Tag: residential structural engineer

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.

Creativity

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

3 Ways a Structural Engineer Can Help With Your Custom Home

When a custom home is in the works of being built, there’s an entire team of people you need to look at hiring. These people include architects, interior and exterior designers, engineers, contractors for general work and many more. Most people don’t think about contacting structural engineering companies first, but the truth is finding a good structural engineer should be a top priority. No matter how good a home looks on the outside, it’s only as good as the structural engineer who designed the plans from the foundation all the way to the top of the chimney. Here are the main ways a structural engineer is important when you’re looking to build a custom home.

Structural Safety

Every structural engineering company prioritizes safety in all aspects of the work they do. When evaluating the location of a custom home, a structural engineer will look at factors like the soil, the climate in the area, what major weather events typically occur, the seismic activity and more. Sometimes it’s simply not safe to build a home with the exact orientation the homeowner wants, which is exactly why it’s important to take the advice of structural engineering experts.

Use The Right Building Materials

While safety is the first priority when building any custom home, structural engineers also want to bring a homeowner’s vision to life as much as possible. This can include wood framing, bamboo, masonry, steel or any other materials. Many times a structural engineer will get an idea of the vision the homeowner has and then go to work designing the home based on that. If it’s simply not possible or safe to build it exactly like the homeowner desires, then they will inform them accordingly. There are many different factors that go into the building materials used for any custom home, and the best structural engineers will still make the custom home look as close to the homeowner’s vision as possible.

Efficient Designing

Most people don’t think about contacting a structural engineer when designing their home. This is typically done by an architect. However, structural engineers put together plans for the design that takes into consideration the foundation, roof, framing and overall structural integrity to be able to support the desired designs. Architects and other contractors rely on structural engineers for this information, which is why they are typically the first experts needed when designing a custom home.

BE Structural has helped build hundreds of custom homes over the years. Our unique team is comprised of experts with various backgrounds and different levels of experience, so no project is too large, too small or too complex for us. In fact, we enjoy taking on complex custom home designs since it challenges our skills. If you’re looking into the possibility of having a custom home designed, contact us today to see what steps to take and how we can help you get started.

Structural engineering company

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.

Retrofitting

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

The Importance of Structural Engineering When Designing a Passive Solar Home

A passive solar home is unique due to the fact that essentially every element of the home is used to collect energy and distribute it evenly throughout the home. This includes the floors, roof, walls and even the windows. The only way these passive solar homes can be effective is by the careful and thorough design by a structural engineer. Everything from the area you build the home at, the materials, the base structure and more all combine to make a passive solar home useful. Here are some things to consider about structural engineering and passive solar homes.

Factors To Consider For Passive Solar Homes

The sun doesn’t have to shine around the clock in order for passive solar homes to work, but these factors are essential:

  • Location on the land you’re building on. By building the home on the northern side of the lot, the southern end of the home will have the clearest possible view of the sun.
  • The structure itself. Your structural engineer will tediously design the windows and walls to ensure they are exposed to as much sunlight as possible. Some windows should allow sunlight in, while other surfaces on the structure should absorb the heat to store and use at a later time.
  • Design materials. The most common materials used in passive solar homes include brick, tile, stone and concrete. These are the best thermal mass materials since they absorb and store heat from both the inside and the outside to be used at the appropriate times of the year.

Challenges When Designing Passive Solar Homes

From a structural engineering perspective, the main challenges of designing a passive solar home include ensuring the home is air tight and is structurally stable. Most passive solar homes will have a larger ratio of windows on the southern side of the building, which means there will be fewer structural shear walls on that side. In order to prevent damage to the windows because of the stress placed on them, trimming beams are usually specially designed to give them additional strength.

Collaboration And Comprehensive Analysis is Essential

A structural engineer must work closely with the design team and any other contractors who are working on a passive solar home. Since there are so many different nuances and various components to these homes, every detail is critical. Every good structural engineering company can take the lead in ensuring the home is designed and constructed safely and will be as effective as possible.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that has experience in residential, commercial and even non-traditional structures like passive solar homes. Our team has many years of experience and knows exactly what to look for throughout the designing and constructing process of these homes. To learn more about how we can help make your passive solar home dreams a reality, 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.

Structural glass design

The Advantages of a Modular Home

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

Better Quality Construction

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

Customized Design Options

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

Energy Efficiency Considerations

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

Reduced Construction Costs

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

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

Facade engineering

Adding a Level to Existing Structures in Major Metro Areas

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

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

Getting Scale and Proportion Right

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

Finding Room to Expand

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

Adding a Level Requires Give and Take

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

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

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

Concrete underground homes

Underground Home Structural Components

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

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

Type of Soil

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

Concrete Instead of Wood

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

Underground Home Rooftops

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

Thorough Planning is Involved in All Components

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

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

Custom underground homes

Factors to Consider When Planning an Underground Home

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

Climate

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

Soil

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

Natural Water Drainage

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

Construction Materials

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

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

Custom underground homes

The Myths Surrounding Underground Homes

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

Myth #1: Underground Homes Are Dark

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

Myth #2: Bugs Are Bad in Underground Homes

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

Myth #3: Underground Homes Are Damp and Cold

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

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

Underground homes

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

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

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

Urban Crowds May Expedite Underground Living

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

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

For Some Countries, The Future of Underground Communities is Now

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

Underground Communities May Become Inevitable

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

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

Custom underground homes

These Underground Homes Will Blow Your Mind!

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

The Hidden Lair in Switzerland

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

Flower-Shaped Home in Bolton, U.K.

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

Stone Home in Greece

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

Grassy Roof Home in Poland

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

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

Underground homes

What Are the Best Benefits to Underground Homes?

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

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

Energy Conservation

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

Extreme Weather Protection

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

Very Little Maintenance

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

Privacy Considerations

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

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

Underground homes

All About Reinforced Concrete Underground Homes: What Are They?

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

Homes Built Below The Surface

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

Reasons Why Underground Homes Exist

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

Structural Considerations for Underground Homes

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

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

BE Structural residential structural engineer

Renovation of Existing Structures and Their Environmental Impact

Commercial and residential buildings are beginning to be constructed with the environment in mind. However, the question has arisen whether it’s better for the environment to demolish and rebuild a new building or to renovate existing ones. The answer may surprise you, as studies have shown it’s more environmentally friendly to spend the resources renovating than building new structures. With the help of structural engineering services, many businesses and homeowners have turned to renovating their current buildings to become green.

Renovations Versus New Structures

When an existing building is torn down, it would take the environment anywhere from 10 to 80 years to recover from the resulting carbon impact. The reason is because there is a lot of stored energy and CO2 hidden in building materials that would all get released into the environment when a building is demolished.

A good residential structural engineer could reduce the amount of negative carbons released into the environment by renovating instead of rebuilding. Of course, the question remains about the difference between short-term and long-term impacts of renovating or rebuilding. The answer varies due to a variety of factors, but there will undoubtedly be some crossover after several years.

Going Green is Better for the Environment

Most people will agree that going green is better for the environment. However, every situation has to be evaluated before beginning. If too many harmful chemicals will be released into the environment by tearing down a building, a structural engineering company may suggest renovating instead. It’s a fine line to follow, but once the right decision is made, there’s no doubt a green building is better than a non-green building.

Where to Begin Renovating?

Before you begin major renovations on your home, be sure to reach out to a residential structural engineer. Not only will they give you advice on the types of materials to use, but they can also suggest whether it’s better to start from scratch. These engineers always have the environment in mind when they work on projects, so you can rest assured that is taken into consideration.

Minor renovations usually won’t have a large impact on the environment, but major ones could impact it significantly. If you have any concerns at all with your renovations, contact us at BE Structural. We are a structural engineering company with your best interests, and the best interests of the environment, in mind at all times.

B.E. Structural residential structural engineer

Four Prevalent Myths About Sustainable Building – and Why They’re Wrong

There’s a lot of information out there when it comes to sustainable building—so much that even structural engineers sometimes have to sift through it all to check what’s accurate and what isn’t. If you’re as interested in the subject as we are, we know you’ve read top to bottom about it. The only issue, however, is separating fact from fiction. You’d be surprised at how much “information” about sustainable building is anything but! To help you know what’s what, we’ve compiled a few myths about sustainable building, as well as evidence as to why you shouldn’t believe what others have to say.

1) You Have to Sacrifice Beauty for Sustainability

This particular myth has long been perpetuated by architects who’ve witnessed less-than-attractive buildings erected in the name of sustainability. While this may have been true in the past, when structural engineers were first deciphering how to create greener buildings in the first place, this certainly isn’t the case now. In fact, this really may not have ever been the case! With a simple Google search, you can easily find beautiful and sustainable structures all over the world. Engineers are discovering all sorts of ways to mold green materials into beautiful forms on a regular basis.

2) Sustainable Buildings Are Ineffective

Some experts believe the energy input of sustainable buildings isn’t much different from their non-sustainable counterparts. However, research and documentation shows this belief is far from the truth. Every residential structural engineer who’s successfully completed a project has seen amazing results in terms of energy and resource conservation. This is why so many people are seeking out more information on how they can “go green.”

Sustainability also offers efficient benefits by way of cost. Researchers are finding the initial value of a home already optimized for sustainability is smaller in comparison to a home that must be renovated into being “greener.” While simply reducing your energy usage and renovating your home for this purpose will cut costs in the long run, building green in the first place provides a much faster means of saving money and energy in comparison to the more gradual decrease provided by energy switching. Converting to greener living in the first place also produces costs within itself due to the change in equipment, meaning homeowners will have to spend even more out of pocket. Overall, it is far easier to plan a “green” home from the beginning than to try to make the switch with a less-sustainable home.

3) Only Hippies Are Interested in Sustainability

The ‘60s have long been dead. Beyond this point, in the face of mounting climate change, we believe everyone should be more invested in green living. You don’t have to be a hippie to simply conserve energy! In fact, the majority of people seeking out residential engineering services don’t reside in communes or anything of the sort, but live in suburbs and cul de sacs, just like everyone else. It’s irresponsible to assume only tree huggers care about climate change or energy conservation. Everyone can make a difference in this regard, and everyone should care about the planet. It’s the only home we all have.

4) Sustainability Is Only A Phase

Again, this is far from the truth! Green building and living has been developing for years and years, originating back during the time of Frank Lloyd Wright, who first called the concept “organic architecture.” Structural engineers have spent decades improving upon the principle, bolstered by governmental concern about resource and energy consumption. The “green living” movement we have now is simply one stage in a long evolutionary chain—one we hope shows no signs of stagnation.

We hope this article provides you with a more factual concept of green living and its importance. To learn more about sustainability and how you can better incorporate it into your life and home, we encourage you to get in touch with us.

B.E. Structural residential engineering services

Four Methods of Increasing Your Home’s Sustainability

These days, everyone’s becoming more invested in living “greener”—and for good reason! Environmental experts and structural engineers alike have been extolling the merits of converting to a more sustainable way of life in the face of rapidly increasing climate change. The only issue, for most people, is figuring out how to live greener! Where do you start? Where are the best places to cut down? Maybe you want to make a few renovations to your home, but are in need of a structural engineering expert to ensure your additions are permitted and professional. If you’re struggling with how to commit to sustainable living, this blog is for you! Read on for a few great and easy-to-implement suggestions.

1. Add Some Solar Paneling

This first suggestion may be one you want to save up for, but it’s well worth the investment! Solar panels are a newer type of energy source meant to replace the common power line. At B.E. Structural, we’ve performed quite a few solar panelling jobs in a variety of styles and locations, from ground-mounted to roof-mounted to ballasted to attached, for both residential and commercial properties.

While you might balk at the $10,000 minimum to install solar paneling on the roof of your home, we feel it’s worth mentioning this is nothing compared to the amount you’ll pay for your electric bill in the long term. In fact, you can set up a payment plan that works very similarly to your current bill, except it can eventually be paid off completely. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy massive amounts of clean energy at virtually no cost!

2. Swap Out Your Toilets

Sometimes the biggest problem with your energy usage can be solved simply by making a few changes to your bathroom. Have you wondered how much water your toilet uses on a regular basis? The average commode can use as much as six whole gallons with every flush, making some bathroom trips much more wasteful in more ways than one! To reduce your water usage, as well as your monthly bill, you can invest in a low-flush unit that uses a mere one gallon with each flush. You’ll notice the difference within a few months!

3. Change Your Light Bulbs

Despite its size, the average light bulb is incredibly wasteful, and can spike your energy bill up by huge amounts. Your typical bulb can cost nearly $14 in contribution to your bill. This is due largely to the type of energy being output. Halogen may serve your needs well, but it doesn’t last nearly as long or save nearly as much money as an LED fixture would. It’s true LED bulbs cost quite a pretty penny, averaging at around $20 a bulb, but compare the $14 charge per bulb for halogen lighting to the whopping $2 a bulb for LED. Any residential structural engineer will tell you there’s no contest!

4. Start Composting

It’s a well-known fact that waste makes…well, waste! However, there’s a bit more you can do with yours and your family’s garbage than simply drag it out to the street once a week. Consider starting a compost heap using some of the more organic bits of what you throw out, such as fruit and vegetable peels and eggshells. This is a great option for people with home gardens, as this compost can be made into fertilizer. If you have family members or friends who are into gardening, you can also simply pass your compost along to them.

There are many other ways of boosting your home’s sustainability, many of which you can receive help with by commissioning your local residential engineering services. If you want to know more about how you can paint a greener home and lifestyle, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to speak to a residential structural engineer!

B.E. Structural custom eco friendly home construction

A Brief Guide to Sustainable Wood

Are you familiar with the concept of sustainable wood? For most people, the answer would be a confused look and a solid “No.” Most people have certainly heard of wood itself, since it’s used to construct pretty much everything, from houses to commercial buildings to furniture. However, sustainable wood is a fairly new concept, though it’s starting to gain some traction in the world of custom eco friendly home construction. If you’re looking to build a home in the near future, and are interested in making it as green as possible, you may want to consider using sustainable wood for construction. Read on to learn all about what sustainable wood is and what it has to offer.

So, What Is Sustainable Wood?

The source of sustainable wood lies predominantly in what is referred to as sustainable forests. These forests are specially cared for by professionals who work to ensure the living things within the forest’s range are able to live for as long as possible and weather all kinds of damages. Compare this to the average forest, such as the situation with the Amazon, which frequently suffers from its resources being used far faster than they can be replenished.

This isn’t the case with a sustainable forest, or sustainable wood. Should the wood of your home be damaged, you can easily find a replacement and won’t have to worry about harming the tree or tree species it’s produced from. In turn, you will also be able to better support the environment simply by choosing a wood source guaranteed to exist long enough to help combat negative environmental effects.

Types of Sustainable Wood You Can Choose From

You can work with a residential structural engineer to ensure you use only sustainable wood for your home—but how do you know the wood you’ve chosen really is sustainable? Here’s a brief list of some of the most common types of sustainable wood:

  • White Oak can be found throughout the eastern United States, and is well-known for its resilience. You can find it in many different shades. It is best and most commonly used for floors and kitchen furniture, such as countertop bases and cabinets.
  • White Ash’s claim to fame lies with the US’s favorite pastime: baseball! Most baseball bats are in fact made from white ash, which is why it’s considered a home run among residential structural engineers. Outside of the baseball field, you can find white ash as furniture pieces—especially the more intricate varieties. It is quite flexible and easy to shape. White ash generally hails from central and eastern parts of the country.
  • Maple’s not just for sourcing your favorite pancake topping! It’s a favorite among contract engineering services due to its extreme flexibility. It comes not just in a variety of colors, but also strengths. Found all across the United States, maple wood is commonly converted into the most functional parts of the home, from the flooring to the paneling to your built-in kitchen furnishings.
  • Rescued lumber can be pulled from other, pre-existing buildings, such as old barns, that were originally crafted through heavy timber construction. Professionals can save the wood from these abandoned structures and recycle them through the construction of your property. This is yet another great, green method of gathering necessary lumber.

Now that you know a little more about sustainable wood, why not consider implementing it into your home construction or renovation? Our team at B.E. Structural can help you learn more about this important material, as well as help you decide which species of wood is best for your home needs. Feel free to contact us to learn more today!

B.E. Structural residential engineering services

Are There Any Benefits to Micro Homes?

These days, micro homes—incredibly small, often portable homes usually designed for single or couple living—are all the rage. People from far and wide are commissioning residential engineering services to create their own micro homes, marking their appeal as the ultimate cozy and green home…or is it? Do micro homes really live up to the hype? Besides coziness, what benefits can they even bring to their occupants, or the world at large? Keep reading to find out!

Easy to Clean

Naturally, the less space you have in your home, the less area you’ll have to tidy up. Additionally, when you move to a micro home, there simply won’t be enough space to keep all of your things. You’ll have to plan carefully where you want everything to go, and get rid of things you don’t have a place for and/or otherwise don’t need. It’s a great way to get into decluttering, if you’re of that home decorating philosophy. Everything in your home will have its own place and purpose. Best of all, no longer will you have to worry about tripping over things you’ve haphazardly dumped onto your floor!

Carbon Emission Shrinks

Smaller homes also tend to mean much lower energy usage, as you’ll have to power, heat and cool a much tinier space. This is especially great news for structural engineers, who have long toiled to find greener solutions to all sorts of construction-based problems. If you, too, are concerned with living greener, a micro home may be just the ticket.

Portability

Does wanderlust run through your veins? If you want to travel more often, but don’t want to have to worry as much about accommodations, you may want to consider purchasing a micro home. They are extremely portable, thanks largely to their diminutive size! All you have to do is attach it or load it onto a truck and you’re ready to go. Best of all, you can easily be entirely self-sufficient even while on the road. Depending on its design, you may need to hook it up to an RV station to receive the utilities you need. However, if you pick a micro home with natural energy storage, you just have to situate it where it can easily gather sunlight and rain.

Affordability

As it stands, commissioning a residential structural engineer to build your micro home is still far cheaper than purchasing an average-sized home and setting up a mortgage. Smaller homes mean engineers and builders use less resources for its construction, as well as less land area.

Should you decide to live in a micro home, you’ll find your bills and other expenses will significantly reduce! After all, you just aren’t using as much energy or other resources as you would in a larger home. However, both you and your wallet will appreciate the lighter load!

These are only a few of the best reasons to consider building a micro home. To learn more about what makes micro homes great, as well as look into obtaining one of your own, reach out to us to get in touch with a residential structural engineer.

2016’s Newest Steel Building Trends

commercial steel engineering

Courtesy of Rutgers Business School

With steel engineering and architecture constantly evolving, we thought this would be a good opportunity to visit some of the newest steel technologies of 2016.  Many people underestimate the amount of ways that residential and commercial structural engineering can be used to effectively personalize almost any structure.  To see a couple examples of how steel technologies are being used today, we will take a look at some of the projects that have earned national recognition this year.

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