Learning the value of engineers

As a young/er carpenter, I was hired to replace a deck off the master bedroom and directly over the daughter's bedroom. The owner wanted to put a hot tub up on the deck and asked me if we should get an engineer. I pshawed that saying I would build it strong enough to hold a tank.  I installed LVLs, metal hangers and beefed up support beams left right and center. 

Some months later, several hours after a significant earthquake, the owner phoned me. When I heard his voice a skid of bricks fell through my stomach. The deck had held up but the owner's concern for his daughter's safety was heightened and mine now also hit high. We brought in an engineer who said we would need remove the drywall from the bedroom walls, install more foundation anchor bolts and sheet the walls with half inch thick plywood.  We drained the tub and moved it to a rear patio.

Every time I remember that situation, my stomach cringes. I feel so ashamed of endangering that girl. As you might imagine, I now take lateral and vertical loading very seriously, plus have increased respect for and work closely with engineers. In fact, when we finish basement areas, we increase foundation anchor bolts  and install plywood sheeting on pony walls as a routine proceedure. 

Stephen Lentz