Category: <span>structural inspection</span>

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.

what to look for during a building inspection

4 Things to Look for During a Building Inspection

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

Foundation

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

Walls

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

Cracks

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

Building Code Violations 

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

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

Structural forensic engineer

Forensic Engineering Explores Steel Framing After a Fire

One of the many roles of forensic engineering services people may not be aware of is assessing steel framing following a fire in a building. Steel can withstand high temperatures, and sometimes it may even look like it was unaffected after a fire. However, even if it appears to be normal, the integrity of the steel could have been compromised. A structural forensic engineer looks at many different factors to determine the integrity and viability of steel framing following a fire. Here are some of those factors, along with some background on how fire affects steel.

How A Fire’s Temperature Impacts Steel Strength

The higher a fire’s temperature is, the more steel will be impacted. The framing could buckle and twist, as well as experience a reduction in stiffness and overall yield strength. But the unique thing about steel is it’s possible for it to regain all its properties back if the fire’s temperature does not exceed 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit for more than about 20 minutes. However, if the temperature is higher than that or it takes longer for the fire to be extinguished, then a structural forensic engineer will likely find some major issues with the integrity of the steel.

Determining Whether Steel is Usable After A Fire

If you happen to watch steel framing as a fire is taking place, the average person will deem it unusable. However, buckling and other deformations can occur in steel at relatively low temperatures. This does not mean the overall integrity of the steel framing is completely and permanently compromised, though. Each situation is unique, which is why forensic engineering practices are needed to determine exactly whether steel framing is strong enough for people to even walk into, much less use the building ever again.

How Forensic Engineers Assess Steel Framing

A structural forensic engineer will look at the external appearance of steel to determine how high the temperature of a fire got, and how long it remained at that temperature. If the steel looks a normal color and there are no other obvious deformities, then most likely the temperature was less than 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. But if the temperature exceeded that number, then the surface of the steel may appear oxidized, show signs of pitting, reduction of thickness and will have a different color. Once the structural forensic engineer determines the severity of the impact the fire had on the steel framing, he can determine whether the steel is usable as it is, if it can be used with slight modifications or if a complete replacement is needed.

BE Structural has a solid team of experts to provide many different forensic engineering services. A fire can cause an extensive amount of damage in a short period of time, so it’s important to have a structural engineer analyze the damage to deem the building safe or unsafe. To learn more about how the process works, feel free to contact us at any time.

Structural forensic engineer

3 Ways Due Diligence Can Extend the Life of a Building

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

Investigating Potential Structural Deficiencies

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

Identifying Patterns of Failure

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

Use Technology Advantageously

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

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

Structural forensic engineer

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.

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.

BE Structural forensic engineering services

The Various Ways Forensic Engineering Works

Forensic engineering comes in many different forms. Forensic engineering services are most often needed in order to determine why a building or structure failed. However, they can also be used in electrical engineering cases, power plant explosions and other types of investigations. A structural forensic engineer will never see the same case twice in their career, so there are many different ways they have to work in order to get to the root of the issue to determine fault.

Bridge Collapses

When a bridge collapses or starts deteriorating, you can guarantee expert witness services will be on the scene very shortly afterward. It’s important for these experts to get to the scene as soon as possible to look for any signs or clues of why the bridge failed. The failure could have been the result of a natural disaster that compromised the integrity of the bridge, or it could have been because of a design or construction malfunction from prior years.

Commercial Building Failures

Commercial buildings are investigated in a similar way as bridge collapses. However, with more people potentially in a commercial building at the time it could collapse, it’s even more important for forensic engineering services to find the cause.

A structural forensic engineer can be used in court to explain their expert opinion and what they saw when they visited the scene. Many times, their expert witness services can help solve a case and determine who is at fault. Unfortunately, injury, property damage and death and occur at the scene of commercial building failures. That’s why the importance of a structural forensic engineer is unmatched.

Forensic Engineers Get to the Root of the Problem

The main objective of any structural forensic engineer is to determine exactly what happened to cause the building or structure to collapse. Their job isn’t to convict anyone of wrongdoing. Instead, they present the facts as they see them. Many times, they have to re-create the entire story from the time the building was built until the time it collapsed. That’s exactly how they are able to solve a potential mystery.

At BE Structural, we have a team of structural forensic engineers ready to investigate any building or structural failure. We’ve provided expert witness services for these types of cases for many years, so feel free to contact us if you’re in the need of any of our quality services.

BE Structural expert witness services

Why You Shouldn’t Confuse Forensic Engineering With Other Types of Forensics

When most people hear the word “forensics,” they think of crime scene investigators trying to piece together evidence to solve a crime. While that is a true assumption in most cases, there are other types of forensics as well. Forensic engineers deal with investigating why a particular building or structure failed. The main goal of all forensic analysts is to get to the bottom of a particular issue, but they go about their jobs in different ways and shouldn’t be confused with one another.

Crime Lab Analysts vs. Forensic Engineers

A crime lab analyst may be directly involved in a legal proceeding in order to convict someone of a crime. A forensic engineer, however, is tasked with reconstructing a situation in which a structure failed, so evidence can be provided in a potential court proceeding. Both types of forensics are aided by expert witness services and other factors to help come to a conclusion.

Differences in Responsibilities

When it comes to building failures, many times an engineering expert witness is required to determine who is at fault for the failure that caused damage or injury. For crime lab analysts, a forensic expert witness may be used to provide a testimony as to what they saw that could have led to the potential crime happening. Crime lab analysts also may not even be involved directly in investigating the crimes. Instead, they just analyze the data and information given to them by the investigators in order to come up with conclusions.

Forensic engineers, on the other hand, are directly involved in the details. They provide their expert witness services to help put together the story of how a building failure occurred. In other words, they find the details themselves in order to determine how or why a structural failure happened and who is at fault.

Work Environments and Employers

Forensic engineers typically visit the scene of an accident personally to try to recreate exactly what happened. Many times these people are independent consultants, but can also be employed by law enforcement agencies. Crime lab analysts work primarily for law enforcement agencies and rarely visit the scene of a crime.

At BE Structural, our forensic engineers are out at the scene of an accident and are experienced in providing expert witness services in order to re-create a story exactly as it occurred. If you’re ever in need of forensic expert witness services to help with your building failure case, be sure to contact us.

BE Structural forensic engineering

Why Do We Use Forensic Engineering?

Most people have heard of forensics and relate it to investigating crime scenes. While forensic engineering includes just as much investigating, it is actually directed toward structural failures instead of crimes. Through forensic engineering, experts can determine the cause of a building or bridge collapse, or even smaller scale structural failures. In order to improve on construction processes, forensic engineers must be able to know exactly why buildings failed, so the same mistake doesn’t happen again in the future.

Determining Why Structures Fail

When any structure fails, a thorough forensic investigation is conducted to determine the exact cause—but what’s really the importance of making this determination? If there were any injuries or property damages as a result of the building or structure collapse, forensic engineering results can be used as evidence in a potential court case. Plus, if a certain type of material was the cause of the failure, it can be studied more in-depth to determine if it was the result of a faulty building material, or if it simply can’t withstand a certain amount of pressure or tension.

No Two Cases Are Exactly The Same

When it comes to forensic engineering, any professional will tell you no two cases are exactly alike. Because of that, it’s critical to do a thorough investigation with a clear slate every time there is a building or structural failure. Different structural forensic investigation services are tasked with analyzing debris, inspecting the site and immediate surroundings and interviewing nearby workers or bystanders to get witness testimony. The amount of detail analyzed in each case is extensive and necessary to tell the story of how and why a particular structure failed.

Forensic Engineers Tell a Story About a Structural Failure

In a forensic investigation, a forensic engineer will look at the broad scope at first and then narrow down the investigation as more details arise. The whole point is to basically conduct reverse engineering to determine exactly what caused the structure to fail. The process of getting together the full story could take weeks, months or even years, depending on the case. However, with the systematic process used in any forensic investigation, there is always a story to be told about exactly what happened.

Between our associates, we operate in 49 states nationwide to provide the best forensic engineering services in the industry. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the importance of or the reasons why we use forensic engineering.

B.E. Structural commercial property condition assessment

What to Know About the 40 Year Building Safety Inspection Program

The 40 Year Building Safety Inspection Program is a fancy way of saying your building needs to get a commercial property condition assessment when it is 40 years old. This program has been in effect for more than a decade, and applies to any commercial buildings, including schools, in Broward and Miami-Dade county. Property managers or business owners must consult with structural engineers to have a proper inspection completed at 40 years and then once every 10 years afterward. These inspections are designed to keep people safer from possible building failure during extreme weather conditions and other scenarios.

Purpose of the 40 Year Building Safety Inspection Program

The main purpose of the program is to ensure the building is safe from a structural and electrical standpoint. Many structural engineers spend the majority of their time conducting inspections on older buildings, and they are required to prepare a report of their findings. Buildings older than 40 years old may not be strong enough to withstand hurricane force winds and other weather phenomenons, so the purpose of the inspection program is to ensure the building is as safe as possible to prevent injury or death.

All 40 Year Old Buildings Must Undergo an Inspection

In Broward and Miami-Dade county, there are very few exceptions where a building would not have to have a commercial property condition assessment. Even if you haven’t used a particular building in years, the property owner is still responsible for participating in the program. The first step a property owner must take is to look for the best structural engineers. These engineers can help you through the process to ensure compliance from start to finish.

Timeline for the Inspection

When it comes time for a 40-year property assessment for commercial buildings in Broward and Miami-Dade county, the property owner will receive a notice that an inspection is due. At that point, the property owner will have 90 days to find a structural engineer to complete an inspection of the building and submit a report to either the city or the county. The report will indicate what parts of the building (if any) need to be repaired or replaced. The property owner will have another 180 days to complete the necessary repair work. The structural engineer will then prepare another report following the completed repairs.

It’s important to find only the  best Broward and Miami-Dade county structural engineers to complete your 40 Year Building Safety Inspection. Be sure to contact us to get in touch with one of our experienced professionals to help you complete your inspection.

Building Envelope Forensics

Identify leaks with the help of a structural engineering company.

A structural engineering company can help identify leaks.

When it comes to problems with building enclosures, the solution is usually never as simple as it seems. You may think a small pool of water in your office is just the result of a little leak in need of repair, but most of the time the root cause is much larger. The average person likely won’t be able to find the problem when a building envelope fails. In fact, it usually takes a structural engineering company to inspect the building to determine the true root cause. Building envelope forensics requires a basic knowledge, combined with expert investigative work, to get to the bottom of the issue.

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Forensic Engineering: Crane Collapse on the Tappan Zee Bridge

expert forensic witness

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Tappan Zee Bridge in New York is one of the busiest, since it connects the city’s northern suburbs. It’s estimated that around 138,000 cars travel on the bridge every day. It is currently undergoing construction, which is scheduled for completion in 2018. However, the completion date may be set back slightly after the recent collapse of one of the cranes being used for the bridge’s construction.

The crane supposedly malfunctioned and fell on the bridge, which caused the lanes to be shut down for hours. Fortunately, only minor injuries were sustained, including one construction worker, but the investigation into what caused the malfunction is just beginning.

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The Ins and Outs of Building Envelope Engineering

building envelope engineeringDepending on how much you know about the engineering industry, you may or may not have heard of building envelope engineering. However, it is a very important part of the engineering process, and involves the three basic components of a structure: the foundation, the walls and the roofing. If these parts of the building are not structurally sound, then the building itself is unstable and not fit for human use. It turns out that all three of these building components have one uniform purpose. The purpose of this article is to educate you on what they are, and how they’re a significant part of what structural engineers have to think about when they plan out an engineering project.

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Water and Ice: Your Building’s Worst Enemies

Prevent ice dams with a structural inspection.

A structural inspection can help prevent ice dams.

Did you know water can cause some of the greatest damage to your commercial and residential construction, even beyond other natural disasters? Understanding how water leakage occurs and what damage it can do, underscores the effect this force of nature can have on your building’s construction.  A forensic structural engineer will look for potential or current water damage during a structural inspection and suggest the necessary measures needed.

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