Tag: Forensic engineering services

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.

Forensic engineering firms

How a Forensic Engineer Can Help After a Water Leak

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

Forensic Engineers Detect The Source of Water Infiltration

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

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

A Failure Analysis Must Be Conducted

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

Why 3rd Party Forensic Investigations Are Needed

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

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

Forensic engineering

Monitoring the Effects of Commercial Construction and Demolition Vibrations

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

What Exactly is Vibration Monitoring?

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

Nearby Structures Could Be Affected by Demolitions

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

The Role of Forensic Engineering

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

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

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

Structural forensic engineer

3 Ways Due Diligence Can Extend the Life of a Building

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

Investigating Potential Structural Deficiencies

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

Identifying Patterns of Failure

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

Use Technology Advantageously

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

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

Structural forensic engineer

How Structures Survive Hurricanes

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

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

Building Exteriors Are The First Lines of Defense

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

What Happens If A Building Exterior Fails


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

Framing and Foundation

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

Minor Missed Details Lead To Major Disasters

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

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

 

Forensic structural engineering

Hurricanes Force Building Codes to Improve

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

Focus on Exterior Building Components

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

The Role of Forensic Structural Engineering in Building Code Improvement

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

As Technology Advances, So Will Engineering

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

Structural forensic engineer

Assessing Structural Damage After a Hurricane

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

What Happens in a Structural Damage Assessment

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

The Role of Structural Engineers in Hurricane Damage Assessments

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

Preventing Damage in The Future

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

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

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.

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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.