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Works Alone, Likes It

November 19, 1989

As a structural engineer in practice since 1957, I take exception to R. D. Crowell's quote, "A one-man office is an accident waiting to happen," from the article "Architects Are Drawing Lawsuits for Malpractice" (Nov. 5).

I have employed engineers, but I've worked alone for the last 13 years. My employees were first-rate, and many are now in practice. In recent years, it has become difficult to find people who wish to take on structural engineering with its headaches and responsibilities.

As a one-man engineering operation, I prepare calculations and details, review shop drawings, correct structural plans, coordinate with the other disciplines and make whatever changes or corrections are necessary. It may seem like a great deal of work for one person, but it is the most efficient way to do it and, I believe, the best way to eliminate costly errors.

Also, on large projects with weekly construction meetings where all of the disciplines are present, when the contractor asks questions about facets of one's work, I have no problem responding. On the other hand, architect's or engineer's representatives often cannot answer until they contact their boss.

Owners take a dim view of this delay, and later, if they feel that the professionals they hired let them down, don't mind calling an attorney for imagined or valid grievances.

Incidentally, not surprisingly, I don't carry insurance.

FRANK L. BURKE

Los Angeles

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