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Email Q & A

Q: I am working on pulling permits for this project and the city says they need the structural drawing wet stamped what can be done about this…C.M.
A: My plans use prescriptive compliance with IRC code, the basis of the states’ building codes. As such there is nothing to engineer/calculate. Normally a stamp is not required. If you are in an are of extreme conditions regarding seismic, wind or snow, beyond the prescriptive limits, then it’s necessary to take plan to state licensed engineer or architect to run load calculations and then mark up the plans as required. That usually involves increasing size of or adding hardware.

There are a very few building departments. which require certification just to pass liability on to a state professional as outsourcing, to avoid there own liabilities. Some parts of NY, NJ, TX and even some in VA do it that way – but most places allow prescriptive compliance.

I don’t offer engineering because it is rarely required and these are not custom designed plans. You can find “consulting engineers” listed in your local phone directory. Their fees vary but would usually be a few hundred dollars. If you would rather, you can return and/or not use the plans and I will refund your purchase, of course.

Q: I am interested in plan 1476-4,however, it is not in the Washington state plans. Can this plan be made compliant to Washington State building codes?…..B.N.
A: Because of its size it cannot comply with the prescriptive compliance approach which is what the WA state category plans are. Since you are probably in a D2 seismic region all you can do is take plans to a “consulting engineer” in WA. They can do the loads analysis for seismic and mark-up plans as needed. (usually just hardware changes) Since the plans is fully sheathed and uses a manufactured truss package it is pretty close as it is. You would not see very much added cost for the structure but engineers charge at least a few hundred dollars for their certification. If you proceed with the plans I recommend getting the PDF file instead of paper. An engineer can edit, add notes, etc. easily using software and then print the modified plans for you.

Q: We are looking for plans for a 20×20 flat roof garage with a porch on one side. I see you have a plan with a max height of 10ft. Is it possible to get one with a max height of 16ft? That is the max in our city and we’d like to utilize all the space we can if possible. J.Z.
A: Most of my plans comply with building code using prescriptive (not engineered) measures which are subject to certain dimensional and shape limits. 10 ft. framed wall height is one of those limits for bearing walls. One way to increase total is build up your concrete or block foundation 4 or 5 ft. above grade and then build framed walls. But you should confirm with local authority that they would allow that. It’s usually okay.

Q: Our town building dept requires a seal on the plans. I read in the FAQs that your plans do not come with a seal, however is it possible to purchase a copy of a plan with a seal? T.E.
A: I do not provide seal for plan. My plans use prescriptive compliance with building code and in most places that is the norm and plans are approved for permits. In places where there are severe environmental conditions they usually prefer the plans be engineered to check building strengths with applied forces which is certified by an engineer licensed in your state – because prescriptive parameters are not high or severe enough. Also some building departments. want only certified plans so they can absolutely avoid any liability in projects. This is common in NJ, NY and NV. If required you can take a stock plan to a local engineer or architect to have certified. Usually, where there is that requirement, there are professionals available to provide that service for a fee. Customers often do this if needed.

For clarity on this, it is generally not considered ethical for engineers to pre-stamp plans because their certification is supposed to be for that particular project in its specific location. Thank you

Q: We purchased garbage plans from your company and are very happy with the plans. The plans were easy to read and we are very pleased with the garage. My question is do you have house plans?….. V.N.
A: Thank you. I’m sorry, no – just the garage plans nowadays.

Q: The IRC has criteria based upon location in the Unites States. What may work in Virginia might not be the same on the west coast states or specifically Nevada. Roof load, Snow load, Exposure, and Wind Speed for a few. I did attached the design requirements for Carson City…… J. in NV
A: I may not have explained clearly. In most building departments prescriptive compliance is allowed, so no engineering is required, if the plans design parameters are the same or greater than local required parameters. You can verify their local parameters, as they would be established. Behm Design plans design parameters are shown on [parameters] page My plans are not designed to VA requirements. They are designed to IRC requirements with parameters that cover most parts of the US, but not where severe conditions exist. My understanding of the NV situation is that all plans must be prepared by a NV registered designer, architect or engineer. I don’t recall there being an exception about using out-of-state plans even if certified by a NV professional. So my plans probably cannot be used. Someone in NV could replicate my design,drawing their own plans. (It’s legal to copy a design but not to hijack the actual plans) I have had customers is other states, like FL, buy the PDF file for a plan and then have their local company draw up the plans with the PDF as reference. I hope that helps.

Q: I mailed you recently about some plans, but I just saw this picture and was wondering if you have something that looks like this but will hold 2 cars and a full rise lift. …P.H.
A: Plan 856-1 is the one he built. To get to 12 + ceiling height you can build framed wall to the maximum allowed 10′ and then build foundation wall up 2 to 4′ above grade as needed for inside height. Those changes can usually be just noted on the stock plan. But I would check with local authority first for their okay.

Q: Jay – I was looking t plans 520-1 and 572-3 for the free material costs that you provided. Let me know. thanks….S.C.
A: Hello,I don’t estimate costs but do provide free materials lists for your supplier to generate costs. Excel files attached. Thank you.

Q: Jay, Hi my name is Sean. I purchased plan 2402-1 off of you last week and I have a question about the bearing walls in the garage. What exactly is that for I have never seen that. I live in pa. I figured maybe that’s for heavier snow loads or hurricane winds. If I could get a clarification on that I would appreciate that. Thanks…. S.
A: If you are referring to the “braced walls” (4 places) in the garage they are part of the required prescriptive “braced wall construction” of the IRC building code. They are there for lateral bracing against wind and seismic forces of moderate levels. In PA you are nearly no such risks so they would not be needed. If you are building with a local inspection or plan check, you could as them to allow omitting them when you build.My plans are used in many parts of US and those walls are required where risks are present. PA has either no or very minor risk for seismic.

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