On April 23, 1987, shortly after the official opening of the new mega Sav-On Foods Store at Station Square in Burnaby, British Columbia, an area of the building roof-top parking lot of approximately 6400 square feet collapsed into the food store, injuring 20 people.

A Commissioner’s Inquiry by the Canadian Government determined that one of the major factors that led to the ultimate collapse of the structure was the selection of the Structural Engineer on the basis of competitive bidding, with the structural design being done by the less skilled staff of the Structural Engineer, and much of the detailing of the connections being done by the subcontractor of the steel erector.

Although competitive bidding bids were required, the structural engineering work had been awarded to the third lowest bidder for the $5.4 million Sav-On Foods building. Unfortunately, this bidder’s fee was subsequently negotiated down by the building’s development manager. In the Commissioner’s Report, it was stated that:

“with tendering [bidding], relatively intense competition has driven fee levels down, and this has raised questions about the quality of professional services in this environment.”

The Commissioner’s Report went on to state that “bidding for Professional Services…caused a great deal of concern.”

The report stated that one approach to correcting the situation was to “pressure the owner of the building to provide sufficient compensation to permit the Engineer to do the work properly.”

This is an excerpt from a QBS Colorado presentation. Click here to download the PDF.