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Need an engineer for dock building

Old 04-12-2019, 04:38 AM
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Default Need an engineer for dock building

Trying to build a dock in my backyard myself in Pembroke Pines. I was told I needed a permit from South Broward Drainage District and approval from my HOA. I drew up plans to use the Tommy Dock system https://tommydocks.com/ they got approved and I was told to come pick up my permit. I ordered all the parts and went to pick up my permit, when I picked it up, they told me I needed to get a permit from the city also. Great, submitted my plans to the city, and they won't accept them without an engineer's stamp. Now I have $800 in parts and I'm having trouble finding an engineer that will use the Tommy Dock system, as they are not familiar with it. Is anyone an engineer, or know an engineer that would take a look at this and draw plans for a reasonable price? Thanks!
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Old 04-12-2019, 04:42 AM
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Contact the dock mfr. There may be an engr on staff, or be able to refer you to one licensed in your state that they have worked with before. Probably not the first time they have run into this.
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Old 04-12-2019, 04:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Corndog38 View Post
Contact the dock mfr. There may be an engr on staff, or be able to refer you to one licensed in your state that they have worked with before. Probably not the first time they have run into this.
I did, and they don't. They told me they've only had problems in one other state, and that was Washington. Washington just wanted data on the safety of the coatings (environmental hazard, etc). They sent me the data they have, which is just testing on the load of the bracket (700lbs before slipping down the pipe). I found a data sheet online saying the pipe can hold 235lbs each, which would put me at 2350lbs load capacity on the dock. According to this engineer it should withstand 100lbs/sq ft, my dock is going to be 128sq ft, so I'm almost double what he says it should hold. He says he doesn't feel comfortable putting his license on it because he doesn't know the material.
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Old 04-13-2019, 11:24 AM
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Maybe go back to the city and ask them what specifically they want from the engineer. A full design review/analysis? Structural analysis? Placement/site/survey review? If you can get the specifics of what the city wants, an engr may be more comfortable with the project.
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Old 04-13-2019, 10:49 PM
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If it is anything like the experience I had they want the engineer's stamp and seal on all plan documents certifying it meets all the codes. It is BS but the IEEE has Florida in their hip pocket. You need engineered plans to build a dog house (or any other permanent structure). If it is a temporary structure, you need an engineer certifying it meets the tie down code.
In my case, after the engineers plans were rejected twice, he dropped my original plan on his copier with his detail/logo ring around it, stamped it and it sailed through.
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Old 04-14-2019, 05:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Corndog38 View Post
Maybe go back to the city and ask them what specifically they want from the engineer. A full design review/analysis? Structural analysis? Placement/site/survey review? If you can get the specifics of what the city wants, an engr may be more comfortable with the project.
all they want is stamped drawings, nothing else. But, this guy wants me to do it out of concrete and doesn’t want to sign off on using the Tommy dock system that I already bought.
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:19 AM
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I would keep shopping until you find a guy who understands the Tommy system or is willing to talk to their engineers. It may turn out this will not meet the Florida code and you are scrod.
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Old 04-14-2019, 04:09 PM
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What does the IEEE have anything to do with structural?
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Old 04-15-2019, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
I would keep shopping until you find a guy who understands the Tommy system or is willing to talk to their engineers. It may turn out this will not meet the Florida code and you are scrod.
Yea that's what I'm afraid of. If I knew I needed a city permit from the get go, I would have waited to buy it. I was under the impression I only needed one from South Broward Drainage District. I actually called the city and left a message asking if I needed one for a dock in the canal, they never called me back.
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Old 04-15-2019, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
If it is anything like the experience I had they want the engineer's stamp and seal on all plan documents certifying it meets all the codes. It is BS but the IEEE has Florida in their hip pocket. You need engineered plans to build a dog house (or any other permanent structure). If it is a temporary structure, you need an engineer certifying it meets the tie down code.
In my case, after the engineers plans were rejected twice, he dropped my original plan on his copier with his detail/logo ring around it, stamped it and it sailed through.
The need for a structural engineer to certify a design is far from BS. The city/county plan reviewers are not qualified to decide whether or not a structure meets the code so they rely on an licensed engineer. Is it sometimes a pain to deal with... yes. But when the next hurricane rolls through your neighbors will be glad your dock was engineered and stays in place as opposed to it ripping apart and floating away (or your shed doesn't fly away, or that back patio doesn't rip off your house, or any of the other scenarios that the code and building departments are working to prevent).
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Old 04-15-2019, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
Yea that's what I'm afraid of. If I knew I needed a city permit from the get go, I would have waited to buy it. I was under the impression I only needed one from South Broward Drainage District. I actually called the city and left a message asking if I needed one for a dock in the canal, they never called me back.
I deal with building departments through out the state and unfortunately this is usually the case. Most are drastically understaffed and the current construction boom isn't helping. The only way to get an answer is to go and meet with someone in person then follow up that meeting with an email to confirm what was decided.
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Old 04-15-2019, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by blake0723 View Post
The need for a structural engineer to certify a design is far from BS. The city/county plan reviewers are not qualified to decide whether or not a structure meets the code so they rely on an licensed engineer. Is it sometimes a pain to deal with... yes. But when the next hurricane rolls through your neighbors will be glad your dock was engineered and stays in place as opposed to it ripping apart and floating away (or your shed doesn't fly away, or that back patio doesn't rip off your house, or any of the other scenarios that the code and building departments are working to prevent).
I actually understand that but when you are building something that has been engineered hundreds of times and it always comes out the same, at what point can't you say "standard practice".
Generally speaking, the trades are not going to look at the plan anyway beyond how big it is and they will do what they always do. In my case, after paying that engineer for his "details", one was wrong and the inspector made me add more rebar (2 #7s) citing a detail he had from the state so my "engineered" plan didn't mean much.

I also understand the concerns about Tommy Dock, once I looked at it, since it really looks like it was made for some northern pond.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
I actually understand that but when you are building something that has been engineered hundreds of times and it always comes out the same, at what point can't you say "standard practice".
Generally speaking, the trades are not going to look at the plan anyway beyond how big it is and they will do what they always do. In my case, after paying that engineer for his "details", one was wrong and the inspector made me add more rebar (2 #7s) citing a detail he had from the state so my "engineered" plan didn't mean much.

I also understand the concerns about Tommy Dock, once I looked at it, since it really looks like it was made for some northern pond.
Yea I thought so too, but after looking at the data I decided to go with it. The brackets hold 700lbs of down force each until they slip, there's 10 brackets. The tube is structural and holds 235lbs each, so it was actually over engineered based on what I need. The engineer says they calculate 100lbs/sq ft of load for a "hang out" type area. My dock only needs to be able to hold 1200lbs based on the engineer's calculations, when it will actually hold 2350lbs. Plus this is going in a fresh water canal, I'm not going to have the loads a real dock is going to put up with like fast moving water, or a big boat tied to it.
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Old 04-15-2019, 09:23 PM
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I love reading these stories. On our lake, we have to pay $500 to the Tennessee Valley Authority to get their approval on plans to put in boat docks, change permit ownership or make modifications to an existing dock or seawall system. Then they pass the plans onto the Corp. of Engineers to approve the application. Their main concern is that the dock is not oversize and that it's not a navigation hazard, especially for tugboats pushing barges. They also are concerned about the ecology of the dock being placed where it's going.

What's nice about Alabama, other than ridiculously low property taxes, is that there are no building codes out in the county. Blueprints and building permits are not required on docks and even houses. While contractors do usually follow national building codes, homes can be built any way the contractor wants to build it.

Our lake's pool doesn't vary more than 3 feet so we've not got any floating docks. Most docks and boathouses are built on 4 inch steel pipes driven into the lake bottom until it hits bedrock Most docks are now concrete poured over I beam steel with boathouses with concrete ceilings. Single boathouses are $65-70K with double boathouses pushing $100K. Most of these boathouses have a ridiculous amount of steel and posts and would easily pass any engineer's inspection. But thankfully structural engineer's plans are not required either..
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
I did, and they don't. They told me they've only had problems in one other state, and that was Washington. Washington just wanted data on the safety of the coatings (environmental hazard, etc). They sent me the data they have, which is just testing on the load of the bracket (700lbs before slipping down the pipe). I found a data sheet online saying the pipe can hold 235lbs each, which would put me at 2350lbs load capacity on the dock. According to this engineer it should withstand 100lbs/sq ft, my dock is going to be 128sq ft, so I'm almost double what he says it should hold. He says he doesn't feel comfortable putting his license on it because he doesn't know the material.
It does sound like the design exceeds the recommended limits for that type of dock. I don't blame the engineer for not stamping it.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:12 PM
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What I haven't heard is what is the up lift rating?
I understand in most places they assume gravity is the only force you have to deal with but how well will Tommy hold up when the wind gets under it and tries to make it a Tommy Glider? How about a surge tide?
Is that 1 1/2" pipe galvanized?
Warm salt water will eat that pretty fast.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mikefloyd View Post
It does sound like the design exceeds the recommended limits for that type of dock. I don't blame the engineer for not stamping it.
I think you mis-read what I typed, the dock could hold 2300lbs based on the calculations of the materials. The engineer says it only needs to hold 1200lbs, therefore the dock can handle twice the load that the engineer thinks it should be able to.
Originally Posted by gfretwell View Post
What I haven't heard is what is the up lift rating?
I understand in most places they assume gravity is the only force you have to deal with but how well will Tommy hold up when the wind gets under it and tries to make it a Tommy Glider? How about a surge tide?
Is that 1 1/2" pipe galvanized?
Warm salt water will eat that pretty fast.
The pipes are going to be driven into the ground just like a normal dock. The pipe is galvanized, the water is fresh water. This is going in a land locked fresh water canal in west Pembroke Pines, it's an electric motor only canal with no access by anyone who doesn't live here (no boat ramp).
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:13 AM
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The extraction force on a 1.5" (nominal 1.9" OD) pipe is going to be a whole lot less than a 6-8" piling. Driven into sand I am not sure what the down force rating would be either unless you hit coral rock. I do see why the engineers are reluctant to stamp this. It is not that the actual engineering is that hard, they just do not have that much experience and a lot of what passes for engineering is just what has worked before and is safe to approve.

I am guessing you have an HOA that is forcing you to get a permit in the first place
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Old 04-17-2019, 09:15 AM
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Did you find anyone? I have two friends who are engineers and can probably help.
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Old 04-17-2019, 10:30 AM
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[QUOTE=gfretwell;12442499]The extraction force on a 1.5" (nominal 1.9" OD) pipe is going to be a whole lot less than a 6-8" piling. Driven into sand I am not sure what the down force rating would be either unless you hit coral rock. QUOTE]

This is another great point. There is more to engineering something than what the connections are rated to hold.
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