Category: <span>structural engineering</span>

Forensic Inspections - Harrisburg philadelphia and Baltimore

Do you need a home inspector AND a structural engineer when buying a home?

Written by: Dana Pezzuti, Director, BE Structural

I have worked for a structural engineering firm for the last twelve years and one question I often hear from our residential clients is-

Do I need a home inspector AND a structural engineer to look at a house before purchase?

The answer I give them is- Yes and a resounding yes- if the home inspector discovers glaring structural issues..

  1. We recommend, first, having a home inspector make a general inspection of the property.  A home inspector should be the first professional you hire when considering a house for purchase. Home inspectors will evaluate the overall serviceability of the home including the electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems. Their assessment is general in nature and if they find a potential problem with home’s foundation, roof or framing  systems-they will recommend that a structural engineer be hired to perform a more detailed assessment.
  2. In the event a home inspector suspects a structural issue or major serviceability problem- a structural engineer should always be consulted. It should be noted, even minor structural problems can fly under the radar. That is why it is our recommendation to hire a  licensed, structural engineer when considering the purchase of a home no matter the home inspection results. The amount of money on the line and the investment one commits to when buying a house, make hiring an engineer critical to avoid major problems down the road. 

The Benefits of Hiring a Structural Engineer after the Home Inspection-

Although a home inspector is the first line of defense and first inspection, its important to remember that a home inspector looks over the entire property- everything from the light switches to the toilet flushing properly. They are critical to the home buying process but their education and experience is limited. To become a certified home inspector , 5-8 months of study and a certification test is required. 

Conversely, a structural engineer must graduate with a four year degree and  then they can they take the test to become an engineer in training (EIT) . After passing the EIT exam one must study under a licensed professional engineer for four (4) years before they are eligible to sit for the test to become licensed, professional engineer. Engineering licensing is regulated by the department of state in each of 50 US states. 

Buildings and houses are made up of complex systems. The building envelope or “skin” of a s house  is composed of the walls, exterior, windows and roof. If any part of the building envelope is compromised, a home buyer may  be forced to spend thousands of dollars to make it right. Water infiltration can be devastating a bad building envelope is often the culprit.

The same is true for a house’s foundation and walls. These are “the feet and legs” Often times, foundation issues are covered up and concealed by finish work or furniture/equipment common to storage areas such as the basement. 

Those individuals who choose to skip an engineering evaluation,  are taking a chance that high dollar repair items may be missed- such as a compromised foundation, building envelope or roof system.

How Much Does A Home Inspection and Structural Engineering Inspection Cost?

The cost to hire a home inspector is usually between $300-600. A structural engineering inspection is usually between $600-900 for a standard 1k-3k square foot home.  When comparing the amount of money the average house will cost, these fees are minimal and dollars well spent to prevent future problems after the purchase.


A foundation problem can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 to fix. When assessing a potential property for purchase, it is critical to discover these issues prior to signing a contract. Keep in mind, houses have a past and skeletons in their closets too! If a potential buyer doesn’t uncover these “ghosts” before the purchase, they are inheriting all of these past issues and the headaches that come with a “problem property”.  Don’t take the chance- hire an engineer after your home inspection. No one wants a money pit! 

Home improvement Contractor

How to select home improvement contractor

Written by: Dana Pezzuti, Director, BE Structural

Keys to Success

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

Definition of Home Improvement

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

Examples of home improvement categories include:

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


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

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




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

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

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

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

Written contracts should generally include:

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


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

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

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

Do’s and Don’ts 


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


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


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

Better Business Bureau

Remodelers Council (NAHB)

National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)

Office of the Attorney General

Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General

Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act Helplines:

Consumer Helpline 888.520.6680

Contractor Helpline 717.772.2425

Attorney General of Maryland

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

Attorney General of Virginia:

Building Envelopes

The Building Envelope-Why is it so important?

Three factors to consider when designing New Building Envelopes

Written by: Dana Pezzuti, Director, BE Structural

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.What is the building use?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE Structural Facade engineering

Filing for the Façade Inspection & Safety Program (FISP)

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

What the FISP Accomplishes

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

Filing Requirements

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

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

Consequences for Not Filing the FISP Report

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

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

2020 structural trends

2020 Structural Engineering Trends

Structural Engineering Trends for 2020

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

Funding and processes

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

Going green

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

Modular construction

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

Zero waste practices

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

Sustainable materials

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

questions to ask a structural engineer before hiring

Ten Questions to Ask a Structural Engineer Before Hiring

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

What specific field do you specialize in?

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

What projects have you completed?

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

Are you aware of local code requirements?

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

How do you collaborate with other contractors on the project?

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

How do you invoice projects?

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

What are your qualifications?

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

Does the structural engineer understand the scope of the project?

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

Can you provide proof of insurance?

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

Do you have any repeat clients?

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

Do you have references we can contact?

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

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

Flooring Methods to Reduce Vibrations

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

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

Live load deflection limited to L/360 

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

Live load deflection limited to L/480 

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

Live load deflection limited to L/960

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

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

Building Collapse - Notre Dame

Why do we grieve for a collapsed building?

Written by Dana Pezzuti, BE Structural, PC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#NotreDame  #Building Collapse               #Structural Engineering #ForensicEngineeirng

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 engineer

What Qualities Should Your Structural Engineer Have?

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


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

Extreme Attention To Detail

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

Innovative Strategic Thinking

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

Problem Solving

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

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

Structural engineering company

5 Common Structural Issues in Industrial Buildings

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

Interior and Exterior Wall Damage

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

Damage To Columns

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

Inadequate Framing

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

Poor Roof Draining System

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

Neglected Maintenance Practices

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

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

Structural engineering company

See to Believe These Captivating Structures Opening This Year

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

Royal Academy of Arts Bridge

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

Cosmos Arena

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

The Grand Egyptian Museum

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

National Museum of Qatar

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

Olmsted Locks and Dam

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

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

Structural engineering company

Will Building with Timber Ever Become the Norm?

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

Location Is A Major Factor

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

Problems With Using Timber in Construction

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

Timber Combined With Other Materials is More Effective

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

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

Structural engineering

How the Structural Engineering Industry is Changing with Technology

Technology impacts every industry in many different ways. As technological advancements continue to develop, structural engineering professionals always have to stay informed to ensure they are using the best practices. Whether it’s by incorporating more energy efficient materials or boosting productivity and efficient processes in the construction process, technology is typically beneficial for a structural engineer. Here are some of the main technological advancements used in structural engineering today.

The Use of Drones in Construction

Drones are used by structural engineering professionals to take aerial photos of a construction site, monitor activities and survey areas where accessibility is limited. The photos taken by drones have high resolution and can be used to take measurements, create digital models and much more. Plus, the use of drones is much safer for a structural engineer when it comes to surveying tall areas like roofs or bridges.

3D Printing

3D printing has significantly developed over the last several years. And in the coming years, it is expected to become an even more valuable resource for structural engineering professionals. Using 3D printing allows experts to create more accurate design details, as well as more customization for projects. 3D printing is typically used most effectively for commercial properties or in large-scale residential complexes.

Data Analysis Tools

There is a lot of data collected by a structural engineer before, during and after any construction project. Analyzing this substantial amount of data is important, but sometimes isn’t possible due to the sheer quantity. Data analysis tools continue to develop today to help structural engineering experts analyze the data collected most effectively. The technology, software and cloud solutions available today help gather significant amounts of data quickly and make it easily accessible to all members of the construction team to promote efficiency, accuracy and more.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality tools are typically used at the beginning stages of the design process. One of the main uses for these tools is to visualize how a particular construction design will fit in any given area. This allows structural engineers to identify any potential errors or complications and can fix them before the project even begins.

Virtual reality technology includes scanners and drones to collect information. This technology is helpful not only in the design process, but also to allow project managers to constantly monitor the progress of the project without having to be physically present. Accuracy and efficiency are the two main benefits of virtual reality tools and are increasing in importance every day.

BE Structural stays on top of the latest technological trends to ensure the most valuable resources are being used at all times. Any structural engineering company that doesn’t adopt the latest technology leaves room for critical errors which could be prevented. By combining technology with our years of experience and substantial knowledge, we are your go-to resource for any construction or renovation project. Be sure to contact us to learn more about the technology we use today.

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What Materials are used in Sustainable Structural Engineering?

As people and companies become more conscious about energy consumption, perspectives in structural engineering are changing as well. It’s easy to upgrade appliances or install energy efficient equipment into new home designs, but those can get costly very quickly. The good news is there are sustainable materials used around the world today that are safe for the environment and can make very nice homes. Here are some of the materials a structural engineer will consider using when building a sustainable home.

Earth Bags

Earth bags are made of polypropylene material and are filled with soil and other inorganic materials. They are designed to hold up better than concrete or bricks, since the bags will not crack or be easily damaged during events like an earthquake. Earth bags are used prominently today in developing countries to build sustainable homes.

Earth Blocks

A structural engineering company will sometimes use earth blocks instead of bricks to create a more sustainable design. The earth blocks consist of a mix of clay, rubble and subsoil and are compressed at a very high pressure. In fact, earth blocks are actually stronger than concrete blocks or bricks, but only use a very small amount of cement. By using a small amount of cement, earth blocks are sustainable and reduce the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.


Seismic retrofitting can be used to rebuild, repair or strengthen structures in general. After a structural engineer evaluates a building, they can perform actions such as repairing any damage, increasing shear wall density, strengthening ground conditions and more. Seismic retrofitting has helped strengthen thousands of buildings worldwide, especially in developing countries that experience earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Trombe Walls

Trombe walls are used in sustainable structural engineering to create more of a passive solar design in homes. The outside of the walls are made with plastic or glass panes, and the inside of the walls have a higher heat capacity. What makes these walls sustainable and energy efficient is the fact that the external wall will absorb the daytime heat and transfer the heat into the home when needed. Trombe walls are used effectively in areas where sunlight is present the majority of the time and people want to create a more sustainable and energy efficient design for their structure.

BE Structural is a team of experts with a wide range of experience. Our structural engineering company has worked with sustainable materials in different construction projects, and we always practice innovative thinking. It’s important to work with a qualified structural engineering professional if you’re considering using sustainable materials for your next construction project, so contact us to see how we can help you.

Structural engineering

3 Types of Failures in a Steel Structure

Steel structures are unique in both an appearance and construction aspect. Steel is an extremely strong material with many different levels of strengths and members that all have to be connected correctly in order to make a building structurally sound. Not all steel members are created equally with the same strength, so structural engineering professionals must test the strength of each member against the force put against it during construction. Not doing so can lead to structural failure, which can cause devastating consequences. Here are three of the most common types of failures in steel structures that every structural engineering company sees.

Beam Failure

Beam failure in steel structures doesn’t occur very often, but it is a legitimate concern every structural engineer has to be conscious of. This type of failure happens when a beam doesn’t flex properly or experiences something called lateral torsional buckling. Since pressure is typically not applied directly to the center of the beam during construction, twisting can occur. Failure typically happens when the beam is not braced with anything to support the twisting motion.

Tension Failure

Every structural engineer knows the risks and consequences of trying to stretch any given material too much. When designing any given member in tension, structural engineering professionals must be cautious of a possible net section rupture or block shear failure. These are two common failures directly related to tension, but typically do not occur when an experienced structural engineer works on the project.

Connection Failure

Connection failure is by far the most common type of failure in a steel structure. The connection is typically the first component to fail if the force of the load is more than anticipated. When a structural engineer designs the construction of a building, they use precise calculations to determine the strength of bolts or other connections needed. However, one minor miscalculation or a misstep in the construction process can lead to unpredicted force and failure at that particular connection. The challenge for every structural engineer is to take human error into consideration during the construction phase and design the connections to withstand a little more force than calculated.

BE Structural is here to help with your commercial or residential construction project, structural inspection, complete building renovation and anything else related to your building. We are proud to have a diverse group of structural engineering professionals so we can handle any project, no matter how large or small it is. To learn more about how our team can help you or your company, contact us today.

Structural engineering

How to Choose the Right Engineering Firm For Your Job

The success of any construction project can be greatly impacted by the structural engineering company you hire to do the analysis upfront. Every structural engineer has their own strengths, weaknesses and experiences, so finding the right fit for your particular project is important. You may have to spend some time and effort researching the best companies, but you’ll be rewarded in the end. Here are important things to consider when choosing the right structural engineering company.

Consider Qualifications Rather Than Cost

Choosing a structural engineering firm based solely on cost is one of the worst things to do. Instead, your decision should be based on their qualifications as it relates to your specific project. For example, consider the firm’s experience with other similar jobs, how available they are, their performance history, technical skills and certifications, values, timeliness and more. Your chances of being pleased with the entire process and end result will increase when these qualifications are given higher regard than the cost.

Ensure Compliance Codes Are Prioritized

The structural engineering company you ultimately hire should adhere to all compliance codes in your area. If they do not prioritize these compliance codes, you could be on the hook for fines and potential long-term issues. Be sure to have a serious and extensive discussion with the structural engineer from the firm you’re considering and get a comprehensive answer regarding how they adhere to compliance codes.

Evaluate Their Attitude and Behavior

You have to feel comfortable with the structural engineer in more ways than one. Since you’ll be collaborating with them extensively over the course of the project, evaluating their behavior and overall attitude is important. Make sure you are on the same page from the very beginning. When you get the sense the structural engineering firm has your best interests in mind, you’ll feel more comfortable moving forward with them.

Have A Structured Agreement In Place

No matter how much you trust the structural engineer, you have to have a structured written agreement in place to save yourself from potential issues in the future. Most large structural engineering companies will have these documents ready, but it’s also advisable to have your own legal counsel evaluate the agreement.

BE Structural is a team of experienced structural engineers ready to go to work for you. We have experience in many different areas, including structural inspections, custom home design and renovations, commercial property assessments, industrial engineering services and much more. When you’re ready to begin your next project, contact us to start the process of choosing the right engineering firm for your job.

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The Effects of Wind and Hail on a Flat Roof

Wind and hail can cause significant damage to buildings, and especially those buildings with a flat roof. The majority of commercial buildings have flat roof systems and can all be constructed differently. The most common construction materials include multi-ply asphalt systems, single-ply membranes or metal panels. The role of a structural engineer when constructing a commercial building is to determine the best material to use to withstand the weather conditions most commonly seen in the area. Some of the most damaging weather comes from wind and hail, and here’s how those conditions impact a flat roof.

Vulnerable Areas of A Flat Roof

With a flat roofing system, the most vulnerable areas prone to wind damage are on the corners and around the edges of the roof. This is due to the uplift pressure of the wind, which can actually be much faster than the horizontal wind speed itself. The problem with these vulnerable areas is when the perimeter of the roof gets damaged, it can start peeling back and lift up. In worst case scenarios, the wind pressure can get under the roof and essentially blow it off of the building. However, these scenarios are very rare, since structural engineering professionals have strict codes and guidelines to follow to ensure it doesn’t happen.

Is Hail Damage Only Cosmetic?

The type of roof covering used on a flat roof makes a difference in whether hail damage is only cosmetic or can create larger issues. Hail as little as ½” in diameter can create dents in a metal roof. While most of this damage is cosmetic, the finish on the roof could be compromised, cause rust and shorten the lifespan of the roof. Single-ply roofs are more vulnerable to experiencing damage that’s more than cosmetic. It will still take hail of 1” in diameter or more to cause serious damage, but every structural engineer suggests inspecting the roof frequently and thoroughly to determine any vulnerabilities.

Frequent Roof Inspections Can Prevent Significant Damage

Any structural engineering company will highly recommend conducting roof inspections often. The age of the roof plays a big role in how vulnerable it is to wind or hail damage. Too many commercial properties make the mistake of not replacing their roof soon enough, since severe wind and hail events don’t happen every day. But with the unpredictability of the weather, it’s best to be prepared and have a structural engineering professional out to make a recommendation on how to protect the roof from damage.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals with many different levels of experience. We are experts in commercial construction, residential construction and even various non-traditional projects. We are always available to serve you whether you have a new construction project or just need a thorough inspection of your property. For the best expert advice from a qualified structural engineer, contact us today.

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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.