Johann (Hans) Duerichen has been the focus of an ongoing engineering investigation for two years, and on Dec. 16 the Discipline Committee of Engineers and Geoscientists BC issued an interim order imposing practice restrictions on his engineering licence.
“The nightmare began nearly two years ago, when I signed off on a home in Revelstoke, B.C.,” Duerichen said.
Being an Engineer from out of town was what first raised red flags to the Revelstoke building inspector who subsequently found issues that furthered his concern, according to Duerichen.
The Revelstoke building inspector then brought the issue to the attention of the engineering association, which, in turn, looked at the Revelstoke property, as well as, the development of the Smithers Home Hardware building.
“About a year ago the property owner of Smithers Home Hardware phoned me after he received a letter regarding the investigation,” Duerchien said. “I had no idea the board was looking at the Smithers property until that time.”
In the background section of the Decision and Reasons of the Discipline Committees report, the original complaint was made in February 2019 regarding “Mr. Duerichen’s conduct in relation to the construction of a residence for which he took responsibility for the structural, architectural, and geotechnical elements in Revelstoke.”
In October 2019, the Investigation Committee moved to further investigate Duerichen’s conduct, not only in the Revelstoke property, but into the construction of the retail store in Smithers.
The report sets out 13 allegations against Duerchien in relation to his work on the Revelstoke and Smithers projects, calling into question his qualifications with respect to structural, geotechnical and electrical engineering.
On Dec. 10, 2019 Smithers Town Council issued a Remedial Action Requirement Order to Home Hardware, citing the building posed a potential risk to public safety, triggering a safety audit from an independent structural engineer.
Regarding the structural review, Home Hardware provided a written statement.
“Smithers Home Hardware engaged an independent structural engineering firm which has completed a full structural review of the building,” the statement reads. “We engaged a local contractor who has begun implementing recommendations arising from the report pertaining to building code compliance. The safety of our customers and our staff is our priority and we look forward to completion of the modifications in the near future. We appreciate your patience in the event of any disruptions to our service level during this time.”
In the Disciplinary Notice issued to Duerichen in December, there will be a hearing relating to engineering services he provided for both the Revelstoke and Smithers properties in May
Until that time he may practice structural engineering only if his work is directly supervised by another professional engineer who assumes full responsibility for the work, the Order reads.
“Never in my 50 years working have I had anything like this go on,” Duerchien declared. “No two engineers look at things with the same eyes, or have the same idea in mind.
“You ask one engineer, and he will find something wrong with a design, ask another and he will find nothing wrong.”
However Duerichen does agree there are structural flaws with the Home Hardware roof.
“In the design of the roof, which I did not do, there is an overhang from the top roof to the bottom roof, in where the designers did not take into account for wind drift snow,” he said.
“As the head of the project, ultimately it was my responsibility, but I had no reason to question the qualified and certified designer of the roof once he put his seal on it.”
The roof was designed by Tricon Truss & Millwork Ltd. of Smithers. Interior News attempts to contact Tricon for comment have so far gone unanswered.