Note: This decision should be considered by all structural engineers submitting drawings in support of building permit applications. For implications of this decision, visit the Discipline and Enforcement Section of the July-August edition of Innovation magazine.
A Panel of the Discipline Committee found that Edward K.Y. Lim, P.Eng., sealed and submitted structural drawings in support of a building permit application that were deficient in a manner that constituted unprofessional conduct. The Panel ordered the suspension of Mr. Lim’s membership for 30 days commencing on June 15, 2019. At the conclusion of the suspension, for at least a 12 month period, Mr. Lim may not submit any drawings to an authority having jurisdiction in support of the issuance of a building permit unless those drawings have been peer reviewed by an approved peer reviewer. The Panel also ordered that Mr. Lim complete and pass the Professional Practice Examination, offered in June 2019, and that he pay $25,000 towards the association’s investigation and legal costs.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC issued a Notice of Inquiry to Edward K.Y. Lim, P.Eng., regarding his sealing and submitting deficient structural drawings in support of a building permit application. A disciplinary inquiry was held on October 22–23 and December 4, 2018.
On March 4, 2019, a panel of the Discipline Committee (the Panel) issued its Determination. The Panel concluded that Mr. Lim demonstrated unprofessional conduct as his drawings constituted “a marked departure from the standard to be expected of a competent professional” contrary to s. 33(1)(c) of the Engineers and Geoscientists Act. The Panel found that, “…the plans sealed and submitted omitted material information, including incomplete load paths; incomplete beam, joist, and column sizing; lack of foundation details; and lack of roof framing details.” The Panel accepted the expert evidence presented during the inquiry that the drawings were “50% to 75% complete.”
The Panel rejected Mr. Lim’s defence that it is acceptable for structural drawings to be submitted at an early and incomplete stage of development to get them “in the queue” for consideration by the municipality, after which the plans would “evolve” before construction began.
The Panel similarly rejected Mr. Lim’s defence that the submitted drawings were sufficient to satisfy section 188.8.131.52(1)(c) of the BC Building Code because they could be “checked” by a building official or plan reviewer. The Panel concluded that the drawings failed to include the mandatory elements found at section 184.108.40.206(1)(c) of the BC Building Code, that is, the drawings must include, “…the dimensions, location and size of all structural members in sufficient detail to enable the design to be checked.” The Panel found that the level of detail needed to satisfy the “check” required by section 220.127.116.11(1)(c) of the Building Code, “…is that which would enable a design check by a professional engineer.” The Panel noted:
…the process described by Mr. Lim, i.e. the submission of sealed drawings at an early stage to “get into the queue”, with the intent of adding structural details later, adds a significant element of risk to the public that critical details will be missed, and that the structure as built may not meet the required design standards.
The Panel made reference to a prior discipline case from 2004 which was appealed to the BC Supreme Court (Re Familamiri, 2004 BCSC 660), where similar inadequate drawings were submitted in support of an application for a building permit. The Panel noted that the Court, “…rejected Mr. Familamiri’s argument, much like Mr. Lim’s, that industry practice is that construction is a ‘dynamic process’.” The Panel wrote:
An engineer’s seal is an attestation that the sealed document meets the high standards of the profession. When an engineer applies his or her seal to drawings submitted in support of a building permit application, he or she confirms their reliability and that the “relevant legislation” – in this case, the Building Code – has been met. …the drawings sealed and submitted by Mr. Lim to the Municipality did not meet these standards. There were material omissions and deficiencies and the omissions were such that a design check could not be performed. The Panel is therefore satisfied that Mr. Lim engaged in unprofessional conduct by sealing and submitting the drawings dated February 19, 2016, which were materially incomplete and lacking in sufficient detail to allow the design to be checked.
On May 15, 2019, the Panel issued its Decision and Order on Penalty and Costs. The Panel suspended Mr. Lim’s membership for 30 days, beginning June 15, 2019. At the conclusion of the suspension, structural design drawings prepared by Mr. Lim for building permit applications will be subject to the requirements of a Limited Peer Review for at least 12 months. The peer reviewer must ascertain that the drawings:
- have been prepared in substantial compliance with section 18.104.22.168 of the BC Building Code and thus include sufficient detail for the structural design to be checked; and
- comply with the Engineers And Geoscientists BC’s Quality Management Guideline on the Use of the Seal as applicable to drawings submitted for permit applications.
Mr. Lim was also ordered to complete and pass the Professional Practice Examination offered on June 10–12, 2019, and required to pay $25,000 towards the association’s investigation and legal costs.
The full text of the Determination of the Discipline Committee and the Decision and Order of the Discipline Committee on Penalty and Costs can be found in the Disciplinary Notices section of our website, at egbc.ca/discipline-notices.
Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s website contains information on the complaint, investigation, and discipline processes. You can contact us at 604.558.6647 or toll-free at 1.888.430.8035 ext. 6647, or by email at [email protected].