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Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design
3

Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

(OP)
I am a civil engineer that specializes in civil engineering design in a niche specialty where we need approval from a small regulatory agency. My clients, the property owners, often engage us and do not want to have any direct contact with the agency that needs to approve our plan; they want us to deal with the agency.
The agency is insisting we provide an email and phone number of owner to "copy them on comments". This agency also has a list of engineers they basically recommend. In past projects, the agency has contacted owners directly without us included and asked questions and provided comments. Sometimes this confuses the owners and basically mucks up to the process. I am telling the agency my clients hire me with the understanding that they then do not have to talk with the agency but they refuse to proceed with design review.

What are forum members' opinions on my validly of trying to insist that I am the sole contact, as the owners have requested?

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

Technically speaking, it is the Owner’s responsibility to comply with XYZ regulation. They have though hired you to “make sure that happens”. I would just talk to the client and let them know that they will be included/copied on all official correspondence. However, you will be answering the questions/comments and no action is required on their part unless you specifically contact them.

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

2
MiddleCE - Talk to a lawyer and/or read for yourself about a "Limited Power of Attorney". Your client can legally authorize you to act on their behalf on any subject they choose, including representing the client before the regulatory agency. Looks like you are in California, here is info on that state's requirements: Link

The form is simple to complete, I have done this myself on one occasion.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

@SRE....good idea!

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

Thank you, Ron. The limited power of attorney worked like a charm, too. I was representing a family member (not present at the meeting) who would be negatively impacted by a project seeking a permit. Because of the formal, "legal" paper work provided, the permitting board took my input seriously. In the end, the board overruled their own staff's recommendation and denied the permit.

www.SlideRuleEra.net idea

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

@SRE....good outcome. Your common sense prevailed!

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

I don't have any experience here, so please correct me if I'm mistaken (or ignore me outright) - the Power of Attorney option sounds like a good option, but one to run by your insurance carrier first. While it may seem like that's what your client has hired you to do anyway, the regulating body doesn't see it that way (legally) and your insurance company may not either. Sticking your neck out a little further to make it more convenient for your client at this stage may leave you on the hook if they fail to abide by the regs later, and your insurance company may say it isn't covered. That could be painful.

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

What happens when an owner doesn't have an email address? I assume its rare... but it happens

Never-done-before-idea:
Could you create an email address that forwards all email to you and the owner? this way the agency has a communication too for sending stuff directly to the owner and design team at once. You comply by providing that 'direct to owner'. And you get to maintain control of the conversation. You could probably even ask the client to have their IT create a rule to send all incoming email from XYZ@really.com to a folder so it doesn't flood their inbox. seems like unnecessary work but maybe not too painful and less legally putting you on the hook for everything.

RE: Owners representative and submittal of civil engineering design

Shielding the ownership of a project during permitting can be dangerous. I'm in the ring right now with CA re: "SDG&E obligations to EIR's"

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