Structural Engineering Considerations of Renovating a Timber Frame Building

Many buildings constructed in the nineteenth century and earlier are timber-frame structures. Builders used plentiful old-growth timber and adapted European construction methods to the new world. While the behavior of timber braced frames are fairly complex, these buildings were built without the aid of structural engineering calculations and design standards. To ensure that the building was safe and useable, the builders could not deviate too far from their prior experience. As a result, historical timber-frame buildings follow common forms and floor plans. Even as light wood-frame construction began to replace timber framing in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, vestiges of timber framing practice persisted.

While traditional timber frame structures and later light-frame wood structures have outward similarities, their structural behavior differs significantly, resulting in light-framed structures being more easily modified. What would be straightforward renovations in conventional light-frame wood construction may introduce complications requiring the involvement of a structural engineer in a timber frame structure.

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What Homeowners Should Know About Engineering Fees

Homeowners and even some residential contractors can be surprised by the cost of engineering services. Most residential projects do not require engineering, Homeowners are seldom in the position to retain an engineer. In addition, engineering fees can be confusing to the uninitiated and are especially counter-intuitive when it comes to residential projects. This unfamiliarity can lead to unrealistic expectations.

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What Everyone Should Know About Earthquakes and Structures

This post was originally published on the Richard J. Driscoll, Consulting Engineer blog and has been edited for length. The original can be found here.

Partially collapsed building. 2008 Wells, NV Earthquake (Utah Geological Survey)

Most people understand that earthquakes can produce catastrophic damage to the built environment. However, given that large earthquakes are relatively rare, and that the television news cameras typically move on a few days after any disaster, a lot of people’s understanding of the effects of earthquakes may be shaped more by bad disaster movies than reality. Continue reading “What Everyone Should Know About Earthquakes and Structures”

Should a “Designer” or “Design Professional” Design Your Home?

Even the simplest new home is too complicated to be built without plans. Significant renovations or additions may also require plans. The plans are typically prepared by whoever designs the project and are the manifestation of all of the decisions made by the project owner, the designer and other stakeholders during the design process. They are a means of communication between the owner and the contractor, subcontractors, the building official, lenders and possibly others.  Continue reading “Should a “Designer” or “Design Professional” Design Your Home?”

Will Your House Flood This Year?

After a record-breaking  2017 hurricane season and a string of strong coastal storms over the winter, flooding has been in the news a lot recently. June brings the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season.  Floods can be catastrophic, as well as deadly. Therefore, you should have some understanding of your exposure to flood risk, to protect yourself and your property, especially if you own a home or are considering building a home.

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