Friday, September 2, 2011

Re: Hey, I got a friend...

See…now you have delved into the can of worms that I lived in for a while.

I won't bore you with the long version.

The short version is it is a friggin' mess. There is no one answer. For all you "States' Rights" folks (sorry if this starts a political BS firestorm, enjoy it…because of the rights of the states, they can all do their own thing…and they more or less do.

Basically, you have to figure it out of each state that you want to do work in.

In my situation, I started out just looking at Michigan. Michigan has an exception like in your #2. So, that raised the question of did the company (a timber framer and SIP company) that I worked for fit that exception. In general, such exceptions are meant for the likes of Ford Motor company or other companies that build "widgets". Those "widgets" don't need to be designed by a PE. It becomes much less clear when you start talking about things like timber framers, SIPs, steel fabricators, precast concrete folks, etc. They are doing building elements at best, but typically doing more than building elements…doing actual parts of the building design. So, my honest answer is that I don't know if such folks fall under the exception or not. I did call the State AG's office to see if I could get a "ruling", but they blew me off. Basically, I believe that Michigan has a "formal ruling" process where you can send the question to the board, but it takes time and money.

But, the fun may not stop there. If you are lucky, then they say you meet the exception and you don't need to seal such stuff. In theory, then you should be fine. But, then you have to deal with EOR's requiring that the steel shops or SIP shops, etc be sealed. So, even if you meet the exception, you might have someone else want them sealed. Or you may not meet the exception. Either way, you now might have to "practice engineering" (i.e. seal the drawings…either because your company did not meet the exception or the EOR required sealed shops)…but you now likely run into the COA stuff and more importantly the PE ownership rules. Take your friend's case…he likely is the only PE…or one of a few…but likely none of them are "owners" of the company. What if the company is a publicly traded company? You just got hosed by the ownership rules.

The end result is that I don't have any good answers…just more questions and confusion. And since I left that company a while ago, it is not something that I have to worry about anymore, even if my nerdy side also kind of finds it an interesting, if perverse, topic.



On Sep 2, 2011, at 9:52 AM, wrote:

> On September 1, 2011 at 10:41 PM Scott Maxwell <> wrote:
> > You should tell you friend that he should tell his company to go read the PE laws in the state they practice in and/or talk to a lawyer that specializes in construction/engineering stuff. Such COAs are specifically called out in the PE laws in the various states, so it is NOT just a "business license fee".
> As a follow-up. I find this an interesting topic.
> 1) The rules in the few states that I've checked - WA, NE, FL, TX, NJ - all mention the requirement for a firm offering engineering services, to have a Certificate of Authorization or the like. None of them specifically mention having an office in the state, but on the other hand they don't address it in any way (had it been me, I would have said something like "regardless of the physical location of the engineer's office," etc.) Why do we think that it's for all states for which the work is sealed? (Just playing devil's advocate).
> 2) My friend now tells me that because the company also fabricates whatever widgets are being installed, they reason that they come under the heading of "manufacturer" and are thus exempt. However, they appear to be performing engineering for selection and detailing of the installation of the widgets per the code requirements, typically for the contractor (similar to a joist manufacturer who does specialty joist design for unusual loads, moment resistance, etc.) How does that affect things, if at all? Should the company even be required to seal and sign their engineering packages in that case? What do the joist manufacturers do?
> Regards.

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