E-news for the Construction Division Fall 2013

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An Owner's Guide to Successful Project Management

Owners interested in new construction have the option of several delivery systems to bring their project to fruition. An Owner's Guide to Successful Project Management, published by NSPE's Professional Engineers in Construction, focuses on the "owner's representative" system of project delivery. The Owner's Guide to Successful Project Management can help:

•Deliver a quality project safely, on schedule, and within budget;

•Project owners and organizations with limited personnel or the expertise experience in the development of design documents or the coordination of construction contracts; and

ORs market their professional services and educate potential clients.

Priced at $50, or $25 for members. Download your copy today!

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Improving Construction Inspection Improves Project Quality

One of the most unheralded yet vital tasks of the construction community is the responsibility of project inspection. However, excellent performance is too often considered routine, expected, and is generally unrecognized for its success. Failure, on the other hand, or any misstep in inspection protocol can sometimes result in serious threats to public safety.

Competent, qualified construction inspectors require common sense, honed powers of observation, and excellent communication and organizational skills. Equally important, they must understand basic engineering principles and be knowledgeable about con­struction materials and methods. In public works inspection alone, these requisites need to be applied in the following areas: contracts, plans, and specifications; soils fundamentals; water and sewerage systems construction; concrete and asphalt pavement systems; highway, street, and bridge construction; dredging operations and dam construction; erosion control techniques; and work zone traffic control.

Outside of the context of residential home inspections, many of those in the general public are usually not aware of the broad scope of construction inspection duties. Typically, inspectors ensure that new construction, changes, or repairs comply with local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications. To perform their duties, inspectors must be adept at using surveying instruments, metering devices, and testing equipment to verify level, alignment, and elevation of structures and fixtures, and they are obligated to issue violation notices and stop-work orders until compliance is satisfied.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of construction and building inspectors is expected to grow 18% from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. With concern for public safety and a desire to improve construction quality spurring this growth, those who are professionally certified and can multitask their inspection duties are expected to have the edge in employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors.


Indeed, one of the interesting construction trends is how inspection teams are diversifying. For instance, construction inspectors that traditionally have checked the structural quality and general safety of buildings are now expanding into specific areas of structural steel and reinforced-concrete structures. Other inspection teams are focusing more individually on electrical, elevator, mechanical, plumbing, and fire and sprinkler systems. More recently, some inspection activities have diversified specifically into examining plans and specifications to determine whether compliance with building codes is satisfactory and to ensure that services performed are according to an owner’s design specifications.


As noted earlier, professional certification will become increasingly desirable in the future. To that end, in 1984 the American Construction Inspectors Association created the Board of Registered Construction Inspectors to establish a program to set minimum standards for general engineering inspectors, general building inspectors, public works inspectors, and for different categories of specialty inspectors. Today, RCI receives and processes numerous applications for registration, conducts examinations, and registers construction inspectors who successfully meet all the specified requirements. Registrations may be renewed, conditional upon payment of renewal fees and verification of completing a minimum of 24 units of continuing education.


Of course, at the core of any viable construction inspection program—whether managed internally by a company’s project staff or outsourced to certified professionals—is the use of inspection forms, checklists, and other documentation, such as photographs, drawings, and digital or taped recordings. Well-organized documentation on paper or through use of mobile or online technology cannot be overstated. Not only is this prudent businesswise, but it is an excellent precautionary move to ward off or mitigate potential legal claims that might arise during construction or after project closeout.


First Time Quality LLC, a developer of construction quality and safety products based in Crofton, Maryland, cites five important ways that inspection checklists can improve project quality. First, inspection forms that list critical quality concerns can be used to build consensus among project stakeholders. Next, as the various phases of construction begin, contractors can use their checklists as reminders for important items to remember and as verification of completion of their work tasks. Third, inspection checklists serve to verify compliance to quality control protocol and adherence to relevant construction specifications. Fourth, because any stakeholder can use the same inspection form to inspect work, these forms are a good vehicle for identifying commonly cited issues for improvement. Finally, project owners, construction managers, and general contractors can use inspection checklist data for deciding which subcontractors provided the best “return on investment,” a tool that can be used for monitoring future project performance.


Two other resources for improving construction inspection quality are at the fingertips of construction stakeholders, one in NSPE’s own backyard. A few years ago, the Professional Engineers in Construction interest group of NSPE released an online publication, A Field Guide for Inspection of Sewerage and Drainage Construction. The 156-page guide is designed for use by construction inspectors serving on sewerage and drainage projects for small to mid-size municipalities or private owners. The document’s purpose is to help advance the mission of high-quality construction standards by providing a series of proven policies, established procedures and techniques, and helpful resources, including inspection checklists, applicable to construction projects on any size scale.


The second useful resource, the seventh edition of the Construction Inspection Manual, is available at Contractor-Books.com. The 358-page manual provides recognized guidelines for construction inspectors and includes comprehensive checklists for field inspection. Cited in the document’s foreword, the field manual’s goal is to assist the construction industry in improving the inspection procedures on all types of construction work and to achieve a consensus among owners, architects, engineers, contractors, and construction inspectors as to the best methods and practices.


Finally, for inspection of public works projects in the transportation industry, the Federal Highway Administration offers the Construction Program Management and Inspection Guide. Among its diverse content, the 196-page guide defines the purposes of construction inspection reports and discusses the various types and scope of inspections. Specifically, the guide teaches how to prepare for inspection activities, including how to conduct reviews, collect and evaluate data, write field inspection reports, process and distribute reports, and how to control and expedite information sharing and technology transfer, as it pertains to construction program management

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Open Enrollment for PEC Sustaining Sponsor Directory

Now through October 31, get 10% off the price of becoming a 2014 PEC Sustaining Firm and ensure your firm is listed in PEC’s online searchable directory. When your company becomes a PEC Sustaining Firm, it will help to support the efforts of Professional Engineers in Construction (PEC) as we strive to promote the hard-earned professional engineer designation and enhance the image of the PE in Construction.

As a 2014 PEC Sustaining Firm, you will link more business to your future while receiving the following benefits:


  • Engraved PEC Sustaining Firm plaque to display in your office. 

  • Free company listing: You’ll be included in a searchable directory that includes a complete description of your firm’s specialties. Let owners, customers, and partners find you! All PEC Sustaining Firms are listed at: www.nspe.org/PEC/Supporters.
  • Complimentary copy of the recently published An Owner's Guide to Successful Project Management.

  • Free company advertisement: Listing in an issue of NSPE’s PE magazine (circulation is over 40,000) and in PEC Reporter, a monthly electronic newsletter sent to more than 5,500 PEC members.

  • Valuable discounts: 25% discount on ads in PE magazine, NSPE Update, NSPE Web banners, and Job Board postings.

Please complete the enclosed form and MAIL or FAX back today! Your participation will not only help you reach potential clients and partners, it will also provide valuable support for our industry and profession. Please visit www.nspe.org/PEC for a complete list of PEC programs. 

Thank you for your continuing support of NSPE/PEC. 

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NSPE Fall Ethics Forum

Each webinar is only $99 for NSPE members. For more information and to register, please visit the NSPE Web site.

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest with Vendors and Colleagues

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one-hour discussion on issues relating to serving as a consultant to a redevelopment authority, loans from contractors, spouse as vendor, opinions of engineering experts, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials, and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

October 23, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (E.D.T.)

Ethics Forum: A Conversation about Conflicts of Interest and the Public

Join NSPE Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Arthur Schwartz and a panel of engineering ethics experts for a one-hour discussion on issues relating to community service, design and construction of a house in a flood zone, serving as the chairman of a home owners association, serving on a hospital board, and other issues.

Participants will be able to pose questions to the panelists, be provided with written handout materials, and will be able to participate in a post webinar quiz, as required by state engineering licensure boards.

November 20, 12:30 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (E.S.T.)  [ return to top ]

SEC Approves Final Municipal Advisor Registration Rule

In a victory for the engineering community, the SEC announced that engineers do not have to register if they provide engineering advice such as feasibility studies and cash flow analysis and similar activities related to engineering aspects of a project. On September 18th, the Securities and Exchange Commission unanimously approved the final municipal advisor registration rule which, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, requires municipal advisers to permanently register with the SEC. The final rule clarifies the law's engineering exemption, which exempts engineers providing "engineering advice" from the municipal advisor definition. 

However, this exemption does not apply to activities in which an engineer provides advice regarding municipal financial products or the issuance of municipal securities. For example, an engineer that is engaged by a municipal entity or obligated person to prepare revenue projections to support the structure of an issuance of municipal securities would be providing advice outside the scope of the engineering exclusion and therefore would be engaging in municipal advisory activity. However, an engineer could advise a municipal entity about whether a project could be safely or reliably completed with the available funds and provide engineering advice about other alternative projects, cost estimates, or funding schedules without engaging in municipal advisory activity. Furthermore, an engineering company that informs a municipal entity or obligated person of potential tax savings, discounts, or rebates on supplies would be acting within the scope of the engineering exclusion. Read the SEC's full ruling, as it pertains to the engineering exemption.  [ return to top ]

Recent Court Decisions of Relevance to Contract Documents

Some recent court case issues include:

  • Limitation of liability clause in design contract. SAMS Hotel Group LLC, v. Environs Inc. United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit (2013)
  • Consequences of not complying with express requirements of request for proposals. Matter of Alares, LLC, United States Government Accountability Office (2012)
  • Statute of limitations for action under the False Claims Act.United States ex rel. Benjamin Carter v. Halliburton Co., United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit (2013).

For a complete list of cases and summaries, visit the EJCDC Web Site

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201314 PEC Executive Board

For a complete list of PEC Executive Board Officers, please visit the PEC Web site.
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If you would like to sponsor the next edition of PEC Reporter, contact the Professional Engineers in Construction for more information.


PEC would like to thank the following 2013 Sustaining Sponsors:

ABC Paving, Co. Inc.
Abriola, Co.
AC Corporation
ADCOMM Engineering Company
Alber & Rice, Inc.
Allied Contractors, Inc.
Bec-Lin Engineering, LP
Blitman Building Corporation
Broaddus & Associates
Brown Construction Services
Buchart Horn, Inc.
Calvi Electric Company
Century Electric, Inc.
Code Consultants, Inc.
Construction Industry Advancement Program of NJ (CIAP)
Dalton Olmsted & Fuglevand
D'Annunzio & Sons, Inc.
Doka USA, Ltd.
Drury South, Inc.
Fagen Engineering, LLC
Five Oaks Associates, LLC
Frank Gurney, Inc.
Frederick Derr & Company, Inc.
Free Contracting, Inc.
George Harms Constructio, Co.
Glynn Geotechnical Engineering
Griffin Engineering LLC
Henderson Electric Company
ISP Constructors LLC
J Fletcher Creamer & Son, Inc.
JEI Engineering, Inc.
John Puder, LLC
Judy Construction Company
Kerr Greulich Engineers, Inc.
KTA, Inc. Consulting Engineers
Lecon, Inc.
LidCo Electrical Contractors, Inc.
Lundy Construction, Co., Inc.
McAbee Construction, Inc.
Metromont Corporation
Paric Corporation
Paul J Gallo Contracting, Inc.
Pembroke Construction, Co., Inc.
Rice Lake Construction Group
Richard Rauseo, P.E. Consulting Engineers
Riverso Assoc, Inc.
Rohde Soyka & Andrews Consulting Engineers, PC
Stansell Electric Company, Inc.
Statewide Aquastore, Inc.
Stephen A Estrin & Co., Inc.
Suberroc Systems SUBSYST
Tamrio, Inc.
The Crom Corporation
The Rubicon Group
Trade Construction Company, LLC
Trumbull Corp.
White Cloud Engineering and Construction Co.
Zep Construction

To learn how to become a PEC Sustaining Sponsor or to contact the above listed companies, please visit the
PEC "Find a Firm" Web site.


For more information or to contact us directly, please visit www.nspe.org.
please reply to this e-mail (pec@nspe.org) with your full name and nine-digit NSPE member number
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