Warranty Managers: Don’t Get Busted By The Engineering Police!
By Christopher E. Carter, P.E.
Here’s a riddle for you: What’s the difference between a warranty rep, an engineer and God? God doesn’t think He’s a warranty rep or an engineer! This means of course, that warranty reps sometimes think they’re engineering gods, and engineers sometimes think they’re warranty gods. (I’ll leave the latter to another column.) But for now, let’s look at the “warranty-rep-who-thinks-he’s-an-engineer” phenomena:
In Colorado, this occasionally happens during home warranty claim investigations, and may go like this:
- Homeowner calls builder about some drywall cracks;
- Builder sends out warranty rep to investigate;
- Warranty rep looks at cracks and declares that “normal settlement” is the cause;
- Homeowner calls back in six months to report that cracks are getting worse;
- Warranty rep investigates and advises homeowner to fix the cracks as part of a “normal maintenance plan;”
- Homeowner calls back in three months, after fixing the cracks, to report they’ve reappeared;
- Warranty rep investigates and concludes that homeowner improperly repaired the cracks, and counsels homeowner to hire a professional;
- Homeowner hires professional (engineer) who discovers missing column in crawl space below area of cracks;
- Warranty rep is notified, apologizes, and offers to install missing column and fix the cracks;
- Homeowner accepts offer, and files a complaint against the builder with the Colorado Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors (“PE/PLS”) for practicing engineering without a license.
By now you’re saying, “What?…What do you mean?… Why?”
It can transpire because there is a little known statute out there that prohibits the unlawful practice of engineering, and it is referenced in PE/PLS Board Rule 2.2:
Practice of Engineering. The Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors interprets the language of Section 12-25-102(10), C.R.S., the "practice of engineering" to include, or exclude, but not be limited to the following.
(b) Inspections. Inspection and examination of single or multiple family residential, commercial, industrial or institutional buildings, regarding their structural, electrical, mechanical, thermal, insulation and roofing/waterproofing subsystems for proper integrity or capacity, constitutes the practice of engineering as defined in C.R.S. 12-25, Part 1. Any attempt to determine the structural integrity or capacity of a building, or any subsystem thereof, other than detection of problems by visual inspection or normal operation of the user's controls, constitutes the practice of engineering. This would include the diagnosis and analysis of problems with buildings and/or the design of remedial actions. Therefore, an individual who advertises or practices in this area shall be licensed as a professional engineer in the State of Colorado.
This is a good thing to know, because the acts of violators are punishable as a class 3 misdemeanor. Besides, this knowledge may also help you avoid embarrassing and potentially harmful questions if you’re ever deposed. So when in doubt, sub it out – then go, and sin no more!