If you're new to the world of construction, or may be undertaking a fairly large expansion project at home, you may have been told by your local council that you need to engage a structural engineer in order to oversee some of the work. You may already be confused by the number of individuals needed to make this project come to life as it is, so what do you need to know about the world of the structural engineering? What are they going to do to help your dream become a reality?
What's on the Line?
The government has a duty of care to protect the occupants of and visitors to any particular building from injury caused by poor workmanship. This is why certain standards have been laid down across the industry and in your particular community to ensure that buildings are only built in a certain way. The structural engineer is part of a team of experts that help to inspect and ultimately sanction these buildings.
In particular, the structural engineer wants to know if the building will stand up to certain loadings without failure. He or she will have a look at all the walls, joists, columns and supporting beams to see if they are designed and installed correctly to resist different pressures and loading. A key part of this determination will be the materials used to construct these particular facets of the building, such as reinforced concrete, timber or brickwork.
The engineer knows that buildings will always move and conform to a certain extent. This is because the land beneath them is never completely rigid, even though the tolerances may be very small. Over the years, the industry has set out what levels of movement are acceptable and what are not, and these limits are used by the engineer to sanction any work.
Checking Your Aspirations
You may want to add a large extension to your kitchen and hospitality area as you think it would look nice and add to the value. The structural engineer, however, will want to satisfy the authorities that the existing building can support and accept this work before you begin. In order to figure this out in advance, virtual calculations are run to add the appropriate loads to existing building components. These will simulate conditions during severe weather events or more simple situations such as the addition of any furnishings or occupant loads.
Developing and Sanctioning the Plan
When the surveyor has done the preliminary work, the information will be shared with architects or project managers so that the final drawings can be developed with authority and sent in to the local government for approval. A subsequent inspection will be tabled after construction is finished to ensure that the work has been done in accordance with all of this documentation.