The issue of structural integrity and structural assessments has become a buzzworthy topic. Building owners and operators desire the assurance that the structure they are managing is safe for those who use it – and tenants desire that reassurance as well. However, many readers may not fully understand what a structural assessment entails and why they are so important. Let’s delve deeper into those questions, and explore the details that may be helpful if you are looking to conduct a structural assessment in the near future.

What situations require structural assessments?

In order to maintain a healthy and safe environment, a building requires regular inspection and maintenance to ensure that all components operate properly. Otherwise, small issues that are left unattended, could become dangerous or costly to repair.

While they are generally part of a well-executed maintenance plan, there are a variety of situations that may require a structural assessment, including:

  • When a building has been bought or sold
  • After a heavy storm, earthquake or other natural disaster
  • when new equipment will be installed
  • When determining structural capacity and feasibility for planned renovations or an addition to the building
  • When there is a change in building use or occupancy
  • When changes that could indicate a structural issue are discovered
  • When accidents involving the structure occur, such as vehicle crashes or impacts from other objects
  •  When changes to the site that induce or change structural loading occur
  • When new wall, floor or roof openings are added to the structure.

How do I know if I need a structural assessment?

The best way to make this determination is to contact a reputable professional engineering firm like Top Level Engineering. Our highly-trained professionals have direct experience performing this type of work. While some individuals claim that they know about structural assessments because they “have an engineering background” or “work in construction every day,” they may not be qualified to help you.

Important qualities to seek in a professional engineer include:

  • Holding an active Professional Engineering (PE) license in jurisdiction where the work is to be performed. This can be verified at the state’s professional licensing board website.
  • Ability to provide proof of insurance, including professional and general liability insurance.

Who hires a structural engineer to perform a structural assessment?

Typically, owners, property managers, developers, architects, mechanical engineers and civil engineers. Still, anyone can reach out to an engineer if he/she is concerned there may be an issue.

What can I expect to receive from a structural assessment?

According to TLE’s principal, Kirby Hartle, deliverables from a structural assessment can vary and depend upon your needs and scope of work. If a permit is needed for your project, your engineering firm can prepare structural drawings for permit submission. Other times, a structural sketch, letter or report is sufficient. The depth of the report is truly dependent upon the scope of the project.

If you have a current or upcoming project that may require a structural assessment, we encourage you to contact Top Level Engineering for a free consultation. Our team of professional engineers are licensed to work in Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina and are fully insured. Throughout our many years in the construction business, our PE’s have performed many structural assessments, and would welcome the chance to consult with you. Contact us today at 703-738-9913.                                               

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