Tag: structural engineering company

Structural engineering company

The Different Ways a Steel Structure Can Fail

The job of every structural engineer is to ensure any given building is safe and structurally sound. This can occur during the initial design of a building or during the inspection of an existing building. When it comes to steel structures, it’s hard to imagine them failing due to the strength of the building materials themselves. However, there are several different ways steel structures can fail, and most of them can be prevented with the help of great structural engineering practices. Here are the main ways steel structures can fail.

Insufficient Strength With Connections

Almost every time you hear about a steel structure failing, it’s because of a connection issue. A structural engineer has to put in an incredible amount of thought and detail when designing the joints and connections to ensure they are strong enough. Calculating the strength of joints and connections is a tedious process, and it’s important for the structural engineer and the construction professionals to be on the same page. Any type of miscommunication in the type of bolt or other materials to use can lead to insufficient strength and possible failure.

Tension Failures

Another possible failure in steel structures is putting too much tension on any given member. It takes a significant amount of tension to create this type of failure, and most of the time it only occurs when the structural engineer makes a mistake in the design process. Tension failures are widely known as the most dangerous type of failure, so every structural engineer places a high level of importance on it in the design phase.

Too Much Weight On Beams

Beams can fail in a steel structure as well. It’s fairly simple to figure out when this type of failure will occur, since it happens when the weight on the beams exceed the weight limit they can handle. Lateral torsional buckling is the main concern for every structural engineering company, since it involves predicting where the most significant amount of weight will be placed on the beam. The strongest point of the beam is in the center of it, so buckling could occur and lead to beam failure if the weight on either end of the beam is too much for it to handle.

BE Structural is a team of structural engineering professionals that has an extensive portfolio of construction and engineering projects. Whether a steel structure undergoes minor local buckling or has experienced significant structural failure, we have an expert ready to evaluate the situation and provide the best solutions. No project is too large, small or complex for our structural engineering professionals, so don’t hesitate to contact us at any time when you need us.

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The Problems the Millennium Tower is Facing in San Francisco

When the $550 million construction for the Millennium Tower in San Francisco was announced, there were no shortage of buyers ready to spend millions of dollars to purchase living space. However, less than a decade later, those buyers have lost significant value in their investment due to various unforeseen issues to the tower.

Various structural engineering companies, as well as geotechnical companies, are evaluating the building daily to analyze the cracks, sinking and leaning that are clearly present. While the problems with the Millennium Tower are evident, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the safety of it, who is responsible for these issues and what structural engineering experts are going to do about it.

How Safe Is The Building Today?

The good news is the last time a structural engineer evaluated the building, it was deemed to be safe to live in, even if an earthquake occurred. However, the fact that the sinking of the building doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon can’t be ignored. Structural engineering experts estimate the building will continue sinking between 1.5” to 2” every year, which simply means action needs to be taken now to prevent a potential disaster in the ensuing years.

Where The Blame Lies

Initial inspections indicate the main problem being in the foundation of the Millennium Tower. The soil it’s built on consists of sand, clay and mud, and the foundation does not even extend far enough down to reach solid bedrock. There’s some controversy surrounding the City of San Francisco and why they allowed the construction and design team to not anchor the foundation low enough to reach the bedrock.

Another area of blame has to do with the construction of the transit center that was newly built adjacent to the tower. The construction company responsible for building the Millennium Tower is suggesting the company that constructed the transit center pumped too much groundwater during their project, which caused the sand under the Millennium Tower to compress, and has resulted in the sinking.

Possible Solutions To Fix The Millennium Tower

As structural engineering experts continue to discover the reasons why the Millennium Tower is experiencing these problems, they are also developing short-term and long-term solutions. One of the possible solutions includes removing some of the top floors in order to reduce the weight of the tower. The most discussed solution for the long-term is to bore micro piles on the side of the building that’s sinking in order to eventually anchor it to the bedrock underneath. Once this occurs, the high side of the building must sink to the level of the low side before the anchoring can occur. This proposed solution could take up to five years and cost several hundred million dollars, but it is the most viable solution for the long-term, as analyzed by structural engineering experts.

At BE Structural, we always monitor these types of stories and are actually involved in many of them. We are a structural engineering company with experts coming from many different backgrounds and having various levels of experience. If you have any specific questions about the problems the Millennium Tower in San Francisco is facing, or have a need for a structural engineer, contact us today.

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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.

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5 Common Structural Issues in Industrial Buildings

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

Interior and Exterior Wall Damage

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

Damage To Columns

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

Inadequate Framing

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

Poor Roof Draining System

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

Neglected Maintenance Practices

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

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

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How Can Structural Engineers Build in a More Sustainable Way?

Waste is a common problem among many different industries worldwide, and the construction industry is one of the leaders in producing waste. However, with society becoming more aware and conscious of the materials they are using and how to properly dispose of them, structural engineering companies are also doing the same. This involves altering practices and procedures, disposing of waste differently, eliminating harmful compounds when using building materials and more. All of these combine to make more sustainable buildings and protect our planet as well. Here’s how structural engineering companies are building more sustainably today.

Incorporate Zero Waste Practices

Zero waste practices mean using products and materials that can be reused instead of discarded when they are no longer needed. A common example of this is when a structural engineer designs a building by using bolts for connections rather than welds. The bolts can be reused when the building gets remodeled or demolished, but anything welded will simply have to go to the landfill in most cases.

Eliminate Volatile Organic Compounds

Breathing in volatile organic compounds can be dangerous when ingested in large amounts. Building materials have traditionally contained these volatile organic compounds, but structural engineering companies are now being more conscious about the products and materials they use to ensure they don’t include them. Not only are these materials better for the environment, they also protect the construction workers who come in close contact with them.

Compost Waste Instead of Dumping in The Landfill

It’s easy for a structural engineer to say they’ll throw any waste in the landfill. However, many structural engineering companies today are composting some of their organic waste on the actual construction site when possible. This reduces the amount of waste in the landfills and also eliminates having to pollute the air with trucks driving to and from the landfills.

A Conscious Effort Will Go A Long Way

Being conscious of reducing waste and building in a more sustainable way will pay dividends for our environment in the future. The job of a structural engineer is to ensure a new project or a renovation project is designed in a safe manner, and also in a sustainable manner. Of course, it’s not always possible to apply all of these practices in every single construction product, but simply having sustainability in the back of the mind is a positive step forward for the environment.

BE Structural uses sustainable practices whenever possible. As a structural engineering company, it’s our job to ensure every building is designed and constructed safely. However, we are also very conscious of the environment we live in and the safety of the air we breathe. Quality does not have to be sacrificed when incorporating sustainable practices, so contact us today to see how we include these practices every day.

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See to Believe These Captivating Structures Opening This Year

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

Royal Academy of Arts Bridge

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

Cosmos Arena

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

The Grand Egyptian Museum

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

National Museum of Qatar

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

Olmsted Locks and Dam

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

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

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Will Building with Timber Ever Become the Norm?

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

Location Is A Major Factor

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

Problems With Using Timber in Construction

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

Timber Combined With Other Materials is More Effective

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

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

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How the Structural Engineering Industry is Changing with Technology

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

The Use of Drones in Construction

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

3D Printing

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

Data Analysis Tools

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

Augmented and Virtual Reality

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

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

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

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What Materials are used in Sustainable Structural Engineering?

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

Earth Bags

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

Earth Blocks

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

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.

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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.

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3 Types of Failures in a Steel Structure

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

Beam Failure

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

Tension Failure

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

Connection Failure

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

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

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How to Choose the Right Engineering Firm For Your Job

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

Consider Qualifications Rather Than Cost

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

Ensure Compliance Codes Are Prioritized

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

Evaluate Their Attitude and Behavior

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

Have A Structured Agreement In Place

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

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

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The Answers Behind the Miami Pedestrian Bridge Collapse

Back in March 2018, a pedestrian bridge under construction in Miami collapsed and killed six people. The project was designed to create a unique walkway to help students at Florida International University cross the highway safely. However, the unique design proved to be too difficult to accomplish and a fatal flaw in the construction process was never discovered. In the several months since the accident occurred, more answers have surfaced as structural engineering experts have been analyzing the situation and have contributed countless hours of investigative work.

What Caused The Bridge To Collapse?

Structural engineering experts have concluded that the complex structural design of the bridge left an obvious weakness at a connection point. This is most likely the reason why the bridge collapsed, since the amount of stress put on the concrete brace was too much for it to handle. As every structural engineer evaluates the situation, it’s becoming even clearer this was the problem that led to the devastating consequences.

The Bridge Was Not Structurally Sound or Logical

Prior to the pedestrian bridge collapsing, engineers noticed cracks in the concrete and became worried. Investigators believe the construction crew was working to tighten the steel rods in the support truss in order to address the cracks when the bridge collapsed. It’s possible the overtightening of the steel rods led to them snapping and causing the bridge to collapse under its own weight.

What’s being discussed at length is the design of the bridge itself. The unique design seemed like a good idea, but it’s clear it was a little too over-the-top for the structural engineering team working on it. Some of the findings by independent structural engineering firms have led to similar conclusions, which are that it’s inconclusive as to who is actually at fault. The atypical design of the bridge did not make it structurally sound, but the calculations and plans for the project did not clearly indicate what the root cause of the issue was.

The Role of Structural Engineers in The Investigation

Answers will still be coming over the course of several months or years, and structural engineering experts will be at the forefront of them. The role of a structural engineering company and its experts is to present the facts to the investigative team. As of now, it appears the structural design was the main cause for the bridge collapsing, but as further evidence is discovered by structural engineering experts, those answers could change.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that is well-rounded in anything involved with structural engineering. We are experts in more than just traditional engineering and construction, and always think outside of the box to better serve our customers. Feel free to contact us at any time to learn more about the Miami pedestrian bridge collapse or about how our company can serve you.

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The Effects of Wind and Hail on a Flat Roof

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

Vulnerable Areas of A Flat Roof

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

Is Hail Damage Only Cosmetic?

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

Frequent Roof Inspections Can Prevent Significant Damage

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

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

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The Advantages of a Modular Home

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

Better Quality Construction

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

Customized Design Options

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

Energy Efficiency Considerations

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

Reduced Construction Costs

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

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

Facade engineering

Structural Engineers Aim to Assist in a Zero-Waste Future

Excessive waste is a serious problem across many different industries, but it’s especially problematic in construction. It seems like no matter how much effort is put forth to reduce waste, the issue is still prevalent. Structural engineers are putting their best foot forward to create a zero-waste future, and with a continuous effort, they could be successful. From the design process to the components used and even bulk materials handling, here are ways structural engineers will have an impact on significantly reducing waste.

Detachable Building Components

Through forensic engineering investigations, results indicate a significant amount of waste can be reduced by using materials that can be detached rather than demolished. And even further in the future, the detached components could be recycled and used in other applications. Detachable components are far from being usable today, but it is something on the radar of every structural engineer.

Design For The Future

Another thing structural engineers are doing is requesting that the design teams think about the future of the building throughout the design process. Things to think about include how a building could potentially expand, be repurposed or have other functional implementation. Planning ahead in this manner could reduce the chances of having to demolish materials in order to expand or repurpose any given building.

Maintain High Performance, While Minimizing Resources

Technology is continuing to advance, whether it’s regarding facade engineering or any other component of the construction process. Structural engineers are placing an emphasis on using the latest technology to their advantage in order to use fewer resources, but still keeping performance at high levels. Many advancements in technology are designed specifically for this purpose, but they aren’t necessarily used accordingly.

Continuous Effort Will Reduce Waste

The more forensic engineering investigations that identify waste, the more structural engineers will push for a zero-waste future. We have come a long way in our efforts of reducing waste, but there is still a long way to go to eliminate it completely. When everyone involved in the construction process gets onboard with waste-reduction efforts, the better the chances are of it becoming a reality.

At BE Structural, our structural engineers and facade engineering experts constantly think about different ways to reduce waste. Through diligent and continuous efforts, we all work together and contribute to waste reduction practices. To learn more about how we are working together in our efforts to reduce waste, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.

Building envelope engineering

5 Key Components to Help Identify a Building Envelope Failure

By the time a building envelope fails, a thorough investigation has to take place to determine the exact cause. There are many reasons why this failure can occur on any given building, but identifying the issue takes some experience. With a building envelope inspection by a professional, most issues can be identified and corrected before major damage occurs. However, there are some signs you can look out for as well to help identify the potential for failure.

Air Leaks

If air leaks out of a building through windows, doors or attics, potential problems could arise. There could also be air leaks in a building you aren’t even aware of until your energy bill skyrockets. Air leaks are problematic because they can lead to condensation if the humidity from outside is being pulled inside.

Water Penetration Vulnerabilities

Sometimes poor design or construction of a building can lead to water penetration vulnerabilities over time. During the course of building envelope engineering, a significant amount of sealant is used to prevent water penetration, but even the tiniest oversight can cause big problems.

Insulation Breakdowns

Insulation in a building is more functional than simply keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also acts as a barrier to prevent outdoor elements from getting into the home and causing problems with the building envelope. Without insulation, extreme temperature difference indoors compared to outdoors can create moisture and lead to building envelope failure.

Differential Movement

Thermal expansion of concrete, masonry or other building materials can lead to differential movement. This is one of the most difficult features for the average person to identify, since the changes are so subtle. Too much differential movement can cause the structure to fail in different ways. Getting a building envelope inspection frequently is sometimes the only way to identify and correct this issue.

Condensation

Condensation that builds up on windows during certain times of the year is generally harmless when it’s wiped away. However, when condensation builds up in between wall cavities, it could eventually cause building envelope failure. This type of condensation is more difficult to identify, and when you do, most of the time the majority of the damage has already been done.

BE Structural has a team of building envelope engineering experts to help you identify potential failures in your structure. If you have the ability to identify any of these signs on your own, then don’t hesitate to give us a call to schedule an inspection. It’s always a good idea to schedule regular inspections anyway to prevent building envelope failure from occurring in the first place.

Building envelope inspection

Is Your Building Envelope Failure Because of Workmanship Errors?

Just like there are many reasons why a building envelope may fail, there are many workmanship errors that can cause the failure to start. Following a building envelope inspection, most of the time the issue discovered boils down to a workmanship error during the design, construction or the installation of certain components of the home. Most building envelope failures are the result of water intrusion, and many times the expertise of building envelope construction is needed in order to identify the issues. Here’s how you can tell whether your building envelope failed because of a workmanship error.

Most Common Workmanship Errors

Since water intrusion is generally the most common reason why building envelopes fail, building envelope consultants typically identify workmanship errors as being the cause. Most of these errors deal with the improper installation or improper sealing of water diverters and end dams.

Not all workmanship errors derive from the installation process, however. Sometimes poor design and planning practices can also lead to issues with the building envelope. Sometimes it takes more than a simple building envelope inspection to determine the actual root cause of the error.

Can Workmanship Errors Be Prevented?

Since there are many different people who work on the design and construction of any given building, a workmanship error is inevitable. However, sometimes these errors aren’t a result of negligence. Rather, it could be the installation professional did not have access to the original design plan or was not instructed correctly. In order for every single workmanship error to be prevented, each person involved with the process of constructing a building from start to finish must be on the same page and have a clear understanding of the installation requirements.

Building Envelope Inspections Can Reveal Facts

You will never truly know where an error originated from unless you have a thorough building envelope inspection conducted. Whether it’s a residential or commercial building, these inspections can actually begin the investigation process of determining who is at fault for the building envelope failure. Many times it’s discovered that the person who performed the installation actually isn’t at fault at all.

BE Structural has a team of building envelope consultants to thoroughly analyze and evaluate the reasons why a particular building envelope may have failed. The extensive process of the inspection is detailed and is the only way to truly identify whether the failure was caused by workmanship errors or any other reason. To learn more about the process, don’t hesitate 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.

Building envelope consultants

Building Envelopes Cause a Rise in Energy

Saving energy is important in more ways than one. However, you could be wasting a significant amount of energy every day and not even know it. Even a minor leak in your building envelope can cause air from the inside to escape, or air from the outside to enter. This causes your HVAC system to run more often than it should, leading to wasted energy and higher costs. You can do inspections on your own, but it’s also well worth the investment to hire a facade engineering company to do a thorough inspection periodically as well.

Building Envelope Failure Leads to Higher Energy Costs

One of the main ways to lower your energy costs is to ensure your HVAC system is running as efficiently as it can. Having a leaky building envelope is one way to guarantee your system is working harder than it needs to. The source of the air infiltration can be virtually anywhere. The challenge is not only plugging up the air leak, but also determining what caused the leak to begin with so the problem can be addressed permanently instead of temporarily.

How to Inspect Your Building Envelope

The most likely areas for air leakage are around doors, windows and other cracks, seams and joints. Examine the integrity of these areas and see if you can identify anything out of the ordinary. In many cases, you can put your hand close to the area and feel if there’s a draft coming from the outside. But in more difficult situations, calling a facade engineering company to conduct an inspection for you can ensure you’ll identify the right issue and fix it to perfection.

Don’t Hesitate to Contact A Professional

When you’re dealing with building envelope failure, one of the best things you can do is hire building envelope consultants to do an inspection. In fact, scheduling these professionals to come out to your building frequently will not only help identify and fix the issues quickly, but also prevent issues from occurring in the first place. The cost of hiring professionals is minimal when you compare it to the potential wasted money on your energy bills as a result of a leaky building.

BE Structural is comprised of a team of building envelope consultants ready to help you do a thorough inspection of your building. Energy costs are rising for various reasons, so having a secure building creates more energy efficiency and cost savings. Be sure to reach out to us to see how our professional inspections can help you save energy, time and money.