Tag: residential structural engineer

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.

More info