Construction Permit

Client contacted SQ consultants to evaluate a deck where a permit was obtained,  however extra supports were placed under the deck without permit.  Even though the extra supports provided more support to the deck, but since the work was done without permit county rejected the deck.  Our calculations indicated that the deck was safe and the county approved the deck.

No work should be done without a permit.

Remodeling Additions

Most people want to put additions to their house.   These additions may be in the shape of a second story over an existing floor or they may be an addition at the back or front with some load acting on the existing house.

The existing footings of the house are designed for the loads already imposed on them.   Thus the existing footings have to be checked for additional loads.

It is important that the existing footings be checked before drawings are submitted to the county.  All the counties are particular about the new loads.  The plans will be rejected and precious time wasted if required checking is not done on the existing footings.

 

Wind Bracing

Clients when they come to SQ Consultants to get a drawing prepared for their addition.   Invariably they want windows on all sides.  When they are told that they cannot have so many windows because of windbracing issues they are not aware of windbracing.  Their standard answer is the existing house has as many windows why cannot the new addition have the same windows. The cost associated with trying to match up with the existing windows may be such that the project may not be viable.

Windbracing is a big part of any drawing which is prepared for residential construction.

It is important to understand the limitations imposed by the IRC on windows in new construction.

 

Decks

Most people want decks in their houses.   The decks may be existing and they want modifications to them or they want to enclose the decks.

First county records should be checked to see whether permits were taken out for the decks.  After the records have been checked and it is verified that permit was taken out on the deck then the remodeling of the deck should be considered.   If the remodeling consists of putting a screen around the deck then it may be feasible.  However as it is most often the case remodeling consists of converting the deck to a sun room with glass or drywall on all sides then various factors have to be considered foremost amongst them is windbracing.

Because windbracing requires special connections between posts and beams and posts and footings an engineer should be consulted to check the feasibility of the project.

Client Anxiety

Working as a structural engineer for over 26 years one thing is common among all the clients.  When we are first called the client talks about cracks in walls or sloping floors or whatever they have called us for.  One thing they try not to tell us is the fear they have of the whole house collapsing.

After listening to their problems and explaining why certain structural problems are happening and the ball park of the costs associated with the repairs.  The client suddenly looks relieved and exclaims “so you mean to say the house is not going to sink or collapse”.  It’s important when a structural problem happens to call a structural engineer rather than worrying about the collapse of the house.

 

Wall Removal

SQ Consultants were asked by client to check the sinking of floor where a wall had been replaced with a beam which was not designed by an engineer.  Our investigation revealed that the wall was load bearing and the beam the contractor replaced it with was not properly designed.  We then calculated the size of the beam which was much bigger than the existing beam.  Luckily the error was caught in time.

 

Sinking Floor

SQ Consultants were asked by a client to check  the cause of a floor sinking.  Our investigation revealed  that someone had removed the beam carrying the floors above.  In the absence of a beam carrying the floor  the floor had sunk.

Fire Damaged Church

SQ Consultants were asked to check a church damaged by fire.  Our investigation revealed that the damage was limited to the roof only.  The client then asked us to check the existing foundation to see whether it could sustain the load of second story.  Test pits were dug next to the existing foundation and their size and bearing capacity of the soil checked.  Our calculations based on the site investigation showed that the existing footing can take the load of the second story.

Removal of a load bearing wall

SQ Consultants were asked by a client to check whether a load bearing wall could be revealed.  Our investigation revealed that the wall was load bearing and yes it could be removed.  However in place of the wall a beam had to be designed and the loads from the beam transferred to the foundation.  So not only was the new beam designed but the existing steel beam on which the posts from the new beam were resting had to be checked.

 

Bad Soil

Client contacted SQ consultants to check the soil for an addition next to existing house.  Our investigation revealed that the soil was so weak that the client would have to go at least 10 feet below grade to reach adequate soil with good bearing.  If the client had done soil investigation before the start of the job it would have saved him unnecessary delay and cost of labor.