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Institution Forums > General > An ethical issue View modes: 
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Member (MIStructE)
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Phil Wardle - 28/04/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Richard, I'm confused. On one hand you take pity on clients who suffer appallingly bad designs that do the minimum to get approval, and on the other you moan about clients who refuse to pay. I don't condone appallingly bad designs, but neither do I think the code of conduct requires we allow ourselves to be screwed over fees in the interests of a public that doesn't see the value in what we do. Yes we can educate them, but that won't change attitudes of people who want something for nothing. I'm talking about playing equal hardball with clients who have no qualms about reneging on fees. Thanks

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Mr Richard Harris - 01/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Phil, I agree with you that we should, as you say, play hardball with clients who try to take advantage of us. The issue that I've been banging on about is the wider one of our role in the construction process, versus our role as perceived by much of the public. When we carry out a design, we are required by the code of conduct to look after our client's interests. This means producing a design that not merely gets Building Reg's approval, but that meets the best compromise between being economical to build, serviceable, durable, aesthetically acceptable, etc. Clients typically want to employ the engineer who quotes the lowest price for carrying out the design, probably because they don't understand that we are providing them with advice, rather than us being just another sub-contractor. There are some engineers who just do enough to get approval. That is an ethical issue.

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Member (MIStructE)
Member (MIStructE)
Phil Wardle - 03/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Yes, that is an ethical issue. The flip side of course, is that we are battling against the likes of this, which raises other ethical issues. http://www.franklins.btinternet.co.uk/calcmate.html "If you are fed-up with structural engineers taking weeks to provide calculations at an exhorbitant cost, why not try the software?"

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Member (MIStructE)
Member (MIStructE)
John de Graaf - 04/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
This is the message I got when I tried to access the calcmate site from work; Page Blocked Rating: Dangerous Threat details: Verified fraudulent page or threat source It looks like an accurate assessment!

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Graduate
Graduate
andyc - 04/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Having looked at this I still can't really see how an unqualified person could use this. Precision is good though, reactions down to 14 decimal places. And what about guarentees etc?

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Associate-Member (AMIStructE)
Associate-Member (AMIStructE)
Mr Christopher Hampton - 05/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Check this website out by an associate member of the Association of Building Engineers who has checked some calcs in the past!!!! but is not qualified as IEng or CEng. Seems a bargain to me......... http://www.beamcalcs.com/instant/index.html

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JB - 05/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
It is not pleasant to see structural engineers touting themselves for silly fees, and these software providers are at least enterprising along with being downright dangerous. That said, certification is not the only cure - Eurocodes will soon distinguish proper Structural Engineers from the bull**** merchants! This lower end market just wont survive without changing to some degree to conform with Eurocodes.

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Member (MIStructE)
Member (MIStructE)
Mr Richard Harris - 08/05/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Phil, yes, this is another type of ethical issue. I don't see any sign of the I Struct E taking action on either of these. But, the I Struct E is a learned society, so these issues may be outside their mandate? With Building Control obligated to check calculations, safety should be assured. I remember checking calculations submitted by a non-structural engineer who had some knowledge of structures. He underestimated the loadings on steel beams & got them badly wrong. He then made compensating mistakes in the beam designs, & they were all okay! So, what it boils down to is that more responsibility will be passed to Building Control. Arguably, there isn't an ethical issue here after all, so long as the client's interests are being upheld.

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Member (MIStructE)
Member (MIStructE)
Andrew R - 04/07/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
We don't do ourselves any favours do we? Just had a call from an architectural technician wanting a quote for a loft conversion, usual "engineer" gone on holiday. No site visit required (might have to review that!) Checks on existing purlins and proposals for new. Checks on rafters and proposals for new. Checks on floor joists and proposals for new. Steel beam probably also required in the floor. Masonry checks also? tbc. "my usual chap normally charges £150" Seriously! there has to be at least 3 hours work in the job, before the inevitable haggling and site queries. £150 wouldn't get you 2 hours of Dyno-rods time! I've been quoted £200/hour for a solicitor this week. There are all sorts of coaches/councillors and advisors out there who charge anything from £20 per 10mins for phone calls. But of course, we do it for the love of the work!

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Member (MIStructE)
Member (MIStructE)
Mr Richard Harris - 10/07/2011 00:00:00
   
RE: An ethical issue
Andrew, this is precisely the sort of thing that I was concerned about when I started this topic, & also in my recent letters to Verulam, (another of which is awaiting publication). The client's interests, (& I'm talking about the homeowner, not the plan drawer), cannot possibly be served by such a cheap design. This cheap design mentality leads to poor quality in construction. But the plan drawers like to have a tame engineer who knocks out quick designs for a low fee. It makes them look good. The client doesn't know that they've got a poor quality job because there's nothing to compare it with. Jo Public doesn't understand that buying a design service, (which is a means to an end), is not like buying most other services, (which are ends in themselves). (The British public's misuse of the title 'engineer' doesn't help.) They don't understand that a cheap design is likely to result in an expensive, ugly, unserviceable building. I've even had clients, who've purchased my service on the basis of price, complain to me about the poor quality of their architectural plans! They got what they paid for from the plan drawer. (I work for a low hourly rate.) Doing cheap designs that do not look after our clients' interests is against the IStructE code of practice.

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