Articles

Home improvement Contractor

How to select home improvement contractor

Written by: Dana Pezzuti, Director, BE Structural

Keys to Success

  • Be an informed consumer (learn about the type of work you plan to have done)
  • Make sure the contractor is licensed as required by state law and see if there are any registered complaints to date.
  • Check with the Department of Consumer Protection to determine whether there have been confirmed problems with the contractor
  • Get at least three estimates
  • Get references (talk to previous clients of the contractor); only use well-established, experienced, legitimate contractors
  • Make sure you have a written agreement before beginning any home improvement project
  • Make sure the contract includes specific details (e.g., precise terms regarding materials to be used, finishing touches, homeowner’s right to inspect/approve the work, etc.) 

Definition of Home Improvement

Home improvement generally refers to any repair, replacement, alteration, renovation, remodeling, installation, construction, conversion or modernization of or in a private residence (including condominiums) or apartment.

Examples of home improvement categories include:

  • Waterproofing
  • Exterior siding, leaders and gutters, decks, patios, garages
  • Additional rooms
  • Roofs
  • Driveways and walkways
  • Kitchens and bathrooms
  • Masonry
  • Fences
  • Painting
  • Landscaping
  • Swimming pools
  • Fire or burglar alarms

Contracts

Before you sign a written agreement or select a home improvement contractor:

(1) License. Make sure that the contractor is appropriately licensed.

Pennsylvania: http://www.pacontractorslicense.com/

Maryland: http://167.102.227.6/license/mhic/mhicapply.shtml#req

Virginia: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/

(2) Insurance. It’s important that a contractor has adequate liability, disability, and Worker’s Compensation insurance — licensing in most Jurisdictions requires proper insurance. Check with the Jurisdictional Authority to find out the minimum amount of insurance required for the type of home improvement contractor you wish to hire.  Contact the Insurance Agent or Company to confirm that the Insurance is in good standing and if the can mail you a certificate of insurance directly.

(3) References. Ask the contractor to provide you with a written list of three of his/her most recent home improvement jobs that have been concluded in the last few months, including customer names and either a telephone number or address of the customers. Contact the customers and ask questions about the performance of the contractor.

 (4) Complaints. Check with the Jurisdictional Authority and your state or contuse Department of Consumer Protection to find out whether there are any complaints on file against the contractor.

 A three-year history of complaints is kept by the Department of Consumer Protection. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Law, you may request a copy of any complaint history. Information about complaints is provided to you for the purpose of making an informed decision. Therefore, you should carefully review the outcomes of complaints (note: complaints in and of themselves may not indicate a problem; some complaints, when investigated are found not to be justified).

Written contracts should generally include:

  • The name, address, license number, & federal employer identification number, if any, of the contractor.
  • The approximate date when the work will begin and the date certain on which the all of construction will be completed.
  • Detailed description of all of the work to be done, the materials and equipment to be used, etc.
  • Specification of whether any additional/related work needs to be performed in order to comply with laws, ordinances, building codes, etc.
  • Payment schedule, specified in dollars and cents. The schedule of payments must be specifically tied to the amount of work to be performed and to the materials and equipment to be supplied by the contractor. It’s advisable to schedule your payments so that the final payment is due 30 days or more after the work is completed in order to have time to assess whether there are problems with the work.
  • If the contract provides for a down payment, such down payment must not exceed $1000.00 or 15% of the contract price (not including finance charges), whichever is less.
  • A minimum one-year warranty guaranteeing the quality of workmanship.
  • A provision that the contractor obtain any necessary permits and provide to the owner a certificate of occupancy, if required.
  • A provision regarding notice of cancellation by the homeowner.

 Notes:

 a. Change orders. Make sure that no additional work is performed without prior written authorization of the person who hires the home improvement contractor. Generally, any such authorization must be on a contract change-order form, which shows the terms and reasons for the changes. Both parties must agree, in writing, to the change order.

 b. More information. For additional information about terms to include in a home improvement contract, contact the Department of Consumer Protection in your Jurisdiction.

 c. Vague terms. Don’t sign a contract that has vague terms or blank spaces.

Do’s and Don’ts 

DO

  • Plan ahead – make a checklist for yourself (you can use this list). Determine your needs, funds, including approximately 10% over the estimate for additional work that may have to be done, priorities and goals. Know what you must have in a home improvement project and what you can do without.
  • Be an informed consumer. Learn about the type of work you plan to have done: Review trade manuals (available in libraries & hardware stores) and use the Internet. Look at catalogs for styles.
  • References/previous experience. Evaluate contractors based upon your own experience or the experience of one of the contractor’s clients. Professional references can also be important: it may be useful to contact the contractor’s creditors, such as their banks, suppliers, and local businesses that he/she deals with regularly.
  • Legitimate business. Make sure the contractor is established on premises that you can visit; be wary of contractors who provide only a telephone number.
  • Multiple estimates. Obtain three or more estimates of the work; estimates should include very specific information about materials and labor. Review the estimates. If there is a wide range between the highest and lowest estimates, find out why.
  • Timeframes. Find out whether quotes/estimates are binding for a specific period of time. If not, discuss with the contractor what a reasonable timeframe is for the estimate to hold.
  • Building permits. Determine whether a building permit is needed and whether a professional engineer or registered architect must prepare construction drawings in order to obtain such permit.
  • Jurisdictional Authority regulations require the contractor to obtain the permit.
  • Ground rules. Make sure you discuss “ground rules” with the contractor. “Ground rules” include preparatory work, when the work will begin and is expected to end, and how the work site will be maintained (i.e., how clean it will be left, removal of rubbish).
  • Payments. Schedule your payments so that the final payment is due 30 days or more after the work is completed in order to have time to assess whether there are problems with the work.
  • Subcontractors. Get the names of subcontractors, if any. Check with suppliers and
  • Subcontractors to find out if they have been paid. It may be appropriate to get lien waivers from subcontractors before your final payment is made.
  • All subcontractors must maintain their own home improvement licenses. Electrical and plumbing work must be completed by licensed plumbers and electricians (check with the Department of Consumer Protection for information about plumbers and electricians).
  • Penalty clause. Include a penalty clause in the contract in case the contractor fails to start or finish the project by the specified date.
  • Job supervision. Determine who (e.g., homeowner, foreman, contractor) will supervise the job in order to ensure that the project is being done properly. Even if a foreman or the contractor is designated to supervise, you should keep a watchful eye on the contractor or hire an independent construction inspector to over see the construction and payment requests.
  • Extra materials. Obtain materials such as tiles, siding, wallpaper, and paint to have for repairs and so you don’t have trouble matching colors in the future.

 DON’T

  • Don’t  be pressured into having unnecessary work done; don’t rush into signing a contract.
  • Don’t jump at “special offers”; check them carefully and make sure they really are “special” (a good price) and that they are not lower in cost because of inferior materials or workmanship.
  • Don’t pick the first contractor that you see advertised or hear about or use contractors that solicit door-to-door; don’t select a contractor unless you have checked references.
  • Don’t  begin a home improvement project without a written agreement.
  • Don’t sign a contract that has vague terms or blank spaces.
  • Don’t give the contractor a cash deposit; don’t give more than the minimum deposit required.
  • Don’t pay a contractor in cash. However, if you do, make sure that you are given a clear receipt.
  • Don’t (avoid) select a contractor if you don’t feel comfortable with him/her; you need to be able to resolve problems, express your opinion, etc. 
  • Don’t alter plans once work is in progress unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t give a contractor a key to your house or leave him/her unattended.

WHAT TO DO WHEN THINGS GO WRONG

  • The best strategy is to prevent problems – please refer to the other links in this site for guidance about how to get started. However, if you believe that your home improvement contractor is performing in an unacceptable manner.
  • The least costly, least difficult route is to first try to resolve problems with the contractor. Consider and discuss terms of the contract.
  • Contact your local building inspector. Although building inspectors won’t take sides, they also have an interest in ensuring that work is in accordance with building standards and codes.
  • Contact the Department of Consumer Protection. Complaints to the Department of Consumer Protection, which will be investigated, must be in writing. Be prepared to provide a copy of your contract and other documentation, including evidence of payments.

Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org

Remodelers Council (NAHB) www.nahb.org

National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) www.nari.org

Office of the Attorney General

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act Helplines:

Consumer Helpline 888.520.6680

Contractor Helpline 717.772.2425

Attorney General of Maryland

(410) 576-6300, 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free

Attorney General of Virginia:  http://www.oag.state.va.us/

Building Envelopes

The Building Envelope-Why is it so important?

Three factors to consider when designing New Building Envelopes

Written by: Dana Pezzuti, Director, BE Structural

Much like a human being has skin, an outermost layer,so does a building. This is its “ envelope” or sometimes called its “ facade”. A building envelope is not only the outer, visible layer but also what is under it. Often thermal and moisture barriers are installed under an outer layer to protect a building’s exterior and interior.

One of the most common causes of building envelope failure is moisture. When water infiltrates a building facade, its first line of defense; the structure is exposed to multiple risks.

Not only can structural damage occur from unwanted water but mold and biological material can begin to take hold causing a secondary problem sometimes worse than the initial structural damage-

Some types of mold can cause serious health risks and even fatality, if left un-treated.

A bad building envelope can turn a beautiful, new building into unusable space within a short amount of time.

Because the building envelope must work as part of a larger ecosystem, it is crucial to design one that takes into consideration all aspects of new design and construction.

Below we have outlined a few important factors to consider before designing a new building envelope

1.What is the building use?

If the structure in question is a new medical facility or hospital, indoor air quality is of the utmost importance. Within a hospitals’s walls, there is a myriad of factors to consider including the health and welfare of its occupants, expensive machinery potentially vulnerable to extreme temperature or water as well as building location.

2.Where is the structure being built and what is the climate in that geographical area?

Often, a thermal barrier is used under a building’s exterior to make sure the transfer of heat and energy happen effectively for its natural surroundings. For example, in climates where winter brings cold temperatures and summer hot ones, it is important to design a building envelope that can perform well in both extremes.

However, in a climate where weather temperatures do not fluctuate greatly, a different approach is necessary.

Lastly, a building envelope must be prepared to withstand natural weather events in any given area and meet not only local building codes but also industry standards.

3.What types of major storms and weather events  occur where the new building is occurring? Are extra measures required under the local building code to prevent failure in the event of a hurricane?

A qualified engineer or architect is the best professional to hire for building envelope design and planning.

Even with a qualified professional, the building envelope can be compromised if a design flaw or construction error occurs. This is why this complex system is now getting more attention. It is no longer a “ feature” or afterthought. It must be considered in the earliest design stages much like a building’s foundation.

BE Structural Facade engineering

Filing for the Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP)

One death or injury as a result of a façade failure is one too many. Any building owners with a building higher than six stories are required to file a technical façade report through the Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP). Local laws and regulations vary among different cities, but the dangers of a faulty façade are everywhere. Filing your FISP report isn’t difficult when you have the help of façade engineering consultants. These consultants can help building owners with their inspections and go through the process of filing the necessary paperwork.

What the FISP Accomplishes

The FISP has the sole purpose of ensuring buildings are safe for people inside and outside. The job of façade engineering companies is to conduct thorough inspections to determine whether buildings are safe, unsafe or safe with a repair and maintenance program. By conducting routine inspections and filing FISP reports every five years, façade engineering consultants can keep buildings safe for employees inside the building and any people near the building.

Filing Requirements

An expert in façade engineering may be called a Registered Design Professional or a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector. The Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector has the ability to file the reports online on behalf of the building owner. However, the building owner must also create an online account in order to authorize the reports.

The documents filed by façade engineering companies include photographs of objects needing attention or repairs, a recommended repair report, any findings not evident in photographs, any work permits used or required and more. Once the Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector submits the report, it will undergo technical review and any missing documents or notes may be requested, if applicable.

Consequences for Not Filing the FISP Report

Ignorance of the law is no excuse when it comes to filing the FISP report. Penalties of up to $1,000 per year and $250 per month could accumulate as a result of being late to file. This includes filing the initial report, not fixing anything needing repairs within the designated timeframe and not filing an amended report, if applicable. Not being timely with the report could cause building owners to pay unnecessary fines and penalties, and possibly even cause them to have another façade engineering inspection.

Getting a regular façade safety inspection isn’t just recommended; it’s the law. To get in touch with the best façade engineering company to help you maintain compliance, be sure to contact us.

C36A52CC-87D2-4F92-B142-4B154B022847

Major Challenges in Wastewater Management

Wastewater Management


Wastewater treatment systems are designed to treat used water so it can be recycled safely and put back into the environment. Advances in technology have begun to make these processes more streamlined than ever. These advances do not mean that there are not challenges to overcome when it comes to wastewater management.

Energy Usage

Energy requirements necessary to operate a wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest challenges they face. The wastewater filtration process consumes between 3 and 15% of the nation’s electricity annually.

Many wastewater treatment plants need upgrades throughout the United States. Here are some of the biggest challenges ahead and some potential solutions to fix them.

Recently efforts have been focused on discovering greener approaches to treating wastewater. By incorporating greener processes, we can reduce energy consumption and lessen the overall strain to the power grid.

Staffing Issues


Similar to other industries, finding qualified plant operators has become a challenge. Properly trained workers skilled in the process of wastewater treatment is a must. There are not enough employees to go around. Another aspect of this issue is that typically treatment facility operator management can account for up to 30% of annual operational costs.

Finding ways to incorporate automated processes and remote operation tactics may help. Such improvement will help reduce the reliance on employees as well as labor hours needed. It may not fill in the gaps in employment needs or reduce all operation costs, but it would lower the stress and burden on existing employees and budgets.

Sludge Protection

Sludge is the residue generated during wastewater treatment. A major challenge environmentally for wastewater treatment facilities is how to dispose of this excess sludge produced during the process.

Safe and long term solutions for sludge disposal is an essential component of any properly operating treatment facility. Sludge can be recycled and used in agricultural applications because it contains organic matter and nutrients useful to agriculture.

Treatment Plant Environmental Footprint

Though wastewater treatment plants are designed to filter water and make it eco-friendly, they can leave their own environmental footprint from the treatment process. In simplest terms, the organic matter removed from the water needs to go somewhere.

There have been recent improvements in green technology that improve the way water is being treated. These innovations will help reduce the environmental footprint left behind by water treatment facilities from disposal of what is left behind after clean water has been discharged.

These are, by far, not the only challenges facing treatment facilities and the process of wastewater management. These particular areas are the most glaring and most impactful. We recognize the many issues facing local municipalities and private industry when it comes to wastewater management. BE Structural is here to help find innovative ways to address these challenges with engineering services for wastewater treatment facilities and large equipment supporting biosolid technology.

2020 structural trends

2020 Structural Engineering Trends

Structural Engineering Trends for 2020

The world is continually evolving and changing around us as each year passes. One group that feels the impact of this change is structural engineers.
 
Structural engineers are deeply involved in how to develop the areas we live in and the structures in which we live and work. They are required to meet the shifting demands of our ever-changing world. To meet the demand, solutions are needed, and these solutions develop into yearly trends. Looking to 2020, here are a few trends that seem likely to take shape.

Funding and processes

Innovations in technology are being rolled out at an unbelievable pace. These advancements allow both engineers and builders to streamline their processes. By improving processes, this enables teams to lower overhead and turn around jobs more quickly and efficiently.

Going green

As technology improvement has developed, one of the areas most impacted is the environment. New techniques are allowing structural engineers to take advantage of methods that reduce energy consumption on new projects. The benefits of these changes will be seen and felt for decades to come.

Modular construction

Though not necessarily new, modular construction continues to be an innovative way to design and construct buildings more quickly without sacrificing their integrity and safety. This process is mainly employed in the commercial building industry where box units are either stacked or set side by side.
 
More recently, modular construction methodologies have begun to be used on residential projects such as basement construction for new homes. There are even areas where entire sections of the home are built off-site and assembled on the foundation, reducing time and labor.

Zero waste practices

Not necessarily a new trend, zero waste practices are becoming more prevalent and look to be more widely adopted. Adopting zero waste practices benefits all involved as it reduces waste when certain materials see their end of life functionality. By incorporating methodology that
takes this into account, parts can be replaced rather than disposed of entirely. One example would be using bolts rather than welds. The benefit of this method is that in future expansion, bolts could be reused rather than entire welded sections needing to be demolished.

Sustainable materials

As a desire for sustainability has increased, so has the progress of new methods of construction. Structural engineers have designed and implemented technology to improve building safety. One example is systems designed to detect seismic activity in areas prone to earthquakes. This technology allows the buildings to detect and react to changes in the earth as they occur. As if this were not enough, engineers have also more recently designed 3D printing and concrete that, upon damage, can repair itself! 
 
As technology continues to advance, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the engineering process and building improvements. As in the past, these advancements will be exciting to watch develop and even more beneficial to us all. BE Structural is positioned to take advantage of these advancements as they occur. Contact us today to see how we can work together and take advantage of these new trends.

questions to ask a structural engineer before hiring

Ten Questions to Ask a Structural Engineer Before Hiring

Is your business in the beginning stages of planning a major project? Here are ten questions to interview potential structural engineers and make sure  you hire a reputable company. 

What specific field do you specialize in?

Does your potential structural engineer specialize in residential or commercial building? State and local codes for each are different, so it’s important they are familiar with your specific type of project. Find their website and look at their “Our Services” or similar to see exactly what work they do. 

What projects have you completed?

The projects the firm has completed can serve as a good indication of how they service their clients. Do they focus on residential, short-term projects, or more involved long-term projects that require detailed reporting and monitoring? It would be a good idea to call them and ask for references from previous projects so you can get an idea of their scope of work and capabilities.

Are you aware of local code requirements?

Construction requirements change frequently. Ensure the firm you are researching is up-to-date on all local and state building codes. This will alleviate a lot of headaches during your project. 

How do you collaborate with other contractors on the project?

Ensure the firm can work alongside any builders or contractors you would prefer to hire for your project. When checking references, find out how timely the structural engineer is at replying to emails or returning calls. See what hours they are available including after hours and weekends. Also, check to see what their holiday hours are if your project will overlap a holiday. The last thing you want is contractors to be awaiting input from your structural engineer. 

How do you invoice projects?

Request a letter outlining the structural engineer’s fees. Also, ask for a quote in advance of any work. If you have already defined the majority of the scope of your project, ask for a fixed design fee. Throughout your project, be leery of unexpected charges that arise and question them. Check to see how the firm typically expects payment. Do they require payment before releasing their final product, or do they set up accounts?

What are your qualifications?

Ask to meet with whomever your likely point of contact would be for your project to discuss their background and qualifications. You should feel comfortable communicating with this person and in their ability. 

Does the structural engineer understand the scope of the project?

Request confirmation that they understand the scope of work, their involvement in it,  deliverables, and expected deadlines. 

Can you provide proof of insurance?

Structural engineers need to carry some level of liability insurance. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy or other proof of coverage. It should be up-to-date and cover the type of work your project entails. 

Do you have any repeat clients?

Repeat clients is a good indication of a structural engineer’s trustworthiness and work ethic. Review project types as well to assure they match the scope of work you are looking for. For instance, repeat residential clients may not signal an understanding of commercial project knowledge..

Do you have references we can contact?

Reputation matters, and if you ask around in your community you will find out pretty quickly how your potential structural engineer is perceived. In addition to talking to other clients, check the company’s online reviews for an unaudited look at their abilities. 

the future of solar

Current Trends in Solar Energy

As climate change continues to wreak havoc on our temperatures and sunlight, more and more people and businesses are becoming aware that solar energy is a great way to be environmentally friendly. From small families to big corporations, the benefits of solar energy are endless and provide an easy and affordable way to help sustain the environment we live in and depend on. Not only is this renewable energy great for the environment but the financial benefits are abundant. There are so many great things happening in the solar industry.

Farming 

With the decline in farming due to cost, a dairy farm in California, Lima Ranch Dairy, is combatting this problem by using solar energy. By reducing their operating costs, they can ensure that they can continue to deliver quality products to their customers while earning a profit. While you may not immediately think that farming would be an industry that could use solar panels, keep in mind that anything that uses electricity can be powered by the sun. 

Travel

Even airports are seeing and understanding the need for renewable energy. John F. Kennedy International Airport was just awarded the contract to begin New York City’s biggest solar project by having rooftop solar panels on a building and parking lot. With the goal of reducing emissions by 80% no later than 2050, this is a great step in the right direction for JFK International Airport.

Manufacturing

A company called Heliogen uses mirrors to produce some major heat, up to 1,100 degrees which have the potential to replace fossil fuels. Cement factories, as well as steel or petrochemicals, need 1,100 degrees in order to produce their materials so regular solar panels would not have been an option for them. This is a revolutionary discovery by Heliogen and the project is now backed by Bill Gates. Because using these solar mirrors uses sunlight, it could save the manufacturers a lot of money compared to other energy sources.

what to look for during a building inspection

4 Things to Look for During a Building Inspection

Whether you need a building inspection because you are buying or selling a building, want to do some renovations, or want to add any kind of addition to the building, there are some things you should be aware of. An inspector is going to go through a list of items and determine whether they are acceptable enough to pass inspection or whether some improvements need to be made. Regardless of whether it is a home or commercial building, the following items are key to watch out for during a building inspection. 

Foundation

Certainly the basis of any building is the foundation and having cracks in it can be extremely dangerous. This is especially the case if you have plans to add on to the building or renovate. Additionally, new codes can make fixing things like the foundation tremendously expensive. 

Walls

 If you are planning any type of renovation to your building you need to understand the walls that are load bearing before you start demolition. A load bearing wall can sometimes be taken down by putting up a beam if you so choose. 

Cracks

One of the most obvious signs that can indicate issues are crack patterns.  A structural engineer will study the crack patterns in the walls of your building and determine if they indicate problems.  If the crack patterns show issues, the structural engineer can provide solutions to correct these issues in the form of CAD drawings. Don’t worry, they will explain everything so you understand. 

Building Code Violations 

Included with a structural assessment is often a property condition assessment. The engineer will determine the life left of mechanical systems, but more importantly they will be able to point out any building code violations. Many times building owners are unaware of such violations and only find out at the time of an insurance claim or other unforeseen incident. 

Having a building inspection is a step in the right direction if you are preparing for future changes. Stay alert for the above-mentioned risks. 

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

As a contractor, you probably already know about all the things that homeowners are concerned about.  Flooring vibrations is one of the most common complaints you may hear. Homeowners tend to assume that when their house is being built or remodeled that the flooring will be perfect and have no issues. The problem with this issue is that it is subjective to each person. For some homeowners, they will be happy no matter what.  For others, they will feel the vibrations immediately. There can be additions of furniture or other items in the home that may bring out the vibrations that may not have been noticed before. 

In order to attempt to reduce or eliminate vibrations, there are several things you can do as a contractor.  First, lateral bridging is an option but if it is not done perfectly then squeaking can occur down the road, rendering the work you did pointless. Some contractors may attempt to put the joists close together, but that actually does nothing for the vibrations in the floor. So you may better be prepared to deal with any homeowner complaints, here are the common live load deflections used in the United States. 

Live load deflection limited to L/360 

This is the minimum deflection that can be used based on the United States building codes. L/360 is structurally sound to be able to carry the load but means there will be a higher chance of floor vibrations being noticed. If you know for a fact that your homeowner will not care about this issue, you can use this live load deflection. It might be a good idea to discuss the possibility of floor vibrations with your customers.

Live load deflection limited to L/480 

L/480 is 33% stiffer than L/360 so you would think that this would almost eliminate any potential issues. This is the most commonly used deflection for residential buildings and most contractors.  Most likely, you are using this with your current jobs, and that is okay but there still is a chance of some flooring imperfections. Using joists that are 9½” and 11⅞” deep will certainly make issues more likely with an attached ceiling. 

Live load deflection limited to L/960

The best deflection option out there for reducing floor vibrations is L/960 as it is 100% stiffer than L/480. Homeowners that will be very picky and notice any amount of floor vibration, or will specifically go looking for it, are great proponents for this option. 

Customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to any business owner, but almost more so for contractors. You can build a homeowner the most beautiful house with quality craftsmanship and they still might find an issue if they have floor vibrations.  Again, something as small as adding a kitchen island can cause these vibrations to be more noticeable to those who may not have noticed before. Using the stiffer live load deflection may help keep your customer satisfaction high. 

Five Major Reasons Why Building Envelopes Fail, & Prevention Tips

At BE Structural, we see our fair share of building envelope failures. Think of a building envelope as the shell or skin of a structure. When exposed, the structure’s primary framing and building systems beneath it become vulnerable. A building envelope is therefore an essential component of the building’s infrastructure, creating a barrier in protecting it from external forces, primarily weather. Moreover, a building’s envelope regulates interior heat and moisture levels, while offering first impressions of its aesthetic appeal. A building envelope includes walls, doors, windows, foundations and roofs. So, why do building envelope failures happen?

Five Common Reasons Why Building Envelopes Fail

  1. Design Flaws
    The building envelope is a unique system requiring precise design-build engineering expertise to get it right. While facades may present desired aesthetic impressions, they may not be the best choices for intended uses. To err is human, architects may create designs that specify inappropriate materials.A common mistake occurs when building materials do not meet thermal movements in the area. Architects may forget Mother Nature always has the last say. Regardless of stone or masonry, temperature changes inevitably create cracks and loosen joints in structures. Design deficiencies also occur from water penetration, resistance and structural capacities. When water penetrates the building envelope, moisture becomes trapped, causing materials to warp. This also creates the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow—and introducing a new problem.
  2. Construction Defects
    Building envelopes fail due to construction defects or poor workmanship. This ultimately results in serviceability issues or worse—structural failures. For instance, subcontractors may minimize costs by reducing size, weight and the number of different components essential to maintain structural integrity. This is where BE Structural engineers mitigate defects by inspecting and assessing every required code is incorporated, to uphold the highest building standards to ensure the building’s lasting value.
  3. Poor Workmanship
    Poor workmanship arises during construction booms with many inexperienced, untrained and unsupervised personnel working on projects. Often, building envelope components are improperly installed, disregarding manufacturer specifications. Minimize this danger by putting the right people in the right job and providing a quality control program of installation, observation and inspection.
  4. Natural Disasters
    When a building envelope is exposed to major storms, wind-driven rains and hurricane-force winds, problems compound. This scenario includes structures that have been designed properly. A homeowner may have diligently installed siding and sub-systems correctly; but disasters happen, exceeding design expectations. Unexpected fluctuations in temperatures, hurricanes, and pounding rains damage even the best designed and installed features of any building. Tip: To lessen these weather effects, perform routine checks and regular maintenance repairs.Building envelopes are exposed to numerous elements, making them susceptible to damage even when “looking safe.” Be sure transitions and areas around doors and windows are checked regularly to avoid water from penetrating. Also remember that siding and other envelope components do not last forever; sometimes it makes sense to replace them, than spend lots of money later, on repairs. Be Structural is experienced in building envelope mitigation issues, and ready to offer cost-savings tips.
  5. Costs of Repair Will Only Increase
    Late maintenance and poor repairs inevitably contribute to problematic transitions and joint seals. Say a homeowner decides to remove a gutter expansion joint instead of repairing it. When it rains heavily, water will flow in all directions, with gutters receiving more water than they can handle. This example of poor maintenance adds to water intrusion, further weakening building envelopes.Seasoned property managers and homeowners know putting off repairs always costs more in the long run. Weather and natural deterioration of materials over time exact heavy tolls. Wintry conditions and freeze-thaw cycles severely impact building exteriors, leading to cracks in masonry, split caulked joints and deteriorating mortar joints. Roofing systems weaken and degrade with snow piling on and melting off. If a building’s degradation is not monitored and maintained, it snowballs to unsafe living conditions.In addition, expenses to repair and fix degraded conditions are more exorbitant. However, being proactive and conducting routine inspection, repairs and maintenance, will protect property owners from unnecessary emergencies. BE Structural engineers are happy to inspect and detect problem areas before water and moisture cause extensive and expensive damage to properties.

Tips for Mitigating Envelope Failures

  • How to mitigate, even prevent, building envelope failures? At BE Structural,
    We start with a properly designed building envelope engineered to follow all applicable codes and standards.
  • Second, we select appropriate building materials.
  • Third, prioritizing these first two critical functional steps means incorporating them into the early stages of design-build, to prevent future failures and serviceability issues. Every building component must be well-maintained for the building’s weatherproofing and structural soundness.
  • Fourth, we recommend consistently inspecting and maintaining the building envelope.
    BE Structural uses thermal imagers to detect moisture intrusion and building envelope failures.

If a building is well-maintained and kept safe, current tenants and potential buyers will continue to enjoy living and working there. Tenants spared from leaks are happy tenants. That’s why BE Structural believes an ounce of prevention saves pounds of costly cures.

Benefits of residential solar

The Benefits of Residential Solar and Whether It’s Right for You

Written by  Bret Engle

Residential solar continues to grow in popularity. This is largely due to the fact that solar power, as well as other types of renewable energy, is quickly becoming more affordable for households throughout the United States. What’s more, it’s also becoming increasingly abundant. This article will discuss the advantages of using residential solar, as well as which roof types are ideal for panels and how the installation process works.

THE BENEFITS

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest advantages to using solar power:

It provides you with energy independence.

One of the most appealing aspects of solar power is that it provides freedom and control of your electricity. Many components of the US power grid are outdated, and it has resulted in increased outages over the last decade-plus. By installing solar panels along with a home battery unit, households can have enough electricity to power their home day and night — no matter what is going on with the grid in their neighborhood.

It’s clean and renewable.

Environmentally speaking, solar energy is ideal because it’s completely clean and renewable. The need for coal, natural gas, and oil is significantly reduced, which helps to mitigate the harmful impact these fossil fuels have on the air, water, and soil. No pollution is caused by solar power, and as more people use it, it can help to protect the earth from global warming.

It now makes sense financially.

Another appealing part of solar energy is that it’s beginning to make more sense for the average American household to invest in it. Residential solar costs have dropped more than 70 percent over the last 10 years, and home battery units have become more affordable as well. Plus, solar panels are low-maintenance, they can help you save on your monthly utility bill, they come with tax benefits, and they can raise your home’s value.

If you need help getting the funds to install solar panels, there are financing options available. According to Redfin, if you qualify for the FHA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage program, it will incorporate the costs of installing panels into your mortgage. The program also provides assistance for other home modifications that benefit the environment.

THE BEST ROOF TYPES

Most residential solar panels are mounted on the roof of a home because it takes up the least amount of space. While pretty much any type of roof can be used for panels — given that the roof is in good condition — there are a few kinds that work best. For instance, asphalt shingles are strong and durable, and it’s fairly easy to mount panels on this type of roof.

While tile roofs typically require brackets to be installed along with the solar panels, installation should still be pretty simple. These kinds of roofs come at a higher price, but they ultimately require little maintenance and typically last longer than some other types. Like tile roofs, metal roofs are long-lasting and low-maintenance. They also make for the fastest solar panel installation, and that can save you some money on labor.

INSTALLATION

Installing residential solar is a process. Typically, an engineer will come to evaluate your home to ensure that it’s compatible with a solar system; the engineer will also make sure the roof is in good condition. Then, there’s a lot of paperwork, though most of it is handled by the installer. The paperwork includes applying for solar incentives and permits, and it’s important to have a basic understanding of each document.

After that, you’ll be ready to consult with the installer to choose and order the equipment (e.g., solar panels, inverters, etc.), and then schedule the installation. This process includes things such as roof preparation, electrical wiring, attaching racking to the roof, putting the panels on, and connecting the inverters. You can expect the entire process to take about one to three days, depending on the type of roof and the size of the system.

Changing to solar energy comes with a lot of benefits. However, be sure to consider what kind of roof you have, and make sure you’re prepared for the installation process. Most importantly, continue to educate yourself on residential solar so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s right for you.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Building Collapse - Notre Dame

Why do we grieve for a collapsed building?

Written by Dana Pezzuti, BE Structural, PC

I’ve read a few pieces that try to put it into words.  Since the fire that claimed much of the structure of Notre Dame, it seems social media is buzzing with opinions on why we shouldn’t grieve for this building and better uses of our time and energy.

After all, what is a building but a bunch of materials stacked, framed and bolted together?

As an individual working within the architecture/engineering/construction industry, my thoughts are a bit different.

For building designers, consulting engineers, architects, masons and carpenters- a building is so much more than a bunch of inanimate objects. It is a place of shelter, a place of congregation- carefully thought out, tested and engineered.  It is a work of art that is both beautiful and functional.

Every year, every decade, every century it endures it is a testament to the expertise, craftsmanship and the newly discovered technology that was used to build it.  Every time a war, plague or storm fail to destroy it-the more the structure becomes a benchmark of human progress. 

There were no building codes in place when the cathedral of Notre Dame was constructed.  Let’s remember that.  The engineering, science and math it took to ensure stability is mind boggling considering very few people understood the principles that we embrace today.

There were not building inspectors handing out citations for shoddy work.  No stamped drawings carefully reviewed by a structural engineer and permitted.  There were only human beings putting their faith in one another and inspiring others to join their cause.  All of our modern day safety measures came about hundreds of years later and even in 2019, buildings fail and bridges collapse-And we mourn the loss of human life.

So when a 700 year old cathedral built in the Dark Age’s burns, we do grieve a little bit.  Just as we grieve if our own home or our neighbor’s home is destroyed.  Not for the loss of bricks and stone but for the people who came together, the memories they made and the children they raised under its common roof.

In the case of Notre Dame, we mourn for the carpenter who worked on the building 700 years ago.  We mourn for the architects and masons that came together to create a functional masterpiece so long ago.  Those who jumped at the chance to be a part of human advancement without question.  Those who poured their heart and soul into its creation but never saw the final result.  That is why we mourn the loss of this building.

#NotreDame  #Building Collapse               #Structural Engineering #ForensicEngineeirng

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The Different Ways a Steel Structure Can Fail

The job of every structural engineer is to ensure any given building is safe and structurally sound. This can occur during the initial design of a building or during the inspection of an existing building. When it comes to steel structures, it’s hard to imagine them failing due to the strength of the building materials themselves. However, there are several different ways steel structures can fail, and most of them can be prevented with the help of great structural engineering practices. Here are the main ways steel structures can fail.

Insufficient Strength With Connections

Almost every time you hear about a steel structure failing, it’s because of a connection issue. A structural engineer has to put in an incredible amount of thought and detail when designing the joints and connections to ensure they are strong enough. Calculating the strength of joints and connections is a tedious process, and it’s important for the structural engineer and the construction professionals to be on the same page. Any type of miscommunication in the type of bolt or other materials to use can lead to insufficient strength and possible failure.

Tension Failures

Another possible failure in steel structures is putting too much tension on any given member. It takes a significant amount of tension to create this type of failure, and most of the time it only occurs when the structural engineer makes a mistake in the design process. Tension failures are widely known as the most dangerous type of failure, so every structural engineer places a high level of importance on it in the design phase.

Too Much Weight On Beams

Beams can fail in a steel structure as well. It’s fairly simple to figure out when this type of failure will occur, since it happens when the weight on the beams exceed the weight limit they can handle. Lateral torsional buckling is the main concern for every structural engineering company, since it involves predicting where the most significant amount of weight will be placed on the beam. The strongest point of the beam is in the center of it, so buckling could occur and lead to beam failure if the weight on either end of the beam is too much for it to handle.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals that has an extensive portfolio of construction and engineering projects. Whether a steel structure undergoes minor local buckling or has experienced significant structural failure, we have an expert ready to evaluate the situation and provide the best solutions. No project is too large, small or complex for our structural engineering professionals, so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time when you need us.

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The Problems the Millennium Tower is Facing in San Francisco

When the $550 million construction for the Millennium Tower in San Francisco was announced, there were no shortage of buyers ready to spend millions of dollars to purchase living space. However, less than a decade later, those buyers have lost significant value in their investment due to various unforeseen issues to the tower.

Various structural engineering companies, as well as geotechnical companies, are evaluating the building daily to analyze the cracks, sinking and leaning that are clearly present. While the problems with the Millennium Tower are evident, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the safety of it, who is responsible for these issues and what structural engineering experts are going to do about it.

How Safe Is The Building Today?

The good news is the last time a structural engineer evaluated the building, it was deemed to be safe to live in, even if an earthquake occurred. However, the fact that the sinking of the building doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon can’t be ignored. Structural engineering experts estimate the building will continue sinking between 1.5” to 2” every year, which simply means action needs to be taken now to prevent a potential disaster in the ensuing years.

Where The Blame Lies

Initial inspections indicate the main problem being in the foundation of the Millennium Tower. The soil it’s built on consists of sand, clay and mud, and the foundation does not even extend far enough down to reach solid bedrock. There’s some controversy surrounding the City of San Francisco and why they allowed the construction and design team to not anchor the foundation low enough to reach the bedrock.

Another area of blame has to do with the construction of the transit center that was newly built adjacent to the tower. The construction company responsible for building the Millennium Tower is suggesting the company that constructed the transit center pumped too much groundwater during their project, which caused the sand under the Millennium Tower to compress, and has resulted in the sinking.

Possible Solutions To Fix The Millennium Tower

As structural engineering experts continue to discover the reasons why the Millennium Tower is experiencing these problems, they are also developing short-term and long-term solutions. One of the possible solutions includes removing some of the top floors in order to reduce the weight of the tower. The most discussed solution for the long-term is to bore micro piles on the side of the building that’s sinking in order to eventually anchor it to the bedrock underneath. Once this occurs, the high side of the building must sink to the level of the low side before the anchoring can occur. This proposed solution could take up to five years and cost several hundred million dollars, but it is the most viable solution for the long-term, as analyzed by structural engineering experts.

At BE Structural, we always monitor these types of stories and are actually involved in many of them. We are a structural engineering company with experts coming from many different backgrounds and having various levels of experience. If you have any specific questions about the problems the Millennium Tower in San Francisco is facing, or have a need for a structural engineer, contact us today.

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What Qualities Should Your Structural Engineer Have?

When you have a new construction project or are doing major renovation work, one of the first experts to call is a structural engineer. However, just like not all structural engineering companies are created equally, neither are individual structural engineers. The best ones will work with the architects, designers and other contractors you hire in order to ensure everyone is on the same page with the same vision for the project. Before you hire a structural engineer for your project, make sure they possess these qualities.

Creativity

No two buildings are exactly alike, so your structural engineer should use their knowledge, skills and expertise to design the safest and strongest building for your particular project. This includes evaluating the weather and climate and using building materials that will withstand the harshest elements. Structural engineers have to be creative in order to build a safe structure, while still fulfilling the needs and vision of the homeowner or property owner.

Extreme Attention To Detail

There are plenty of obvious reasons why a structural engineer has to be extremely detailed in the work they do. One seemingly minor mistake could lead to a fatal flaw in the design of the building. And the structural engineer needs to follow through with the other contractors who are actually building the structure to ensure everyone is on the same page and there’s a complete understanding of their thought process.

Innovative Strategic Thinking

With the technology available to every structural engineering company today, there’s no excuse for not using innovative technology to help design a building. The challenge every structural engineer faces is being able to satisfy the needs and desires of the individuals, while also adhering to safety regulations, sustainability practices and more. It requires innovative and strategic thinking to be completely well-rounded, and taking the time to find a structural engineer who possesses these qualities is well worth the effort.

Problem Solving

Problems will always arise in any project, no matter how large or small it is. Whether it’s external factors like the weather, or other unique challenges that aren’t evident immediately, a good structural engineer must be able to think quickly. The best structural engineering professionals will be able to identify problems before they occur and plan on a solution, but sometimes it’s not possible. In either situation, coming up with the best solutions possible is an important quality for structural engineers to have.

At BE Structural, we have a unique mix of structural engineering professionals that work together every day. Each of our structural engineers are well-rounded when it comes to their education, experience and background, and we are constantly in collaboration with one another to enhance our skills. We strive to be your go-to resource for any structural engineering needs, so don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of service to you.

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5 Common Structural Issues in Industrial Buildings

The manufacturing industry is arguably the most important industry in the United States. While it’s important to keep manufacturing machinery and equipment maintained in order to keep production going, it’s equally as important to maintain the industrial buildings where the work is done. If the integrity and safety of an industrial building is compromised, it could lead to the manufacturing plant being shut down until a structural engineer can come in for an evaluation. While significant events like this are not likely with preventative maintenance practices, here are five of the most common structural issues in industrial buildings seen by structural engineering companies.

Interior and Exterior Wall Damage

Both interior and exterior walls will eventually experience some damage in industrial buildings. With forklifts, operations vehicles and other heavy equipment constantly being used, it’s inevitable for some damage to occur. The main thing to do is have a structural engineer evaluate the damage and have it repaired right away if necessary. Most of the damage is cosmetic, but it’s always better to be cautious.

Damage To Columns

Depending on how severe the damage is, a damaged column could be very dangerous from a structural standpoint. It seems like every column in an industrial building is in the way for forklift operators, which means they will get dinged up occasionally. But as long as the damage is minor and doesn’t have a structural impact, then operations can continue as normal.

Inadequate Framing

Many industrial buildings are very old. During the original design of the building, the framing was likely designed to support a certain amount of stress. When structural engineering experts see an issue with framing in an industrial building, most of the time it’s because too much stress was put on it. Because of this, it’s important for managers to have the framing inspected whenever additional equipment is added that could increase the stress on it.

Poor Roof Draining System

When water stays pooled on a roof without draining properly, there’s a wide range of issues that could occur. Any structural engineering company will inspect the roof of an industrial building to ensure gutters are working properly and the best systems are in place to properly drain water from the roof.

Neglected Maintenance Practices

Accidents will happen in an industrial building with so many moving parts at any given time. However, any structural engineer will tell you major issues can be prevented by performing routine maintenance practices. These could include ensuring roof drainage systems are functioning, no rust is present on steel components, all seals and connections are in good shape and more. If there are any issues that need the expertise of a structural engineer, don’t hesitate in contacting one.

BE Structural is here to ensure all industrial buildings are in good working order so manufacturing processes can continue without interruption. Production is critical for every manufacturing plant, but so is safety. As a structural engineering company, we will evaluate every component of your building, identify any potential issues and promptly fix them. To learn more about how we can help in industrial settings, contact us at any time.

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3 Ways a Structural Engineer Can Help With Your Custom Home

When a custom home is in the works of being built, there’s an entire team of people you need to look at hiring. These people include architects, interior and exterior designers, engineers, contractors for general work and many more. Most people don’t think about contacting structural engineering companies first, but the truth is finding a good structural engineer should be a top priority. No matter how good a home looks on the outside, it’s only as good as the structural engineer who designed the plans from the foundation all the way to the top of the chimney. Here are the main ways a structural engineer is important when you’re looking to build a custom home.

Structural Safety

Every structural engineering company prioritizes safety in all aspects of the work they do. When evaluating the location of a custom home, a structural engineer will look at factors like the soil, the climate in the area, what major weather events typically occur, the seismic activity and more. Sometimes it’s simply not safe to build a home with the exact orientation the homeowner wants, which is exactly why it’s important to take the advice of structural engineering experts.

Use The Right Building Materials

While safety is the first priority when building any custom home, structural engineers also want to bring a homeowner’s vision to life as much as possible. This can include wood framing, bamboo, masonry, steel or any other materials. Many times a structural engineer will get an idea of the vision the homeowner has and then go to work designing the home based on that. If it’s simply not possible or safe to build it exactly like the homeowner desires, then they will inform them accordingly. There are many different factors that go into the building materials used for any custom home, and the best structural engineers will still make the custom home look as close to the homeowner’s vision as possible.

Efficient Designing

Most people don’t think about contacting a structural engineer when designing their home. This is typically done by an architect. However, structural engineers put together plans for the design that takes into consideration the foundation, roof, framing and overall structural integrity to be able to support the desired designs. Architects and other contractors rely on structural engineers for this information, which is why they are typically the first experts needed when designing a custom home.

BE Structural has helped build hundreds of custom homes over the years. Our unique team is comprised of experts with various backgrounds and different levels of experience, so no project is too large, too small or too complex for us. In fact, we enjoy taking on complex custom home designs since it challenges our skills. If you’re looking into the possibility of having a custom home designed, contact us today to see what steps to take and how we can help you get started.

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How Can Structural Engineers Build in a More Sustainable Way?

Waste is a common problem among many different industries worldwide, and the construction industry is one of the leaders in producing waste. However, with society becoming more aware and conscious of the materials they are using and how to properly dispose of them, structural engineering companies are also doing the same. This involves altering practices and procedures, disposing of waste differently, eliminating harmful compounds when using building materials and more. All of these combine to make more sustainable buildings and protect our planet as well. Here’s how structural engineering companies are building more sustainably today.

Incorporate Zero Waste Practices

Zero waste practices mean using products and materials that can be reused instead of discarded when they are no longer needed. A common example of this is when a structural engineer designs a building by using bolts for connections rather than welds. The bolts can be reused when the building gets remodeled or demolished, but anything welded will simply have to go to the landfill in most cases.

Eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds

Breathing in volatile organic compounds can be dangerous when ingested in large amounts. Building materials have traditionally contained these volatile organic compounds, but structural engineering companies are now being more conscious about the products and materials they use to ensure they don’t include them. Not only are these materials better for the environment, they also protect the construction workers who come in close contact with them.

Compost Waste Instead of Dumping in The Landfill

It’s easy for a structural engineer to say they’ll throw any waste in the landfill. However, many structural engineering companies today are composting some of their organic waste on the actual construction site when possible. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfills and also eliminates having to pollute the air with trucks driving to and from the landfills.

A Conscious Effort Will Go A Long Way

Being conscious of reducing waste and building in a more sustainable way will pay dividends for our environment in the future. The job of a structural engineer is to ensure a new project or a renovation project is designed in a safe manner, and also in a sustainable manner. Of course, it’s not always possible to apply all of these practices in every single construction product, but simply having sustainability in the back of the mind is a positive step forward for the environment.

BE Structural uses sustainable practices whenever possible. As a structural engineering company, it’s our job to ensure every building is designed and constructed safely. However, we are also very conscious of the environment we live in and the safety of the air we breathe. Quality does not have to be sacrificed when incorporating sustainable practices, so contact us today to see how we include these practices every day.

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See to Believe These Captivating Structures Opening This Year

Available resources combined with technological advancements in structural engineering have led to some of the most amazing structures ever built in recent years. Whether it’s museums, sports venues, bridges or anything else, there’s never a shortage of structures that will take your breath away when you first see them. Here are some of the most captivating structures that have opened in 2018 or will be opening in the very near future.

Royal Academy of Arts Bridge

The Royal Academy of Arts Bridge in London links together the Burlington Gardens with the Burlington House. There are many complexities with this project from a structural engineering perspective, as it serves a major functional purpose and is also considered to be the most visible part of the entire redevelopment project.

Cosmos Arena

Cosmos Arena was showcased during the 2018 World Cup. It was built in Samara and seats nearly 45,000 fans. By many accounts, Cosmos Arena was one of the most captivating venues for the entire World Cup. The structural engineering components involved a roof of more than two dozen panels that light up at night to signify the connection to the space industry Samara has.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Any structural engineer will be in awe over the Grand Egyptian Museum. It is built near the pyramids and is clearly distinguishable by its triangle shape, translucent wall made of stone and enormous size. In fact, it is now known as one of the largest archaeological museums worldwide and features dozens of large statues and tons of ancient history for visitors to enjoy.

National Museum of Qatar

The National Museum of Qatar is a unique museum that incorporates many different structural engineering components. The building is more than 400,000 square feet and uses construction materials designed to keep visitors out of the desert heat. The museum amazingly rises from the sea and includes both a pedestrian bridge and a bridge for vehicles connecting to it.

Olmsted Locks and Dam

The Olmsted Locks and Dam has been under construction for nearly 30 years due to funding and construction delays. The project is finally nearing its completion and will eventually be the largest and most costly inland waterway project in the history of the United States. The current locks and dams are often congested and are older, so this new project aims to resolve both issues.

BE Structural is not only amazed at the captivating structures that pop up every year, but we also help design some of them. The role of a structural engineering company spans widely with large structures like these, and we are proud to have been a part of many projects like them over the years. Be sure to contact us to see what we’ve been involved in and how we can help you with your commercial or residential project.

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Will Building with Timber Ever Become the Norm?

A structural engineer is tasked with researching and analyzing the different materials that can be used to design and construct any given building. Some areas may need a steel or concrete building due to its climate or significant weather events, while others may be suitable for timber materials. There’s no doubting the possibility of using timber for nearly every project. However, the question many structural engineering experts have is whether building with timber will become the norm across the industry. Here’s a deeper look at this possibility.

Location Is A Major Factor

Since wood is weaker than steel or concrete, the location of a wood building is a critical component to think about. The reality is wood can be used in any location, but at what cost? Larger and thicker materials will need to be used in areas that experience significant weather events, which will increase the cost of the building and also potentially reduce the amount of living or working space due to the size of the materials. So in most of these situations, building with wood can be less economical in many ways.

Problems With Using Timber in Construction

In addition to the potential higher cost of using timber, structural engineering professionals also bring to light other possible problems. Shrinkage, creep, elastic deformation and similar issues all play a role in why a structural engineer may opt against using timber. The good news is most of the possible problems with using timber can be alleviated by combining other stronger materials with it, especially when you’re building taller structures.

Timber Combined With Other Materials is More Effective

Many structural engineering experts will suggest a hybrid construction for certain projects. Using steel or concrete for the structural aspects, and incorporating wood for columns and other aesthetic purposes, are typically the most effective strategies from structural and cost-effective standpoints. Every construction project is different, so each structural engineering company has to look at the unique aspects of the project to determine the sustainability of the materials used. Hybrid designs are quickly becoming the norm, so the likelihood of complete timber designs becoming standard is very low.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals dedicated to designing and constructing the most sustainable buildings for both commercial and residential purposes. Our structural engineering company provides services extending from the design and construction of a new project, to building renovations and even forensic analysis. We are experts in everything dealing with structural engineering, so contact us at any time and we would be proud to serve you.