Engineering? What is Required?

Engineering is not always a hot question during preliminary design meetings! However, Engineering is the elephant in the room, a unknown, a hidden cost! The simple truth is, engineering usually is not a big deal, providing you plan ahead for it…

Depending upon your choice of design style, location of your project and your budget; engineering can vary greatly in cost. When a structural engineer gets involved, I am seeing a cost variance between $400.00 and $2,500.00. The cost being dependent upon the following issues…

Structural Engineering for Strong Foundations

One of the most common engineering needs is when a foundation wall becomes a retaining wall. Foundation walls over four feet in height which retain backfill typically will require a structural engineer. Tall foundation walls are common on hillside lots and basements.

Engineering for Wind and Seismic

Wind and seismic are become a big deal here in The NW! When wind load pushes on the side of a structure (in this case a home) it is known as loading, And when the load becomes too much, the structure fails and falls down.

To prevent the structure from failure, structural wall panels are placed throughout the home design; both inside and outside. Home designs from some states do not comply with our local structural codes and standards!

Much of the time, simpler structural calculations are performed in-house without the need to involve an engineer. But, home designs with little in the way of structural wall panels (lots of windows few wall panels) still require engineering.

Engineering
Notice the minimal wall panels around the windows. This is a good indicator of a lack of wall panel for wind and seismic shear.

Structural wall panels are the solid wall surfaces on the outside corners and in between window sections. Structural panels transfer the stress (loading) on the home caused by wind or seismic directly to the ground.

Stock Plans…

When purchasing stock plans look for walls full of windows with no solid panels. Windows without incorporating structural panels in the design process will keep you from getting your plans approved.

Stamped Structural Calculations

Stamped structural calculations include details as to how the structure will comply with code for both wind and seismic. In many cases, structural analysis done in house without requiring an engineer. Prescriptive bracing provides an inexpensive path to required bracing for both seismic and wind loading without the need to involve a structural engineer.

Prescriptive Bracing

During the initial design meeting, if at all possible, I will advise if your situation will require additional engineering. The key point is to ask the question, “What, if any engineering will be needed?

Now that we have recognized the elephant in the room, and allayed one/some of your fears, what is holding you back? Call today and schedule a meeting to get your home plan moving forward!

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