Buildings endure a lot stress over their lifespan. From climactic activities to natural disasters, there are a number of things that could affect a building’s structure.
You can drive through nearly any town and see certain areas that are in disrepair. You can easily find buildings crumbling, falling apart and neglected. Why? Perhaps it is because the owner of the building couldn’t afford to maintain the structure, and deserted the building. No matter the reason, it’s important to stop the building’s decline before it starts. This is why it’s critical to thoroughly complete a structural assessment of your building(s) to ensure that they maintain a strong structural integrity that will hold up for decades.
Why is Structural Assessment Necessary?
As times and knowledge increase, codes are modified to make structures more suitable and safe. These enforcement codes and regulations may seem like a hassle, but the reality is they exist for safety purposes. Ever heard the saying, “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do”? Codes and standards exist to keep people safe from structural failures.
How Do You Assess a Structure?
There are a number of ways to complete a structural assessment on any type of property, including existing properties. These assessment tools can be used on existing infrastructures, as well as new construction and construction projects that are under development. There are a number of software options that are designed to assess a structure. Plus, trained and knowledgeable structural engineers are available around the country to assist in completing a building’s assessment.
Here are some basic steps that can be taken in structural assessment processes.
1. Initial Inspection Process
Start with an onsite visual inspection of the premises. This should be completed by a structural engineering firm. This step is primarily for gathering data. The engineer can see for themselves the visual state of the structure. Part of this process may include taking photographs and assessing immediate concerns. Lab testing can be completed on materials throughout the site to run an analysis on the strength and durability of materials. From here, a plan can be developed as to how intensely the building should be assessed, and just how deeply they might need to dig to truly know whether the building structure is sound.
2. Evaluate, Investigate, & Plan
In the initial assessment, the engineer is just giving a quick glance as to the basics of the structural assessment. In this step, they take their inspection one step further and evaluate the construction. They examine the structure deeply regarding what materials are used, and how strong or durable they are. The engineer will consider how those materials have been impacted over time and how long the materials could continue to uphold. They might investigate for signals like concrete honeycombs, cold joints, cracks in slabs, exposed reinforcements, misalignment, etc. This is where a plan begins to develop to ensure the structure of your building lasts.
3. Test, Test, Test
Testing is about more than just testing materials and products from construction. This is where various software options can start being used in the structural assessment. Consider what elements your structure location could be subjected to. Are you in an area that has an increased risk of tornadoes? What about a high earthquake rate? Maybe you’re located in an area that is often in the path of excessive heat or damaging winds. All of these things must be considered for the structural durability of your site. Testing can help determine how your structure would prevail against any number of various scenarios.
4. Take Action
When your structural engineer completes their assessment, they will most likely have recommendations for your structure. Now is the time to make a long-term plan to begin taking action to ensure your building is structurally sound for the long haul. There may be minor things you can take care of immediately, or there may be more expensive things that you should start planning for. Whatever you do, don’t just file the structural assessment away and never pull it out again. Start taking action! It’s up to you to ensure your building structure has the integrity it needs to survive.
Even the most beautiful and historic buildings are subject to structural dilapidation, this is what causes many old buildings and structures to become historic ruins. This doesn’t happen because the structures weren’t designed properly, it happened because at some point the structure began to fail and no one assessed the structure to fix the damage. Don’t let your structure fail. It’s critical to assess the structural integrity and be proactive about your building structure – whether it’s new, historical, or just starting to age. Act now with a thorough building assessment, and enjoy the peace of mind that your structure will be able to stand the test of time.
Learn more about how cold-formed steel can be applied in your upcoming projects, by contacting our team today.