJ) if it didn't. At first he brought up the damage to the client relationship, etc. but by the end of our converstation he saw where I was coming from. I definitely want to help the contractor and the client so the end game would be an absolute last resort.

If the client relation is going to sour because you won't lie to cover up mistakes then they're not a client you want anyways. They'll act like they appreciate it now, but that's easy when it gets them out of a jam. If anything goes wrong down the line they will absolutely turn it around on your company for writing this report that said they were fine. They'll say they never asked you to lie, assumed you were doing your due diligence as required by board rules/state law, and are appalled that you would fabricate this report even if it helped them because it's important to do things the right way. Forget ethics, it's a bad business decision. You'd be sticking your neck out and unnecessarily opening yourself up to additional risk for a client who almost certainly would not do the same for you in return.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Its always my attitude with these things (and life) that honest mistakes happen, and we shouldn't blast each other's heads off when they do. I strongly believe that if you are sympathetic to people as you are telling they need to rip up their work, and are finding ways to make it easy, everyone concerned will be ok.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Honest mistakes do indeed happen, but if the consequence of that mistake is that something might come crashing down when it's not supposed to, you are sure better off fixing it first!

Certainly one course of investigation can be whether the way it was built is good enough. This is where your honest independent engineering opinion comes into it.

RE: Letter of Compliance

Is your PM a registered engineer... can he provide the certification? If not, why not... you are in the same situation.


RE: Letter of Compliance

I tend to find that customers appreciate being told the truth, up front, particularly if it's bad news; the fact that the contractor can potentially do some testing to mitigate the screwup is a bonus.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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