Category: property assessment

Structural engineering company

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.

Structural engineering

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.

Structural glass design

The Advantages of a Modular Home

With custom underground homes becoming popular in many countries, modular homes are also getting more recognition. If you aren’t familiar with modular homes, they are constructed by assembling various prefabricated rooms that are manufactured and shipped to the location where they will be attached. While these homes must go through a transportation process, they also must adhere to the same zoning codes and building safety standards that traditional homes do. So what are the advantages of living in a modular home? Here are some of the most attractive benefits.

Better Quality Construction

Since the different modules making up the home have to be shipped, the components have to be strong enough to withstand the elements of transportation. As a result, the materials used are generally stronger than a traditional home. Most of the building components are the same as standard homes, but the construction process is generally more detailed and specific for a modular home.

Customized Design Options

If you want a structural glass design in your modular home, all you have to do is request it. You can combine multiple different features you like from other homes all into a single modular home. You also have the ability to design your own floor plan and even pick out details like what siding or windows should be used. The only limitations revolve around the space you have to place the modular home.

Energy Efficiency Considerations

Most of the time a modular home is built with energy efficient qualities. While custom underground homes have natural energy efficient properties, modular homes have to be constructed accordingly. Since each module of the home is designed and constructed separately, more detail and emphasis gets placed on sealants and other components to help reduce energy costs. And many times, a structural glass design can add to the energy efficient properties of a modular home.

Reduced Construction Costs

Any time you custom design a home, you have to expect the cost to be significantly higher than buying a standard home. However, with modular homes, you can enjoy full customization without having to pay outrageous construction costs. Since each smaller module is constructed individually, the process of building them is much more time efficient. Those time savings get passed on to you through lower construction costs.

BE Structural is a team of experts with a broad range of expertise. We have professionals with experience in bulk materials handling, structural inspecting, forensic engineering and much more. The advantages of a modular home are becoming more clear and evident every single day, so the popularity will undoubtedly rise in the coming years. To learn more about modular homes, contact us to ask any questions you may have.

Facade engineering

Structural Engineers Aim to Assist in a Zero-Waste Future

Excessive waste is a serious problem across many different industries, but it’s especially problematic in construction. It seems like no matter how much effort is put forth to reduce waste, the issue is still prevalent. Structural engineers are putting their best foot forward to create a zero-waste future, and with a continuous effort, they could be successful. From the design process to the components used and even bulk materials handling, here are ways structural engineers will have an impact on significantly reducing waste.

Detachable Building Components

Through forensic engineering investigations, results indicate a significant amount of waste can be reduced by using materials that can be detached rather than demolished. And even further in the future, the detached components could be recycled and used in other applications. Detachable components are far from being usable today, but it is something on the radar of every structural engineer.

Design For The Future

Another thing structural engineers are doing is requesting that the design teams think about the future of the building throughout the design process. Things to think about include how a building could potentially expand, be repurposed or have other functional implementation. Planning ahead in this manner could reduce the chances of having to demolish materials in order to expand or repurpose any given building.

Maintain High Performance, While Minimizing Resources

Technology is continuing to advance, whether it’s regarding facade engineering or any other component of the construction process. Structural engineers are placing an emphasis on using the latest technology to their advantage in order to use fewer resources, but still keeping performance at high levels. Many advancements in technology are designed specifically for this purpose, but they aren’t necessarily used accordingly.

Continuous Effort Will Reduce Waste

The more forensic engineering investigations that identify waste, the more structural engineers will push for a zero-waste future. We have come a long way in our efforts of reducing waste, but there is still a long way to go to eliminate it completely. When everyone involved in the construction process gets onboard with waste-reduction efforts, the better the chances are of it becoming a reality.

At BE Structural, our structural engineers and facade engineering experts constantly think about different ways to reduce waste. Through diligent and continuous efforts, we all work together and contribute to waste reduction practices. To learn more about how we are working together in our efforts to reduce waste, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Building envelope engineering

5 Key Components to Help Identify a Building Envelope Failure

By the time a building envelope fails, a thorough investigation has to take place to determine the exact cause. There are many reasons why this failure can occur on any given building, but identifying the issue takes some experience. With a building envelope inspection by a professional, most issues can be identified and corrected before major damage occurs. However, there are some signs you can look out for as well to help identify the potential for failure.

Air Leaks

If air leaks out of a building through windows, doors or attics, potential problems could arise. There could also be air leaks in a building you aren’t even aware of until your energy bill skyrockets. Air leaks are problematic because they can lead to condensation if the humidity from outside is being pulled inside.

Water Penetration Vulnerabilities

Sometimes poor design or construction of a building can lead to water penetration vulnerabilities over time. During the course of building envelope engineering, a significant amount of sealant is used to prevent water penetration, but even the tiniest oversight can cause big problems.

Insulation Breakdowns

Insulation in a building is more functional than simply keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also acts as a barrier to prevent outdoor elements from getting into the home and causing problems with the building envelope. Without insulation, extreme temperature difference indoors compared to outdoors can create moisture and lead to building envelope failure.

Differential Movement

Thermal expansion of concrete, masonry or other building materials can lead to differential movement. This is one of the most difficult features for the average person to identify, since the changes are so subtle. Too much differential movement can cause the structure to fail in different ways. Getting a building envelope inspection frequently is sometimes the only way to identify and correct this issue.

Condensation

Condensation that builds up on windows during certain times of the year is generally harmless when it’s wiped away. However, when condensation builds up in between wall cavities, it could eventually cause building envelope failure. This type of condensation is more difficult to identify, and when you do, most of the time the majority of the damage has already been done.

BE Structural has a team of building envelope engineering experts to help you identify potential failures in your structure. If you have the ability to identify any of these signs on your own, then don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an inspection. It’s always a good idea to schedule regular inspections anyway to prevent building envelope failure from occurring in the first place.

Building envelope inspection

Is Your Building Envelope Failure Because of Workmanship Errors?

Just like there are many reasons why a building envelope may fail, there are many workmanship errors that can cause the failure to start. Following a building envelope inspection, most of the time the issue discovered boils down to a workmanship error during the design, construction or the installation of certain components of the home. Most building envelope failures are the result of water intrusion, and many times the expertise of building envelope construction is needed in order to identify the issues. Here’s how you can tell whether your building envelope failed because of a workmanship error.

Most Common Workmanship Errors

Since water intrusion is generally the most common reason why building envelopes fail, building envelope consultants typically identify workmanship errors as being the cause. Most of these errors deal with the improper installation or improper sealing of water diverters and end dams.

Not all workmanship errors derive from the installation process, however. Sometimes poor design and planning practices can also lead to issues with the building envelope. Sometimes it takes more than a simple building envelope inspection to determine the actual root cause of the error.

Can Workmanship Errors Be Prevented?

Since there are many different people who work on the design and construction of any given building, a workmanship error is inevitable. However, sometimes these errors aren’t a result of negligence. Rather, it could be the installation professional did not have access to the original design plan or was not instructed correctly. In order for every single workmanship error to be prevented, each person involved with the process of constructing a building from start to finish must be on the same page and have a clear understanding of the installation requirements.

Building Envelope Inspections Can Reveal Facts

You will never truly know where an error originated from unless you have a thorough building envelope inspection conducted. Whether it’s a residential or commercial building, these inspections can actually begin the investigation process of determining who is at fault for the building envelope failure. Many times it’s discovered that the person who performed the installation actually isn’t at fault at all.

BE Structural has a team of building envelope consultants to thoroughly analyze and evaluate the reasons why a particular building envelope may have failed. The extensive process of the inspection is detailed and is the only way to truly identify whether the failure was caused by workmanship errors or any other reason. To learn more about the process, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Forensic engineering firms

How a Forensic Engineer Can Help After a Water Leak

Intruding water in large amounts can be devastating to a home or office space. But even the smallest drip of water leaking every few seconds can cause a significant amount of damage as well. The longer the leak goes undetected, the more potential damage can occur. The role of forensic engineering firms is to send an expert out to find the source of the leak so it can be fixed, and then go a step further to analyze why the leak started in the first place. Both of these roles are important for different reasons, and here are the reasons why.

Forensic Engineers Detect The Source of Water Infiltration

Sometimes you may not even know you have water infiltration until you notice a warped floor, rotted wood or water spots on your ceiling. By that time, the damage is already done, but finding the source of the problem, is still paramount.  

A secondary issue arising from water infiltration is mold.  Mold can be deadly when left unchecked.   After a thorough analysis is complete, the forensic engineer is responsible for telling the story of how the water infiltrated the building envelope and what should be done to remedy the problem.  

A Failure Analysis Must Be Conducted

When you have water damage in your home or office, you should file an insurance claim as soon as possible. Most likely, the insurance company will send a forensic engineer to conduct a failure analysis to get to the bottom of the source of the leak. The analysis not only involves finding the source of the leak, but also the circumstances around the leak, how it happened and who is responsible for it.

Why 3rd Party Forensic Investigations Are Needed

A 3rd party forensic structural engineering expert may be hired by the building owner directly in cases where the owner is not satisfied with conclusions of the insurance company’s engineer.  A forensic, structural engineering firm can be hired as a 3rd party, independent expert to investigate the building and probable cause of the water infiltration.  Their deliverable  is usually a stamped, Professional Engineering Report that includes onsite findings, probable cause or what is referred to as “origin” as well as recommendations for remediation.

At BE Structural, our team of structural engineers work every day to protect homeowners and business owners from catastrophic events like water events. Whether you need our services to do an initial inspection or to investigate an ongoing issue, an expert is just a phone call away. Be sure to contact us at any time to learn more about how we can help with any structural engineering and water infiltration concerns.

Building envelope consultants

Building Envelopes Cause a Rise in Energy

Saving energy is important in more ways than one. However, you could be wasting a significant amount of energy every day and not even know it. Even a minor leak in your building envelope can cause air from the inside to escape, or air from the outside to enter. This causes your HVAC system to run more often than it should, leading to wasted energy and higher costs. You can do inspections on your own, but it’s also well worth the investment to hire a facade engineering company to do a thorough inspection periodically as well.

Building Envelope Failure Leads to Higher Energy Costs

One of the main ways to lower your energy costs is to ensure your HVAC system is running as efficiently as it can. Having a leaky building envelope is one way to guarantee your system is working harder than it needs to. The source of the air infiltration can be virtually anywhere. The challenge is not only plugging up the air leak, but also determining what caused the leak to begin with so the problem can be addressed permanently instead of temporarily.

How to Inspect Your Building Envelope

The most likely areas for air leakage are around doors, windows and other cracks, seams and joints. Examine the integrity of these areas and see if you can identify anything out of the ordinary. In many cases, you can put your hand close to the area and feel if there’s a draft coming from the outside. But in more difficult situations, calling a facade engineering company to conduct an inspection for you can ensure you’ll identify the right issue and fix it to perfection.

Don’t Hesitate to Contact A Professional

When you’re dealing with building envelope failure, one of the best things you can do is hire building envelope consultants to do an inspection. In fact, scheduling these professionals to come out to your building frequently will not only help identify and fix the issues quickly, but also prevent issues from occurring in the first place. The cost of hiring professionals is minimal when you compare it to the potential wasted money on your energy bills as a result of a leaky building.

BE Structural is comprised of a team of building envelope consultants ready to help you do a thorough inspection of your building. Energy costs are rising for various reasons, so having a secure building creates more energy efficiency and cost savings. Be sure to reach out to us to see how our professional inspections can help you save energy, time and money.

Building envelope inspection

Common Mistakes Made When Building Envelopes Fail

A building envelope is important to keep the inside of the building safe, as well as maintain the overall integrity of the building. However, when a failure is identified, action needs to be taken right away in order to prevent major issues from occurring. Not only could these issues lead to an increase in costs, but they could also create an unsafe environment. Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when a building envelope fails, and what you should do instead.

Not Having A Sense of Urgency

An issue with a building envelope isn’t going to fix itself. In fact, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better until you take action to repair it. If you’re dealing with a moisture leak, air leak or other problem, having a sense of urgency to fix it will prevent long-term damage from occurring. Depending on the type of issue, it may be worth it to bring in a building envelope engineering company to evaluate the issue and determine the source of the problem.

Temporarily Fixing The Problem

It’s easy to add some sealant or tape to a leaking area. However, that’s doing nothing to actually fix the problem. Conducting a temporary fix may work for a few days or even a few months, but more times than not it will lead to bigger issues in the future. A simple building envelope inspection can help you identify exactly what went wrong so you can fix the leak or other issues properly and never have to worry about it again.

Not Identifying The Source of The Failure

Finding the source of the building envelope failure is easier said than done for most people, which is why many people don’t take the time to do it. If you find water on the inside of your building, it means there’s a problem on the outside of the building most likely. Simply putting a patch on the inside to plug the leak will force the water to go in a different direction to cause a similar problem. This is just one example of not identifying and fixing the source of the failure. Not conducting a thorough building envelope inspection in these situations is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

BE Structural wants to ensure you don’t make these common mistakes when dealing with building envelope failure. We are a building envelope engineering company with extensive experience in not only identifying issues, but recommending the best course of action and following through with taking action. If you haven’t conducted a building envelope inspection in a while, contact us today to see how we can help protect the integrity of your building.

Forensic engineering

Monitoring the Effects of Commercial Construction and Demolition Vibrations

With the close proximity of buildings in urban areas today, commercial construction and demolition can create significant risks to existing buildings. However, with old buildings being demolished and new ones being built every day around the world, we have to adapt and ensure vibration damage is minimized. Monitoring and analyzing the potential and current impacts of construction and demolition projects are some of the most important roles for forensic engineering experts. Here’s how the technology works and why it’s so important.

What Exactly is Vibration Monitoring?

Throughout the vibration monitoring process, seismographic equipment records ground movement created by demolition and construction activity. Every structure has a vibration threshold, so when a sensor detects a vibration above the threshold, an alert is signaled to the construction crew working on the project. These real-time alerts can actually save a building envelope from being partially damaged or, in the worst-case scenario, completely destroyed.

Nearby Structures Could Be Affected by Demolitions

Every structure can withstand different levels of vibrations. And just because a vibration can be felt in a nearby building, it doesn’t necessarily mean any amount of damage has been done. Many business owners have concerns about the structural glass design of their building, but the reality is it’s measured just like any building envelope. Experts take the building material into consideration when analyzing construction and demolition vibrations, and special care is taken if a particular building has a low tolerance for structural vibrations.

The Role of Forensic Engineering

Forensic engineering plays a large role in determining how safe it is to proceed with a construction or demolition project. It starts by conducting pre-project surveys of nearby structures to determine whether there is any existing damage and to analyze the vibration tolerance of the building. Even the smallest cracks in a foundation can increase the chances of vibration damage.

Once the construction or demolition project is complete, forensic engineers survey the surrounding structures again to compare the reports. They will analyze the data from the vibration monitoring devices and determine whether any potential damage was caused by vibrations from the project. These detailed records are critical when potentially filing a claim on damage to a building.

At BE Structural, we have a team of forensic engineering experts with years of experience in monitoring and analyzing construction and demolition projects. Our role is to ensure the safety of every nearby structure that could be affected by vibrations. For more information about what we do and how we can help with your construction or demolition-related projects, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Structural glass design

Remarkable Structural Glass Use

The use of structural glass has evolved over the years to the point where it’s no longer considered simply a cladding material. Homeowners and businesses are realizing how a creative structural glass design can make a statement about your personality and how you approach business. The opportunities to be creative and have virtually endless options have challenged structural glass engineers to design some of the most unique structures ever seen. Here are three of the most remarkable uses of structural glass we’ve come across.

Harlem Hospital Center, New York City

The Harlem Hospital Center has a unique structural glass wall that’s nothing short of greatness. It has essentially used glass to create a work of art on the building facade. They’ve used silk-screened glass to place digital images to set an impressive scene of their facility. Every single detail of the facade was taken into consideration, even during the night when the art is still visible due to the backlighting from the building’s interior.

Metlife Lobby Wall, New York City

The Metlife Lobby Wall proves structural glass design doesn’t have to be only on the exteriors of buildings. The use of glass in this building provides one of the most unique lobby areas you’ll see, and it’s prominently placed between the entrance of the building and the escalators. The glass is semi-transparent, which clearly defines two sections of the space, but also keeps an open floor plan. The support structures also blend in well with the glass, so it almost appears as if the structural glass wall is floating in mid-air.

Elevated Acre Park Light Beacon, New York City

This unique structure rises high above the nearby park and is just as impressive looking during the day as it is at night. It truly gets its notoriety in the dark, though, since it uses a multicolor backlight to create a scenic view. The custom-fritted panels provide one of the most unique appearances you’ll ever see, which makes the Elevated Acre Park Light Beacon a popular attraction for both tourists and locals.

BE Structural has a team of structural glass engineers ready for any challenge presented to them. We’ve seen some of the most impressive glass structures in the world and are excited about the opportunity to work on a new project for your home or business. Be sure to contact us for a consultation to learn if a structural glass design is right for you and how we can help you achieve your vision.

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.

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.

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

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.