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Do my house plans need to be engineered?

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Published On : 06-28-2004
Author : Steve Donegan
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I often get asked if house plans need to be engineered?  Well, each city is enforces requirements and codes differently.  My building company is in Northern Utah, where we have several environmental factors to deal with.  We are in earthquake zones, have hot and extremely cold temperatures and unusually high snow loads.  The house plans we use from www.theplancollection.com don’t give specific details about snow loads etc.  As a general contractor, I simply take the home plans to the truss company and let them give figure all of the snow loads etc.  They have to do it anyway and it doesn’t cost any more.

If we are building a rambler style home, the city inspectors generally don’t require engineering on the home plan.  However, each city seems to handle that differently.  If we do have to have it engineered, we take it to an engineer here in Utah.  The cost is usually around $200-$300.  Your builder should have an engineer that he recommends.  Or if you are really cheap and are trying to beat the system, just go meet with a general contractor, have him spend a significant amount of time getting your house plan bid-out, find out who his engineer is, milk him out of all the information you can and then don’t use him, because you want to be the general contractor.  I know how people are, because I get used all the time.  Does it make me mad?  You better believe it does.  Is there anything I can really do about it?  Not really.  Do I think people really save much being their own general contractor?  I think very few people can save money, because I build about 25 homes a year, so I get volume discounts.  It took me several years to sort through the good and bad subcontractors.  However, it also depends on the builders in your area.  Some builders are very fair and reasonable, but others are price gouging.  I guess it all depends on whether or not you can find a good reliable contractor. 

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