Florida CMs Discuss Market Opportunities & Challenges
Originally published by: SBCA — November 17, 2014
The following article was produced and published by the source linked to above, who is solely responsible for its content. SBC Magazine is publishing this story to raise awareness of information publicly available online and does not verify the accuracy of the author’s claims. As a consequence, SBC cannot vouch for the validity of any facts, claims or opinions made in the article.
On Friday, November 12, 2014, component manufacturers (CM) and suppliers from all across the state of Florida gathered in Orlando to discuss the current challenges they faced in the marketplace and how the past Florida chapter structure should be rejuvenated to collectively address those challenges.
Optimism among attendees was high regarding economic recovery and future growth opportunities in Florida. Given that, the group explored several issues that could either help or hinder the component industry’s continued success. First among those issues was a CM’s scope of work. Chapter 2 of the ANSI/TPI 1 standard, which is adopted into the building code, provides clear guidance on scope of work. Attendees reviewed the standard and discussed the various ways in which a CM’s scope of work is altered by their customer contracts. Florida law further complicates matters by creating unique categories for “truss design engineers,” versus “truss system engineers” and “successor engineers.”
With the advancement of electronic document delivery, SBCA is developing a system to allow CMs to create and present to customers complete electronic jobsite packages. A challenge for CMs in Florida will be overcoming confusion in the marketplace regarding the law’s acceptance of electronic seals and signatures.
Throughout the discussion of these challenges, attendees agreed it was important to have a united voice and a unified approach to addressing them. To that end, they agreed to create a task force made up of representatives from each region of the state to work with SBCA to prioritize the issues. It was stressed that SBCA must rely on individual CMs to attend local meetings in their markets (HBA’s, building officials, fire service, etc.), act as a resource and “ambassador” for the industry to those groups, and share what they hear with SBCA and other Florida members. Local intelligence gathering will be the key to acting proactively to solve potential problems. Further, the relationships forged out of being a local resource to those groups will help the industry more effectively persuade them to see the component industry’s point of view.
For more specific information on the topics discussed, Christopher Gould at Gould Design, Inc. and Tony Sierra at MiTek USA, Inc., put together the following bulleted summary:
- There is a push in contracts, plans and specifications for the component manufacturer to be the central focal point for truss systems engineering.
- The issues here stem from the fragmentation of the market, misunderstanding of the code and professional engineering laws, and building inspectors who need help understanding the nuances of how the structural components industry functions as part of the construction process.
- The building code is complicated. When issues arise, there is a need for someone to provide help in the way of thoughtful and thorough education.
- Kirk Grundahl stressed SBCA is a “best practices” organization.
- SBCA’s goal is to develop a process to help every SBCA chapter and member have accurate code/technical information. Going forward, this information will be gathered into a “research report” document, which can then be used as a foundation for both code compliance documents and educational programs. Component manufacturer (CM) members can then use these resources to raise awareness and provide educational information to building officials and others in the market.
- The following are areas where questions can be raised and confusion can occur in the field even among those who are responsible for them:
- Truss Repairs
- Fall Protection
- Jobsite Storage
- Truss Handling
- Toe-Nailing for Uplift
- Temporary Bracing
- Construction responsibilities
- The introductory discussions that were had on these topics set the stage for a discussion regarding the role Florida chapters can take, and how SBCA members can best serve the Florida market with respect to addressing the areas listed above.
- At one point, the question was asked; "Does the group want to become a more focused and united organization working on Florida issues at a state-wide level where the intelligence on the issues is coming from the local Florida chapters?” Based on the comments made in response, it seemed attendees felt this would be a very good idea. A few challenges to doing something like this were discussed, including: Florida is a large state, and it can be difficult to get everyone together in one location; framing practices differ in various parts of Florida; local code official relationships influence whether a code provision is problematic for CMs, etc.
- The discussion then proceeded to, "What is the purpose of the group? How does the group serve the best interests of all CMs in Florida in the context of the regional market differences? How do we do it and what does this structure look like?" Attendees agreed now was the time to answer these questions and figure out how to form a cohesive Florida group. As a first step, it was decided a task group made up of local chapter representatives would be created to tackle the most important state-wide issues while giving the representatives an opportunity to cater to their regional needs.
- One of the roles of the task group is to provide a united front with respect to building material supply chain products, such as LVL and I-joists, and address issues in the context of professional engineering roles and responsibilities.
- An in-depth discussion took place regarding the movement in the Florida market to increase the scope of work for the CM to become a "truss systems engineer," where CMs are responsible to design the entire truss system and developing the truss system bracing, truss system load paths, etc.
- This can mean the truss manufacturer is responsible for roof bracing design and load paths for which they have traditionally not been responsible. Most CMs are not able to provide this under their current scope of operation.
- CMs should review their contracts in the context of their scope of work. Some of the changes in contract documents are intended to shift liability (some of it onto the CM).
- It was discussed how through a CM's desire to be helpful they typically end up doing technical work for free. Attendees reviewed the scope of work responsibilities contained in the Chapter 2 of the ANSI/TPI 1 standard. The group agreed it is very important for CMs to fully understand the scope of work concepts in the context of construction documents (i.e. contracts, plans, specifications, etc.).
- The group also reviewed the Florida Professional Engineering law definitions and the Florida Building Code concepts that also designate scope of responsibility. The key definitions include:
Engineer of Record/Registered Design Professional (EOR/RDP)
Engineer who is in responsible charge for the preparation, signing, dating, sealing and issuing of any engineering document(s) for any engineering service or creative work.
Engineer engaged by the owner to review and coordinate certain aspects of the project, as determined by the building official, for compatibility with the design of the building or structure, including submittal documents prepared by others, deferred submittal documents and phased submittal documents.
Truss System Engineer
An engineer who designs a Truss System.
Truss Design Engineer
An engineer who designs individual trusses, but does not design a Truss System.
An engineer who undertakes a specialty service and provides services or creative work (delegated engineering document) regarding a portion of the engineering project. The delegated engineer is the engineer of record for that portion of the engineering project.
An engineer, who is not the structural engineer of record, who provides engineering criteria or designs necessary for the structure to be completed. The specialty engineer may be a delegated engineer.
An engineer seeking to reuse already sealed contract documents under the successor professional engineer's seal must be able to document and produce upon request evidence that he has in fact recreated all the work done by the original professional engineer. The successor professional engineer must take all professional and legal responsibility for the documents which he sealed and signed and can in no way exempt himself from such full responsibility. Plans need not be redrawn by the successor professional engineer; however, justification for such action must be available through well-kept and complete documentation on the part of the successor professional engineer as to his having rethought and reworked the entire design process.
- When a CM signs a contract that requires them to design the entire truss system, the CM can inadvertently become a "Successor Engineer" under Florida law, which means they assume greater liability for the design of the structure. By way of comparison, under Florida law, the “Truss Design Engineer” is only responsible for engineering each individual truss.
- A good example to illustrate this difference is a window manufacturer. The manufacturer employs a window engineer to design the window to resist positive and negative pressure and potentially missile loading conditions. The window manufacturer is not responsible for design of the window opening framing or the rest of the wall framing and sheathing. In the same way, the CM is responsible for the single truss that is placed into a roof or floor assembly, not the entire system.
- The recommendation for all CMs to ensure they do not get into a business relationship that has unintended consequences is to:
- Read each contract closely and ensure the defined scopes of work match a CM’s actual scope of work.
- Revise the contracts, if necessary.
- It is very important to have the EOR sign off on the design assumptions and loads and be aware that the CM scope of work is limited to ANSI/TPI 1, Chapter 2 requirements.
- The group then discussed how CMs in the local market can really help all Florida members by providing information and feedback that can be integrated into a national best practice. One key aspect to this approach is to have CMs attend BOAF, HBA, Structural Engineers Association (SEA) meetings and share what they hear at these meetings. As a consequence, CMs can become a familiar face and be an "ambassador" representing the truss industry at the local level. In turn, they can help in raising local market issues to the national level for a more coordinated approach in Florida overall and across the country. At present, the SBCA has a few dedicated individuals that are very engaged in their local markets and when this is done well the voice of the industry is consistent, united and there is a strong chance to effect change.
- The issue was raised that there are a lot of new building officials coming in to the industry. This presents a golden opportunity for CMs to become the resource for teaching these new officials how to properly inspect structural building components. The idea is to become the 'go-to' person in your market for structural component-related code compliance issues.
- SBCA is currently working on a way to provide BCSI documents to CMs in electronic format. The goal is to allow more precise jobsite packages to be created and incorporated with a specific Truss Placement Diagram and the companion set of Truss Design Drawings. This approach will allow CMs to print an entire customized truss package on their own.
- This development led to a discussion on electronic seals and signatures. Attendees mentioned Orange & Volusia counties will not accept digital or electronic signatures, nor will the Miami-Dade area.
- Discussion then took place regarding the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature, where a lack of knowledge about the law and technicalities that is likely causing the problem.
- Electronic signature: A signature on the seal that resembles a hand-written one but is in electronic format
- Digital signature: A seal that is created by the engineer that has no signature that resembles a hand-written one, but is totally digital.
- There was a broad based discussion on how to best deal with the electronic seals and signatures issue in Florida so that CM TDD processing can be streamlined. Bill Krick of Alpine has created an educational program that he will share with SBCA. The goal of the group is to develop the facts, ensure that we have good knowledge of the civil and FBPE law and create a roadmap for implementation in the Florida market.
- The next topic of discussion was the "FrameSAFE" program being developed by the National Framers council. Refer to www.framerscouncil.org for in depth information. The idea is to have a "best practices" in place that can be used by all framers to help ensure all framers come home in the same condition as they came to work in and also create a more uniform approach to framing safety that is intended to help framers and OSHA. The key to NFC and SBCA is that there are ways to collaborate to make the job site safer through the use of components. There is also discussion taking place on how to make BCSI temporary bracing easier and safer to install by converting temporary bracing into permanent bracing.
- Gary Pierpont asked about lumber issues and staff updated the group on the new PS20 document newly revised as of last week. The group then reviewed the PS20 Review Task Group minutes and the motions that SBCA made and were denied. In particular the review covered the definition of design values and the grade stamp content and what it all means to a CM.
- The Wisconsin McDonalds broken bottom chord example was reviewed. This showed photos of the lumber before snow load was removed and then after snow load removal. Based on the lumber shown, it looked like a low grade of the lumber – turns out it was 2400MSR 2.0E. A discussion on the risk to CMs was discussed based on the lack of traceability of the grade stamp if the grade stamp was cut off. In any regarding process there is risk. The BFS experience in Alabama was detailed where a contractor asked for a lumber grade review on a jobsite. The regarding of lumber was performed and caused BFS to have to provide $25K in floor truss repairs. More recently the same thing happened causing $7k in repairs. MSR was discussed and how it measures bending and that bending is correlated to the other design values. Tension proof testing is not typically done. We need to have reliable design values. Kent and Kirk are navigating this and trying to figure out how best to manage change inside the risks that are present.
- Closing remarks reflected on the opportunities that exist in Florida now that most have "weathered the storm" of the downturn and we can collectively turn to supporting SBC industry growth through the cooperative work of our local chapters and SBCA. Gratitude is expressed by Kirk Grundahl, Bill Heine and Mike Ruede for all in attendance.
- Overall, the collaboration of all of Florida’s chapters was a significant highlight of the discussion. The task group will be working on this to ensure that what we do will benefit all Florida CM members well. Since Florida has such a diverse and complex market, it only makes sense to work together on key issues and provide a unified Florida voice.
- Each attendee was asked to email Kirk three key Florida issues that they believe should be tackled to help support the Florida market the best. The Florida task group will be working on the mission, the structure and the project plan. The project plan will initially consist of the three most popular and pressing items to address.