Your building might be starting to age just like humans, especially when it starts to creak and crack. Although the causes of them may differ, sometimes the poor foundation of construction might lead to a shaky structure.
However, quality degradation often occurs due to harsh weather conditions, natural disasters like earthquakes, cyclones, and soil erosion, as well as explosive events, corrosion, or abrasion. It is essential to understand what exactly the structural integrity of a building is if you are thinking of buying a property, renovating your apartment, or simply improving your living space. Additionally, it is crucial to know how to lengthen the lifespan of your building. Let us help you understand the basics.
What Is Structural Integrity
A structural element or a building consisting of multiple parts must maintain its structural integrity under a load, including its own weight, without excessively breaking or deforming.It guarantees the construction will perform its intended function during reasonable use for as long as the construction is intended to last.
Structurally sound construction keeps its residents safe and prevents catastrophic failures. Structural integrity is not just the ability of structures to function safely in normal conditions but also to fail safely.
Structures fail when their structural integrity is compromised. When a structure, component, or asset is pushed to its limit, it deforms or breaks due to too much pressure.
So, a critical part of the design process is ensuring that if it collapses, building inspectors can contain the failure to prevent the structure from collapsing immediately or entirely in the future. As a result, structural integrity management needs to be maintained and conducted on a regular basis.
Steel industrial components are used for a variety of large construction projects, such as buildings and bridges, in the form of girders, etc. Steel’s integrity is essential to the durability of the structure. Steel begins to weaken at 425°C and loses about half of its strength at 650°C when exposed to high temperatures. Steel will buckle and twist if subjected to high loads at these temperatures, affecting structural integrity.
So, engineering must consider the range of temperatures to which a structure can be exposed over the course of its lifetime.
Building Structures That Are Disaster-Resilient: New Ways
No one can prevent natural disasters, but architects, builders, and engineers can make buildings more resilient to such disasters. Among the innovative technologies are:
1. A Self-Repairing Concrete: The concrete is infused with sodium silicate capsules. Fractures cause the capsules to open, releasing a gel that hardens to fix the crack. Another method uses glass capillaries, polymer microcapsules, or bacteria to provide self-healing properties.
2. Virtual and Augmented Reality systems: To help workers or inspectors examine a building before it is finished to catch industrial issues in the construction process and when they can be repaired.
3. Prefabrication: Prefabrication refers to the process of fabricating many parts of a building off-site under controlled conditions where quality control is easier. These components are then transported and installed on-site.
4. Boom Pumps: Boom pumps are becoming increasingly popular as a very efficient and cost-effective method of mixing and moving concrete. Using this method improves the stability of a building.
5. Carbon Nanotubes: Nanotubes are a new product that can be used to increase the strength of other building elements such as concrete, metal, glass, and other materials.
6. Sisbricks: Anti-seismic bricks are specially designed to withstand earthquakes. You can add them to traditional buildings as well as partition walls.
Importance of Building Inspection: Safety By Law
Before you buy a commercial building, there are a few things you should know. Firstly, make the smart investment of having professional construction inspectors check it out.
If you’re thinking about buying a building or having one built, have the designs or the actual structure evaluated by an engineering firm. Buildings can be designed, or structural support can be added to existing buildings. This type of organization can save the building owner a lot of money and time by pointing out flaws in an existing building or in building plans. Michael Flynn is an inspiring example of an engineering company owner with more than 30 years of experience.
Look for a company that provides civil engineering, architecture, construction supervision, environmental guidance, land surveying, and fire and explosion services. Our team of experts in fire & explosion can lend you their expertise and guide you through the process.
Commercial buildings, government facilities and construction projects, transportation industry, institutional offices, industrial sites, residential construction projects, and water resource type projects are all examples of buildings and projects that require this type of engineering skills.
Building Inspection: Signs of Damage & Failure
Small problems can quickly develop into large, potentially dangerous ones that can lead to costly repairs:
House Walls Pulling Away From The Soil
The soil expands and contracts with the seasons. When soil pulls significantly away from the property (check patio, porch, and deck areas, too), it indicates that Building permit applications did not lay the home’s foundation correctly.
Gaps Between Windows And Doors
Since windows and doors have been cut into walls, they are more susceptible to pressure. Damage to walls around windows and doors will often appear before damage to any other part of your walls:
- Doors with uneven gaps
- A door or window won’t open or close smoothly
- Windows and doors won’t lock properly
- Walls and doors are separated by windows and doors
- Doors won’t stay shut
- Leaky roofs and sagging roofs
A roof that is still in its prime and at the start of its lifespan shouldn’t show any signs of sagging or unevenness. If it does, the roof structure is at fault. Various things can harm your roof structure, such as:
- Movement of timber frames
- Weather-related damage
- Insufficient maintenance
- Removing load-bearing walls
- Infestation by termites
- Timbers sized incorrectly
- Concrete/brick crumbling
If exposed to high levels of moisture and/or chemicals, concrete and/or masonry can be eroded. Concrete crumbles because a chemical reaction breaks up the materials’ bond. This type of erosion is often found below the waterproofing membrane of your home in the lower parts of the brickwork.
Structural engineers typically perform structural inspections to confirm the structural integrity of an office or home’s load-bearing components, such as the foundation, joists, beams, trusses, or columns.
This test is performed when a property owner has questions about the integrity of a building or structure. Depending on the building, an examination of one or more particular components may be needed. You may need a structural inspection in several situations to ensure that your home is solidly built.
Buying a House
To get a complete picture of the home’s condition, you might want to have a general home inspection performed when purchasing a home. An inspector who finds an issue with any of the load-bearing components will recommend a structural inspection. Additional common industrial and constructional problems include the following:
- Cracks in the foundation (horizontal, vertical, and step cracks)
- Basement columns, temporary
- A sloping floor
- A bowed wall
- Problems with settlement
Cracks In The Ceiling, Walls, or Structures
The foundation of a properly built home should not exhibit any settlement beyond a few small cracks. As such, an old house may have a sloping floor or settlement cracks in the ceiling or wall simply because structural components weren’t designed to deflect as they are today. If there are any concerns, it is better to find out the answers sooner rather than later.
Concerns About Structural Movement:
- You are moving into a brand-new home and are experiencing settlement difficulties.
- Your home is older than ten years and shows recent signs of settlement.
- You are noticing settlement after a remodel or after adding weight.
A structural engineer may be able to help you if you suspect you have storm damage. Roar Engineering will provide you with a structural integrity report if you are the victim of storm damage.
The building inspection process can also help you find and amend signs of fire damage. Our fire and explosion experts have the technical expertise and years of experience needed to thoroughly investigate complicated situations.
All investigations are conducted in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 921, “Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations,” and good engineering practice. Roar Engineering Fire & Explosion Investigation Services undertake in-depth investigations, meticulously documenting physical evidence at the scene and writing brief reports.
Problems With Drainage On a Property
Drainage issues can ruin a foundation and cause expensive interior and exterior damage, and create standing water that can cause ice accumulation. By conducting a structural inspection, you can determine where the issues originated and how to mitigate them in a way that will protect your home’s integrity.
If you notice any signs of structural damage in your home similar to those listed above, call a licensed professional to conduct an in-depth home inspection and recommend the best course of action.
Under What Conditions Can A Person Make A Claim On Insurance?
Construction inspectors can detect structural deterioration as soon as they see it. However, your insurance company may or may not consider the same to be structural damage because physical damage to a home is not always enough to declare it as such.
As a result, it’s a good idea to be aware of the permits and provisions under which you can file a claim for insurance. Before approving your claim, most insurance companies will investigate the cause of the loss.
The following are some of the circumstances that they may consider when deciding whether or not to approve it (based on the terms and conditions of the specific policy):
- Natural disasters such as lightning, hail and storm, flood, and volcanic eruptions.
Structural Engineering Home Inspectors
Many commercial structures may have been designed before structural integrity, structural mechanics, and building inspectors’ well-understood material behaviour. This means that extreme events may reveal fundamental problems with whole classes of structures.
Regardless of whether a building permit complied with design codes when it was built, there is a reasonable chance that it does not now. Structural engineers who specialize in home inspection find their niche here. They:
- Inspect apartment buildings to identify damage and deterioration.
- Ensure structures are compliant with design codes and/or are robust against catastrophic collapses.
- Aid owners, operators, and occupants of structures (and the public) by assessing the risks associated with issues identified.
- Provide repair solutions.
- Help develop a system for inspections and maintenance that ensures structural integrity is maintained.
When buying a commercial building or asking an architect or a contractor to design a new structure, the structural integrity of the building is the most important consideration. Nobody wants a building that cannot withstand normal weather and environmental conditions.
You should not take your home’s structure for granted. Consider hiring a structural engineer if you or your home inspector suspect there is a problem, whether you want a fire explosion investigation or a commercial building permit.
You will receive a written report from Roar Engineering accompanied by photos depicting the work to be completed, as well as a scope of work for the contractor to complete. We can also provide a design for commercial repairs if necessary.