Ideally, municipalities should impose this obligation as a prerequisite for issuing construction permits on their territory. By complying with the provisions of the law, the owner ensures that the building satisfies current engineering standards. The Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec was successful in three penal actions against companies that violated the Engineers Act.
- Structures St-Joseph ltée, in St-Joseph-de-Beauce, was found guilty of having illegally used plans and drawings that had not been signed and sealed by an engineer belonging to the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec for the purpose of structural works for a building (dairy farm) whose cost exceeded $100,000. This occurred as part of the fabrication of roof trusses delivered to Construction Lionel Aubé inc. (Court of Québec No. 350-61-013071-031).The company's appeal was rejected (No. 350-36-00001-043 of March 31, 2005) by the Superior Court of Québec which upheld the guilty verdict rendered by the trial judge. Structures St-Joseph ltée was ordered to pay a fine of $1, 000 plus costs.
- 3093-0036 Québec inc., of Wickham, Québec was found guilty of having illegally executed foundation works for a building whose cost exceeded $100,000 (Ranchdale Farm), because these works were not executed under the authority of an engineer. It was also found guilty of having used a plan for foundation works for the same building that had not been signed and sealed by an engineer who was a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs. 3093-0036 Québec inc. was ordered to pay fines totaling $2,000 plus costs (Court of Québec No. 455-61-005890-056).
- Alexandre Erni, doing business as Construction Alex, having its place of business in Bromont, Québec, was found guilty of having illegally done framing works on a building whose cost exceeded $100,000 (Ranchdale Farm) because these works were not executed under the authority of an engineer. Alexandre Erni (Construction Alex) was ordered to pay a fine of $1,000 plus costs (Court of Québec No. 455-61-005889-058).
The three cases above in fact involve farm buildings, specifically foundation or framing works. Likewise the Court of Québec and the Superior Court established very clearly that plans for roof trusses are subject to the law and must be signed and sealed by an engineer in good standing. This applies to all types of buildings, whatever their commercial, industrial, institutional or agricultural purpose. Brief descriptions of three real cases where the owner or contractor did not have engineer's plans are appended.
Under the Engineers Act, only a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec can perform an act reserved for engineers or authenticate documents related to the practice of engineering. The primary mission of the OIQ is to ensure protection of the public by monitoring the practice of the profession by its 50,000 members.
As part of its mission, the OIQ can file penal actions against individuals or legal entities that represent themselves as engineers or practice the profession without being members of the OIQ. Through its program to detect illegal practice, the OIQ conducts inspections of construction sites in all regions of Québec in order to make sure that works covered by the Engineers Act are executed according to plans and drawings signed and sealed by an engineer.
Three real cases
- A farm building was erected without foundation or structural plans signed and sealed by an engineer. The owner and the contractor believed it was not necessary because the municipality did not require them to do so. The roof of the building had a clear span of more than 24 metres. The day after they were installed, the roof trusses failed. Fortunately, neither the owner or anyone else was underneath them at the time they collapsed.
- An owner wanted to add a third apartment in the basement of his building and for this, he had to repair its foundations. He undertook the work without plans signed and sealed by an engineer. Beams broke when he was building a temporary structure intended to support the building during the repairs. The final cost of the work substantially exceeded the amount the owner had estimated.
- A merchant decided to expand his grocery store without plans signed and sealed by an engineer, a project evaluated at $600,000. Fortunately, an inspector from the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) visited the site and found this grave defect. The situation could then be corrected.
About the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec
Founded in 1920, the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec has a membership of more than 60,000 engineering professionals in all fields, except forest engineering.
The mission of the OIQ is to ensure the protection of the public by supervising the practice of the profession within the framework of its constituent laws and ensure that the profession serves the public interest.