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Re: EVAL: Evaluation of existing structure

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When I write a building evaluation report, my first paragraph always goes like

"Per your request, I have performed a field observation of the subject
building on February 20, 1997. The purpose of this observation is to determine
the condition of the building (or to determine the extent of structural damage
to the building.) Included in this report are the results of my observation on
the condition of the visible and accesible structural elements of the
building. "

End the first paragraph here if you only want to report on the condition of
the structural elements of the building without expressing your professional
opinion on whether the existing building in its present condition appears safe
or unsafe, structurally adequate or not, was built according to current
building code at the time of construction, or whatever comment you want to
say. Make sure that this is what your clients wants and nothing more.

For me to sign my name as a Structural Engineer on a report, it has to have a
structural view which reflects my expertise and experience. Even if it is only
a pure observation without an opinion.

Assuming your client does not require an "in-depth review", at least give him
your structural view such as:

"A major portion of the wall and roof framing appears to have been damage by
water and termites. A more detailed investigation by experts is recommended to
determine the extent of structural damage. There are no apparent visible
structural damages to the walls, floor, roof, foundation, etc. " (If there are
visible structural damages such as cracks on walls, ceilings or floors, walls
not plumb, ceiling or floor not level, etc., just describe it as it "appears",
reccomend further investigation, and don't comment on its structural integrity
until a more detailed structural evaluation is done.)

I also use the phrase " this observation are based on the visible and
accessible areas only....." I also add a disclaimer that "this report does not
guarantee that the building is structurally safe and sound.....that this
observation was performed according to the "standard of care of the industry"
.... and observations and opinions are based on the experience and expertise
of the structural observer.

Regarding your note about "the overall building structure is not required to
be evaluated and revised to conform to current code.....", I would not say
this since it may be misinterpreted to mean that "I" (you as the structural
engineer) do not require it. And if the building is damaged later, you may be
blamed for it. In fact, since there are water and termite damages and part of
the building may have to be structurally repaired, then, a full or partial
compliance with current code may be required. Just say in the first paragraph
that "an in-depth review is not part of this report or that the client does
not require an in-depth review at this time...."

Ernie Natividad