Articles

Facade engineering

Are Floating Cities Our Future?

The concept of a floating city has recently become more widely known and discussed. The president of the Seasteading Institute, Joe Quirk, has a plan in place to create floating cities and free them from the constraints created by world governments. With the popularity of underground homes rising, it makes sense that now is a good time to discuss the possibilities of floating cities being our future. Of course, there are plenty of challenges to uncover, but the concept of a floating city could be happening sooner rather than later.

Where Will The First Floating City Be?

A project is in the works for the first-ever floating city to be located off the shore of French Polynesia. Work is expected to begin sometime as early as 2018 and could be habitable by 2020. This city is planned to be large enough to house up to 300 people, and facade engineering experts are working through the challenges of how to create the safest homes possible for the people who choose to live on this floating city.

Involvement of Architects and Engineers

Architects and engineers have already visited the proposed location for the first floating city several times. The things taken into consideration at this point consist of how residents will receive power and clean water, what challenges there are when constructing a safe and secure building envelope, how the floating city could potentially expand and more. Of course, there are plenty other challenges and details to cover, but the ultimate responsibility of these professionals is ensuring all residents could live as safely as they could in a home on shore.

Floating Cities Could Create Floating Countries

Just like with underground homes, this first floating city isn’t expected to be the last. Once the viability of the city begins taking shape, we could expect to see numerous floating cities in the future. The big question is how many will we see, and how quickly will we see them? Joe Quirk has the ambition of having thousands of floating cities in the next 30+ years. The goal is very ambitious, but if the floating city off of the shore of French Polynesia sets the standard, then it won’t be out of the question.

BE Structural consists of a team dedicated to working together to better serve our clients. We are experts in facade engineering, structural engineering, structural inspections, home renovations and much more. We expect to be heavily involved in the concept of floating cities now and in the future, so don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

Building envelope consultants

New Technology Monitors Building Envelopes

Smart building technology is currently being used throughout the engineering and construction industries in many ways and in varying degrees. Whether it’s controlling the temperature in a building, locking doors or windows or controlling lights and ceiling fans, technology makes monitoring a home or business much more convenient. With this advancement in technology, you can also monitor your building envelope.  A building envelope is the physical barrier that separates the exterior from the interior of a building.  Here are a few of the many benefits new technology offers when it comes to monitoring a building envelope.

How Smart Sensors Enhance Building Management

Software, sensors, analytics and automation all combine to enhance how a building is managed. Some of these sensors will use real-time weather data to control the temperature inside the building by automatically adjusting the HVAC system. On a similar note, technology can be used to monitor the performance of your HVAC system in general.

The real-time data shows the usage of the system, which could identify a potential issue if it appears to be working harder than it should. You can essentially take a snapshot of your building at any given time to identify problems and work toward improving efficiency by addressing any building envelope failures.

Potential Cost Savings With New Technology

One of the goals of a building envelope inspection is to identify areas where energy is being wasted. With smart technology, you can easily identify these areas right away and fix the problems promptly. Consequently, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard and will result in energy savings. This technology will continue to advance, so the potential for more significant savings in the future is very likely.

Will Technology Eliminate The Need For Building Envelope Consultants and Inspections?

While some of the sensors can detect an issue, they can’t go to work to fix the issue. There’s still value in speaking with building envelope consultants and getting frequent evaluations, but it’s no secret that technology will make them less frequent in the future.

Structural forensic engineer

3 Ways Due Diligence Can Extend the Life of a Building

Identifying and diagnosing problems with a building can help reduce the frequency of major issues and extend the life of a building. However, regular facility managers sometimes don’t have an experienced eye for identifying detailed structural issues, and aren’t provided with the technology to assist. The role of a structural forensic engineer is to conduct due diligence investigations to identify both hidden issues and issues seen by the naked eye. Here are three ways a due diligence forensic investigation can extend the life of a building by many years.

Investigating Potential Structural Deficiencies

Structural and design deficiencies are important to uncover as early as possible. Many facilities hire forensic engineering companies to look for potential issues that may lead to an unsafe environment, or potentially cause other issues down the road. Correcting structural deficiencies like foundation problems, roofing issues and building envelope failures can help save a lot of money on repairs in the future and extend the life of the building.

Identifying Patterns of Failure

Every building is different, so there’s no standard when it comes to what component of a building will fail first or most often. An experienced structural forensic engineer not only can identify an issue, but also determine the root cause of the issue with a little investigating. This is one of the main reasons why property condition assessments are recommended. Some issues require the expertise of a trained professional, whether it’s patterns of failure or just individual problems.

Use Technology Advantageously

During a full forensic investigation, experts will use different devices to detect issues in a building. The technology used can range from infrared devices that measure the amount of moisture in a structure’s wall system to x-ray imaging, electromagnetic equipment and more. Using advanced technology can help quickly identify the source of an issue. The benefits of quick identification of the source of an issue are many but most important is the ability to intervene early.  Allowing a water leak or other problem to continue for any amount of time can be dangerous and significantly decrease the life and overall serviceability of the building.

At BE Structural, we have a team of experienced professionals ready to conduct any type of forensic investigation needed on your building. Doing your due diligence will save a lot of headaches, time and money in the long run, so calling in the experts for an investigation periodically is worth it. We understand every building is unique and complex, so contact us today to see how our services can be beneficial to you now and in the future.

Structural forensic engineer

How Structures Survive Hurricanes

Hurricanes are some of the most powerful and destructive weather events anyone can experience. The sheer power and force of hurricanes can create devastating damage to structures if they aren’t built with the highest quality materials and precision.

The role of a structural forensic engineer is to analyze damage to structures caused by a hurricane. With this analysis, they can get a better picture of how buildings need to be constructed to protect them from these major events in the future. It’s not impossible for a structure to survive a hurricane with minimal damage, but there are key factors that must be present if there is any chance.

Building Exteriors Are The First Lines of Defense

Without a solid building exterior, a hurricane will rip right through a building. When a forensic investigation occurs following a hurricane, most engineers find that the building was constructed using poor design or materials. Since the building exterior is the first line of defense, proper materials like concrete and masonry, stucco and strong metal cladding are necessary to protect a building. If a building exterior fails, the chances of a structure surviving are minimal.

What Happens If A Building Exterior Fails


A building’s exterior, or sometimes called building envelope, not only has to be constructed with precision and detail, but it also has to be resistant to flying debris during a hurricane. Many forensic engineering studies indicate when a building façade is compromised, the pressure from the winds and rain from a hurricane will rip through and then destroy the interior of the building. Once this occurs, some minor damage can turn into a total loss quickly.

Framing and Foundation

Without a solid foundation and proper frame construction, many homes don’t stand a chance in hurricanes. A lot of emphasis gets put on a building’s exterior, and for good reason, but the foundation and framing also play a large role in whether structures survive a hurricane or not. Many forensic investigations begin with an analysis of the structure’s foundation after a hurricane. If there is damage to the foundation or frame, chances are there will be other significant damage to analyze on the building as well.

Minor Missed Details Lead To Major Disasters

When a structural forensic engineer analyzes hurricane damage, the reasons why a building survived is always clear. Even the minor details like the fasteners used to secure doors, metal or any other material are critical for increasing the chances of a structure surviving the force of a hurricane. These details may seem like they have minimal importance during the construction of a building, but a forensic investigation following hurricane damage will clearly expose the flaws and strengths.

At BE Structural our forensic structural engineers have analyzed hundreds of damaged structures as a result of a hurricane making landfall. We know exactly why a structure survived, and why some structures are destroyed completely. Be sure to contact us to learn more about how buildings can survive hurricanes, especially if you live in a hurricane zone.

 

Bulk handling equipment

Global Warming: Is Engineering Our Only Hope?

Global warming is a serious concern and will only become more serious as the years go by. With the greenhouse gas emissions produced by various sources only increasing, cooling down the earth will become even more difficult than it is today. In fact, at this point, experts are looking for ways to simply slow down global warming, which in fact is proving to be extremely challenging.

Engineering can and will play a large role in our efforts to prevent the potentially disastrous consequences of global warming. Whether it’s by creating more efficient and environmentally-friendly bulk handling equipment or shifting to the construction of underground homes, here are some ways engineering may be our only hope when it comes to global warming.

How Engineering Can Cool The Earth

Experts and scientists have been studying how to effectively engineer the climate to slow the warming process. One idea is to whiten the clouds in order to reflect more sunlight back into space instead of it beaming down on the earth. This may seem extreme, but it highlights the creativity and seriousness of the issue. More common ways to aid in the reduction of global warming is to be more efficient when engineering different types of structures. Different bulk handling equipment can release harmful emissions, which could be prevented if other methods of engineering were available.

Cutting Back Gas Emissions is Critical

While there are plenty of ideas surrounding how to cool the earth, the bottom line is cutting back greenhouse gas emissions should be the main focus. As technology advances, so will engineering processes. Everyone plays a role in reducing gas emissions, so we have to do our part to be conscious of the importance of energy efficiency and the impact it has on global warming.

BE Structural completely understands the current and future impact global warming will have on the earth. Our goal is to use energy efficient processes during new construction projects and renovations to ensure we are doing our part in addressing the issues surrounding global warming. To learn more about the role of engineering in global warming, or for any other information on engineering in general, feel free to contact us at any time.

Forensic structural engineering

Hurricanes Force Building Codes to Improve

Building sustainable structures to withstand the harsh elements of hurricanes is one of the major challenges we face today. One of the main goals of forensic structural engineering is to analyze damage done to structures after a hurricane, so stronger and more sustainable building processes and materials can be used in the future. The combination of hurricane damage and forensic engineering has forced building codes to improve in various ways. Improvement of building codes is important not only to protect buildings, but to also reduce safety hazards for people in the area.

Focus on Exterior Building Components

Most improvements to building codes focus on the exterior components of a building. The first thing structural forensic investigation services will look at in a hurricane-damaged structure is what went wrong with the building envelope. If the exterior of a building gets damaged during a hurricane event, then the damage will likely be present on the interior as well, which can create big issues for that particular structure and surrounding structures.

The Role of Forensic Structural Engineering in Building Code Improvement

Since the role of a structural engineer is to ensure a structure is designed properly to withstand the force of a hurricane, forensic structural engineering is critical in order to make improvements and determine probable cause of the failure. The analysis and recommendations by forensic structural engineers play a big role in the improvement of building codes. In most cases, building codes become more stringent especially wind and seismic loading conditions. For instance, a hurricane- prone coastal city may change their design criteria for new residential and commercial structures after a devastating storm wreaks havoc with deadly wind speeds reaching all time highs. The new codes will require new structures to withstand a higher wind speed than they did prior to the storm.  The same is true after earthquakes and changes in seismic loading conditions.

As Technology Advances, So Will Engineering

Not only does emerging technology help provide forensic structural engineers with the proper tools to do a thorough analysis of buildings, but it will also help construct stronger buildings. Building codes will only become more stringent as storms get worse.

Structural forensic engineer

Assessing Structural Damage After a Hurricane

Hurricanes are extremely powerful forces of nature and should never be taken lightly. Building codes are constantly becoming stronger and more defined in order to prevent structural damage to buildings as much as possible. Any time a hurricane makes landfall to an area, forensic engineering takes over to assess the structural damage. Some buildings and homes may seem like they were unharmed, while others may be completely destroyed. The role of a structural forensic engineer is to confirm probable cause or origin and to determine the extent of structural damage as a result.

What Happens in a Structural Damage Assessment

When structural damage is assessed after a hurricane, there are both big picture views and detailed views that must be taken into consideration. In the big picture, experts may take an aerial view of a particular area to see the widespread damage. In a detailed picture, a structural forensic engineer will analyze an existing structure, usually a building or home, and make an onsite assessment of their current condition after the weather event. The foundation walls, the building frame, the building roof and facade are all major structural systems that must be evaluated to determine current condition after the storm.  Once this is complete, a structural engineer will usually prepare a report documenting his or her findings while onsite and final conclusions thereafter. All components of a particular structure are assessed to better protect the buildings in the future.

The Role of Structural Engineers in Hurricane Damage Assessments

There are many challenges a structural forensic engineer faces during a hurricane damage assessment. Since the damage caused by a hurricane could be in the form of wind, rain, flooding or other flying objects, the engineer must be able to determine the sole cause of the damage to a location. Damage to a roof is caused by wind most of the time, but interior damage may be caused by water. A structural engineer must be able to assess all of the damage to know what construction methods and materials can be used in the future to prevent similar damage.

Preventing Damage in The Future

Following a hurricane structural damage assessment, forensic engineering experts will analyze their findings to determine the best ways to prevent damage in the future. The role of underground homes may play a significant role in the near or distant future, as these homes will generally be less vulnerable to hurricane damage. However, these underground homes likely won’t be prominent in the United States for several decades, so experts are constantly looking for ways to improve building codes to prevent structural damage to buildings as much as possible.

BE Structural has an experienced team of forensic structural engineers who are ready to assess structural damage after any hurricane makes landfall. We use these assessments in our own construction and renovation projects to ensure the safest and most effective materials are used. To learn more about the process of hurricane structural damage assessments or other structural concerns, contact us at any time.

Facade engineering

Adding a Level to Existing Structures in Major Metro Areas

Any time you want to add a level to an existing structure, there are many different considerations to keep in mind. First off, if you live in a major metro area, you are likely very limited in space. You may also consider building underground due to the lack of space, but this may be impossible due to poor soil or other issues.

Finding the best facade engineering consultants can help make the process as seamless as possible. While adding a level may be difficult, there are very rare times where it is impossible. There may have to be a little give and take from the homeowner, since many variables go into the addition.

Getting Scale and Proportion Right

How you add a level to your home or building depends on the existing building envelope. A facade engineering consultant will do a survey of your home to determine how much room you have to build outward and upward. Many homeowners wish to keep the design and proportions of their home intact as much as possible, which could present challenges during the addition process. Adding on usually isn’t the problem, but finding the right scale and proportion is.

Finding Room to Expand

As mentioned, the major challenge of adding a level in metro areas is lack of space. This lack of space could lead to the need to remove walls and ceilings in order to properly expand. While it may not be ideal for the homeowner, it’s sometimes the only option facade engineering consultants have.

Adding a Level Requires Give and Take

A homeowner’s vision and a facade engineering professional’s vision are sometimes completely different. A homeowner knows what they want the structure to look like, but a contractor knows what can and can’t happen. Finding a facade engineering company willing to work with you to get as close to your vision as possible will help make the building process much easier.

Discuss the overall shape of the home, the proportions and how much interior space can be added. There will still be some problems that arise along the way, but as long as both parties are on the same page, there shouldn’t be any issues that can’t be overcome.

At BE Structural, our professionals are willing to take the time to work with every homeowner to make their home additions as desirable as possible. We will be straightforward and honest with you throughout the entire process and will strive to meet your vision closely. If you’re thinking about adding a level to your home, contact us to see how we can help make the process seamless.

Concrete underground homes

Underground Home Structural Components

Underground homes are anything but traditional, but they do still have similar considerations when it comes to the overall structural components. What makes these homes unique is they can be designed in many different ways, depending on the landscape, climate and other factors.

When it comes to the actual structural components, the type of soil needed, the construction materials used and the overall design are all taken into consideration. Here are some of the structural components used in underground home plans.

Type of Soil

As with traditional homes, the type of soil you build on (or in) plays a large role in how you can construct an underground home. And to take it a step further, some walls or other structural components are made from a mixture of clay, sand and straw to form building blocks. While this isn’t recommended for most structures, it is an option available and is used in many cultures.

Concrete Instead of Wood

Due to the nature of underground homes, walls have to be constructed with concrete instead of wood. Concrete underground homes have to be completely waterproof and strong enough to withstand a large amount of earth sitting on top of it, so concrete is the only realistic option for the overall structure.

Underground Home Rooftops

From an aesthetic perspective, the rooftops of underground homes have some of the most unique and distinct characteristics. Most rooftops consist of greenery with live plants and grass growing on them. However, the structural engineering company must ensure the support beams used are sufficient enough to handle the amount of weight on such rooftops.

Thorough Planning is Involved in All Components

From the excavation process all the way to putting the finishing touches, underground home plans must be extremely thorough. Using concrete is an obvious structural component, but the support beams and other materials used to ensure durability and strength have to be taken into consideration. The angles of the home to allow for water runoff and other waterproofing characteristics are essential in order to have sustainable underground homes.

While it may seem like a difficult task to build underground homes, it’s not when you use an experienced structural engineering company, like BE Structural. We know the ins-and-outs of building underground homes, so you won’t have to worry about the structural components used. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about underground homes, the structural components needed and how we can build the underground home you desire.

Custom underground homes

Factors to Consider When Planning an Underground Home

If you’ve done any amount of research on underground homes, you’ve likely seen the multitude of benefits they offer. From the privacy considerations to the natural energy-saving characteristics, an underground home provides a variety of advantages for residents. However, in order to successfully build an underground home, there are many factors to consider. Many of the factors are similar to the ones used when planning traditional homes, but some may be considerations you wouldn’t think of otherwise.

Climate

Most custom underground homes are built in areas where there is extreme climate. Areas with extreme cold or warm temperatures are more suitable for underground homes, since the earth helps to absorb the temperature and keep the home more energy-efficient. Since the temperature of the earth varies much less than the temperature of the air, an underground home can provide more stability and comfort year-round.

Soil

Grainy soil like sand and gravel is best for building an earth-sheltered home. You need a soil that compacts very well due to the weight of the construction materials and the water draining benefits. Structural engineers can conduct a soil test prior to your planning to ensure the land is suitable for construction.

Natural Water Drainage

All underground home plans have to have some sort of natural water drainage incorporated. Of course, you can build a manmade water drainage system, but it’s much more effective to have a natural flow of water in case of a disaster. Extreme water pressure against the walls of an underground home can create significant problems, so this is one of the main considerations when planning underground home construction.

Construction Materials

Most underground homes are built with concrete, since it is one of the strongest and most durable building material there is. Steel is often used in conjunction with concrete to add more stability to the home. Wood can still be used for interior designs and minor structural considerations, but it is not advised to use as primary construction materials for safety and durability reasons.

The structural engineers at BE Structural know what to consider when planning underground homes. Whether it’s the climate, topography or any other environmental issues, we will ensure your underground home can be built safely before any plans are discussed. To get your evaluation for an underground home in your area, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Underground home plans

Three Underground Home Styles

Not all concrete underground homes are the same. In fact, unless these homes are built side-by-side, there’s a chance the design will be vastly different. The style of underground home you can build depends largely on the soil and geography in which it’s being built, even more so than traditional homes.

There are three main styles of underground homes you can build, depending on the landscape you’re working with. A qualified structural engineer should be able to easily give you the best option for your particular area, but here are the three main styles described in detail for you.

Elevational Homes

Elevational homes use the hilly and sloped landscape around you for its construction. The home is essentially built into a hill, so there is one side of the home exposed outward, while the other three sides are contained. The result is a home with natural insulation and many aesthetic options. You could add on multiple levels to your home, depending on the size of the hill, and the main entrypoint may be from the top of the home if you choose.

Berm Homes

Another style for concrete underground homes is berm homes. These are mostly found on flatter land, but uses the earth surrounding it to create hills to cover it up. Berm homes give you more options than other underground home styles, since you have the choice of how many sides you want covered up. You can have anywhere from one to three sides completely enclosed by the earth, depending on what you want and the natural resources available on the flatland.

Atrium Homes

From a design perspective, atrium homes offer the most unique underground home plans. The homes are generally built in a U-shape and are usually submerged in the ground partially. These partially-submerged homes create easy access points to multiple areas of the home. Atrium homes aren’t the most popular underground home style, but they do offer plenty of advantages and options to create the ultimate customized underground home.

BE Structural’s team of structural engineers can help guide you through all of the styles of concrete underground homes available for your location. You may be able to determine the style you can incorporate based on a view of the landscape, but our engineers can help you visualize exactly what your underground home can look like. Feel free to contact us any time for an evaluation or to learn more about underground home plans.

structural engineering companies

Adding Subsurface Levels to Existing Structures

A common issue many homeowners have is they eventually run out of space. When this happens, their options include adding on to their home or moving to a larger one. But with limited space in urban areas, you may not have enough space to build out, so building down is your only option.

With underground homes becoming more popular worldwide, people are becoming more open to transforming their basement into a habitable living space. Of course, basements aren’t designed to live in, so some significant work has to be done in order to make them livable and safe.

Important Considerations of Adding Subsurface Levels

When structural engineering consultants do any work to basements, they have to take several things into consideration:

  • Structural Support – your home has to have the proper structural support down through the basement area in order to add subsurface levels. If an existing basement floor is lower than the underside of foundation walls, then the structure will not settle properly and could lead to collapsing.
  • Benching – this is the concrete bench built on top of a stable excavations slope. It’s an important process for structural engineering consultants, so be sure to learn about the process so you know your contractor is well-versed and qualified.
  • Underpinning – this is a necessary task if your basement floor is lower than the underside of your foundation wall. You have to excavate below the existing wall and add concrete to essentially extend the foundation downward.

The Role of Facade Engineering Companies

All structural engineering companies have to do a thorough analysis of your existing structure prior to doing any work. Inspections must be thorough in order to ensure safety and security of the structure prior to, during and after the building process. Always ask for the qualifications of any structural engineering companies you work with so you can feel comfortable with the service provided.

Challenges With Adding Subsurface Levels

Any time you add a subsurface level to an existing structure, you are going to run into some challenges. Some of those challenges include a shallow sewer drain, being too close to another structure and problems with the soil during the excavation process. Some of these issues can be found during the inspection phase, but others may only become known during the building process.
At BE Structural, our engineers are well-versed with adding subsurface levels to existing structures. We ensure thorough inspections are completed so there are minimal surprises during the entire building process. If you’re in the need for some extra space and want to build downward instead of upward, give us a call to see how we can help.

Custom underground homes

The Myths Surrounding Underground Homes

While underground homes are becoming more popular, there are still plenty of misconceptions about them. As with anything, the myths surrounding these earth-sheltered homes come from people not being aware of how they are designed and constructed. It’s easy to believe the most common myths, but structural engineers and architects can quickly debunk them. Here are some of the myths you’re likely to hear about custom underground homes and why they aren’t true.

Myth #1: Underground Homes Are Dark

People believe underground homes are dark because there’s no natural light source. However, most underground home plans are constructed with windows strategically placed to allow in natural light and either have domed ceilings or skylights. Domed ceilings are popular since they are co-linear, and light actually gets magnified on them rather than bouncing off like traditional ceilings.

Myth #2: Bugs Are Bad in Underground Homes

Many insects find their homes in the ground, so it’s natural to think there will be more bugs in an underground home. But the reality is bugs are generally less of a problem due to the homes being constructed mostly with concrete rather than wood. Bugs like termites aren’t usually a problem in underground homes for this reason. Other insects won’t cause more of a problem than they already do with traditional homes.

Myth #3: Underground Homes Are Damp and Cold

Possibly the most common myth about custom underground homes is they seem cold and damp, somewhat like a cave, but in fact the opposite is true. Underground homes actually retain the earth’s natural heat. There have been enough earth-sheltered homes built where structural engineers and architects know how to create the proper ventilation, drainage and waterproofing to ensure these points aren’t an issue. Most of the time this is achieved by incorporating a domed ceiling, but there are other ways to prevent cold and damp homes depending on the landscape in which the home is built.

BE Structural has a team of structural engineers to help debunk any possible myths about underground homes. While these homes have plenty of value, it’s understandable why some people are skeptical about the functionality of them. For more information on underground home plans in general, and to dispel any of the myths you’ve heard about them, be sure to email us at any time.

Underground homes

Underground Communities: Are They in the Near or Distant Future?

As the world population continues to increase, cities are more crowded than ever before. Some cities and countries are more populated than others, but it still begs the question: why can’t underground communities become the norm to create more space?

Underground homes aren’t the norm worldwide, but we are seeing more of them come up in different countries. There are many benefits to building concrete underground homes, so having complete underground communities could legitimately be a trend in the future. Underground homes and communities will likely be in our future, but the main question is how quickly will they become the norm?

Urban Crowds May Expedite Underground Living

Crowded cities are becoming a problem, especially in countries like Singapore. People have nowhere to go, traffic is terrible and they are simply running out of space to live. As the population continues to grow in the United States as well, it wouldn’t be surprising if underground homes start to become a trend in the near future. And when that happens, complete underground communities won’t be very far behind.

Once a trend starts to take off, everyone wants to follow suit, which could bode well for the future of underground communities. We won’t be seeing them a year or two from now, but with the expected population growth in the next decade being enormous, all options will be on the table.

For Some Countries, The Future of Underground Communities is Now

Singapore, China and other countries are extremely crowded because there’s not enough land to house everyone. The role of a structural engineering company is to evaluate the land and provide different options for people to live in these countries. The success of underground homes will lead to full underground communities at some point. In developing countries, this future may be closer than expected. But in developed countries, we still may be looking at several years or decades down the road before underground communities become the norm.

Underground Communities May Become Inevitable

The concept of living in concrete underground homes seems futuristic to many people. Cities are going to become more crowded every year, so what seems like a trend right now may become a necessity. Underground communities offer many benefits to the homeowners and also to the general public in an area. It will open up more urban living spaces and give homeowners a safe and secure place to live outside of the city.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that looks at all different options when it comes to building homes and communities. While concrete underground homes may not be the norm worldwide right now, our engineers believe complete underground communities will become the norm before you know it. If you have any questions about underground homes in general, or if you are considering one for yourself, feel free to contact us at any time.

Custom underground homes

These Underground Homes Will Blow Your Mind!

Underground homes are still a new, and sometimes unheard of, concept in the United States. However, custom underground homes are becoming more popular by the day worldwide. If you’re going to invest in an underground home, you should think about all possible characteristics you would want in a home, and see if a residential structural engineer approves them from a safety standpoint. And if you don’t know what to even consider, check out these custom underground homes for inspiration.

The Hidden Lair in Switzerland

This beautiful underground home is strategically placed in the natural landscape of the rolling hills of Switzerland. It’s one of the most unique underground home plans you’ll see anywhere, and it looks like a home you would see in a fictional movie rather than in real life. You can literally walk over a hill and stumble upon this home in all of its natural glory.

Flower-Shaped Home in Bolton, U.K.

Former British football star Gary Neville had this home designed in one of the most unique ways you’ll ever see. From an aerial view, the home looks like a flower, with the petals being separate openings to let in natural light. Each petal also has different aspects and features, so the entire home has something different to look at in all areas.

Stone Home in Greece

Underground home plans in the middle of the desert may not seem like the best idea, but this one incorporates all of the best elements perfectly. It’s located between two hillsides and is constructed of thick and durable stone. The eco-friendly design allows it to use natural light, heating and cooling with the most efficiency. If you just happen to be passing through the desert and see this structure, you probably won’t even realize someone lives in it!

Grassy Roof Home in Poland

The great thing about custom underground homes is you can get as creative as you want. This home has a grass-filled roof that is only accessible for the resident via a staircase from inside the home. The roof is actually level with the ground, so from a distance, you won’t even realize there’s a home there.

When you’re considering a custom underground home, don’t be afraid to put your residential structural engineer to the test. BE Structural has the best structural engineers to ensure the safety of your underground home, no matter how creative you are with your designs. Be sure to contact us if you have a design idea for an underground home or if you want to learn more about them in general.

Underground homes

What Are the Best Benefits to Underground Homes?

If you’re considering having an underground home built, you aren’t alone. More people are realizing the benefits of custom underground homes today more than ever before. And while underground homes make up only a tiny percentage of the homes built worldwide, the number is steadily increasing.

Aside from the unique aspect of living underground, these homes have plenty of other tangible benefits as well. Whether it’s saving money on energy bills or having natural privacy, here are some of the best benefits to underground homes.

Energy Conservation

The main reason why many people choose custom underground homes is because of the energy-saving benefits. Since the home is not affected by outdoor air temperatures as much, you won’t have to run your HVAC unit nearly as much as a regular home. The interior temperatures will be much more stable and will feel more comfortable overall year round.

Extreme Weather Protection

You won’t have to worry about boarding up windows during a hurricane, dealing with the aftermath of a serious hailstorm or searching for protection in the event of a tornado. Underground homes provide a natural layer of protection against those elements, which is the ground. And a related benefit to the natural weather protection is lower insurance premiums. Since underground homes aren’t as vulnerable to weather damage, you could save a significant amount of money on homeowners insurance.

Very Little Maintenance

Protection from the wind, sun and other elements means you won’t have to clean or maintain your home as often. Underground homes don’t accumulate as much dust as conventional homes. They also won’t get beat down from the sun and require repainting or other maintenance issues. While there are still other things, like water and sewer, that need maintaining, they are on a much lesser scale with underground homes.

Privacy Considerations

With custom underground homes, you can enjoy complete privacy without even having a fence around your home. The natural landscape around you will provide enough privacy for most people. When people drive or walk in the area, they will only be able to see the top of your home, in most cases.

The first thing you need to consider when you’re thinking about building an underground home is finding the best residential structural engineer. At BE Structural, we have structural engineers with experience in custom underground homes to ensure your safety and satisfaction. To learn more about the benefits of custom underground homes, or for answers to your specific questions, feel free to contact us any time.

Custom underground homes

All About Reinforced Concrete Underground Homes: The Pros and Cons

Living in an underground home is tempting for many people. While they do offer many benefits, there are also just as many things to take into consideration before you make the investment. All underground home plans have to be different, depending on the climate, soil and other environmental factors. However, with the right structural engineers and architects, you can enjoy living in your custom underground home for years to come.

Advantages of Underground Homes

  • Conservation of Energy – One of the main reasons why people build concrete underground homes is because of the tremendous savings on energy bills. Heating and cooling costs are greatly reduced because the home is not exposed to the weather elements as directly.
  • Protection Against Extreme Weather – Since custom underground homes are protected by the earth naturally, extreme weather patterns don’t affect them much. This means insuring them is usually cheaper and they are safer to live in overall.
  • Privacy – When people can’t see your home from the ground level, you have as much privacy as you could ever want or need. Having a private and quiet outdoor space is one of the best benefits people enjoy with custom underground homes.

Disadvantages of Underground Homes

  • Condensation Issues – Humidity levels are generally higher in underground homes. This could cause condensation issues within the walls and other areas of the home. You’ll need to consider incorporating more insulation to prevent condensation from intruding and eventually leading to mold and mildew issues.
  • Waterproofing Challenges – Since water flows downward, having a completely waterproofed underground home can be a challenge. A structural engineer will have to strategically place drainage areas in and around your home to avoid potential water damage.
  • Ventilation Concerns – Many underground home plans include a ventilator to exchange outdoor air with indoor fresh air. Having good indoor air quality is a concern for underground homes, since the home generally does not get the best air flow below the surface.

At BE Structural, we want to make sure you understand all the challenges and benefits of building concrete underground homes. These can be great structures to live in, but you need the expertise of a structural engineer to determine the proper location and building materials to use. Be sure to contact us if you’re considering living in an underground home so we can analyze the area to maximize the benefits and limit the disadvantages.

Underground homes

All About Reinforced Concrete Underground Homes: What Are They?

You may have heard about custom reinforced concrete underground homes recently, but don’t know exactly what they are. The reality is they are exactly what they sound like. It is a home built slightly below the surface or completely underground. All underground home plans are different, but most of them are built for similar reasons. They have many energy-saving benefits, along with the most privacy you could ever imagine from a home. Underground homes have been around for a while, but they have just recently hit a spike in popularity.

Homes Built Below The Surface

With many underground home plans, you can’t even see the atrium design from the ground level. This creates more privacy for homeowners and also protects them from the harsh elements experienced in some climates. When people decide to build underground homes, they aren’t doing so because they want to be hidden from the rest of the world, in most cases. There are many logical reasons why underground homes are built.

Reasons Why Underground Homes Exist

When you think about it, the ground below the surface of the earth is much cooler than on the surface itself. So when a home is built underground, it will naturally stay cooler in the harsh summer heat. They also offer a natural protection of the home since wind, hail, rain and other natural phenomenons won’t have an impact on the structure. Reinforced concrete homes aren’t suitable for all climates and geographic locations, but they do offer plenty of benefits in the right areas.

Structural Considerations for Underground Homes

The challenge structural engineers have with custom reinforced concrete underground homes is the materials needed to complete the project. Each home will need different materials, depending on the site of the structure and the type of design the homeowner wants. Humidity levels, waterproofing systems, insulation and adequate ventilation are all highlighted as being important aspects a structural engineer must take into consideration. Underground homes present more of a challenge for these aspects, but it is possible to solve all of the issues.

BE Structural knows the ins-and-outs of underground homes. While these homes present unique challenges for each home, our experienced engineers understand exactly how to keep the structure safe for living. Be sure to contact us if you’re considering an underground home to live in.

Forensic engineering

How Can Forensic Engineering Get to the Root of Structural Issues in Third World Countries?

Engineers have a duty to not only protect the population from structural issues in their own country, but countries across the world as well. With the increasing population globally, structural failures are occurring at a more rapid pace than ever before. The role of forensic engineering companies is to identify the root cause of these issues and take positive steps to correct them. However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds and could take a complete turn in the opposite direction in the engineering industry.

Shift From Controlling Nature To Cooperating With Nature

In the past, forensic engineering firms did their best to control nature in order to improve the living conditions worldwide. For the most part, they were successful in doing so. However, with the global population now reaching six billion people, and another estimated increase of two billion in the next two decades, there will have to be a huge paradigm shift.

Resources will not be as widely available as they are now, and this is already occurring in some third world countries. The types of land structures are being built on are unstable and the increased population is taking a toll on the availability of natural resources.

Understand Issues Other Than Technicalities

All forensic engineering companies have to take into consideration the environmental impacts on nature, as well as economic and social issues. Forensic engineers generally have not taken these factors into consideration much historically, but the changing times have forced them to focus on aspects other than technicalities. This will require a shift in how forensic engineering firms operate and hire engineers in the future.

Forensic Engineering Can Broaden Analysis

What we know about structural issues in developing countries is there are many aspects that need to be analyzed. The goal of forensic engineering is to understand the ecosystem in these countries, analyze projections and analyze data more deeply than at surface level.

At BE Structural, we take forensic engineering to the next level to not only analyze current situations, but also future projections. This is especially important in third world countries, where resources are more scarce. Be sure to contact us to learn more about the impact of forensic engineering worldwide and how the shift to cooperating with nature will get to the root of structural issues globally.

Building envelope engineering

Can Structural Failures Be Prevented?

It seems like you hear about a structural failure every day somewhere around the world. While many of these failures occur as a result of a natural disaster, many of them could have been prevented with quality building envelope engineering. Building a new structure requires many different levels of analysis before the building process even begins. But missing just a single step could end up with forensic engineering services being at your property to pinpoint why the structure failed. Here are some ways structural failures can be prevented.

Importance of Soil Testing

The soil you decide to build a structure on is just as important as the building materials themselves. Many contractors will rely on the property owner to hire an outside service to do a soils report, and won’t even ask about it. Getting a soil analysis requires an upfront cost, but can prevent a failed structure in the long run. The best building envelope engineering companies will require a soils report before building the structure, just to ensure the stability of it for years to come.

Impact of Geotechnical Engineering and Structural Engineering

Geotechnical engineers focus on the rock and soil underneath the structure. Structural engineers focus on the actual building itself. While both analyze completely different aspects, they work together to ensure stable structures. When facade engineering consultants believe the foundation of a structure is unstable, they will many times call on geotechnical engineers to analyze the soil first. But when the two work together before a structure is even built, then structural failures can be prevented more often than not.

Experts Can Prevent Structural Failures

No one wants to have forensic engineering services out on their property to analyze a structural failure. Instead, rely on the experts to ensure this type of building failure won’t happen in the first place. Building a new structure is not a time to cut corners to save costs. Too many people underestimate the importance of analyzing all aspects of a building structure and the land it sits on, which is why we are seeing so many structural failures worldwide.

At BE Structural, our structural engineers can help you analyze your building materials and foundation to ensure stability. Our experienced facade engineering consultants will make suggestions based on thorough analysis so you can better prevent a structural failure from occurring. Be sure to contact us to learn more about how we can help you prevent structural failures.