Does your building have visible cracks or damage to the structure? Do you hear creaks or squeaking as members move throughout the facility?
If so, these are signs that there could be underlying structural issues. But, even if you don’t see any apparent problems, it’s still wise to periodically conduct a professional structural assessment to ensure that the building is safe, functional, and legally compliant.
But what does that entail? And what are the more obvious indicators of structural damage?
What Is a Professional Structural Assessment?
During a professional structural assessment, a licensed structural engineer will evaluate the stability and structural integrity of a building or infrastructure project. Sometimes referred to as an Engineer’s Report, this can be used to analyze the foundation, framing, and various structural components and then provide recommendations for corrective treatments.
By catching small concerns early on, you can prevent costly or hazardous structural issues down the line. Additionally, conducting a structural assessment is a proactive step to protect your business from legal liability.
But what does this entail?
Ideally, the structural engineer will partner with architects and surveyors to conduct the inspection. Although the deliverables from such an assessment depend on the facility’s needs and scope of work, this process will typically involve
Reviewing the original building plans and history
Performing a thorough inspection of the entire facility
Running calculations and analysis to determine load-bearing capacity and structural stability
Identifying potential problems or deficiencies
Providing recommendations for repairs or corrective actions
In some instances, a structural engineer may also be enlisted earlier on in the facility’s design process to prepare structural drawings for permit submission.
Why Would a Business Perform A Professional Structural Assessment?
There are various reasons why you should consider performing a structural assessment. A building owner or manager may conduct this review to:
Assess the condition of the building or structure
Identify needed repairs or improvements
Ensure compliance with building codes and regulations
Assess the properties value
Add-on to the existing property
Renovate the facility
Protect employees and customers
Prepare the building for a sale
Review the facility’s health in the wake of a major disaster
No matter the situation or reasoning that precipitates a structural review, a high-quality inspector will compile a comprehensive report that provides invaluable insights and recommendations for future planning.
Signs Your Facility May Need A Professional Structural Assessment
While several signs may indicate that it’s time to perform a professional structural assessment, four, in particular, stand out:
- Signs of settlement – Over time, a building may sink or settle into the ground. This can occur because of soil composition and movement, structural weight, and the type of foundation. While some settlement can be expected, it may also indicate more deep-seated issues. If a building settles too much or unevenly, it could cause damage to the structure. Common signs of settlement include:
Visible cracks in walls or foundation
Uneven or sloping floors
Stuck doors or windows
Gaps in walls, ceilings, or floors
Leaning or tilting walls
- Water damage or leaks – Leaks at the foundation level could threaten the safety or integrity of the facility. Aside from the more obvious signs of a leak—such as standing water around the foundation and flooding—other telltale signs include:
Heaving concrete or asphalt
Cracked crumbling foundations
Strange noises and movements – Buildings aren’t static; they’re designed to subtly move and shift with the various forces. However, if the building feels like it’s notably shifting or regularly making strange sounds, that could be a sign of an underlying structural issue.
- Roofing problems – Whether your root is flat or sloped, there may be several concerning issues, that could threaten the facility’s structural health, including:
Damaged roofing materials
Leaking in roof valleys
Improperly sealed pipes and drains
Ice dams (in cold climates)
Professional Structural Assessments with MFS Engineering
Maintaining a healthy and safe work environment is crucial for any commercial building. To accomplish that, you must perform frequent maintenance and inspections.
By keeping an eye out for the signs and regularly performing this due diligence, you can ensure that your building is functioning as it was intended when it was first designed and built. Neglecting these essential reviews can compromise the safety and functionality of your building.
But who can you trust to perform this vital task?
The professionals at MFS Engineers and Surveyors can assist. Our team partners with you to understand your needs, set a scope, and perform a rigorous structural assessment.
To learn more about our services, contact our team today for a consultation.