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Re: EVAL: Evaluation of existing structure

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I too have done "inspections" of historic structures and understand
you questions.  My own conclusion is that I've come not to believe in
the "Good old days" and that thing that might of gotten by for a long
time aren't guaranteed of getting by in the future.

It is my opinion that people who don't know much hire us who do know
something for an opinion.  We should give it to them even if its not
what they really want to hear.  You can put in a practical
"performance context" if that seems warrented but the owners should
hear what you have to say.  You might even recommend a second opinion.

Michael Donoghue, PE

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard Lewis <rlewis(--nospam--at)>
To: seaoc(--nospam--at) <seaoc(--nospam--at)>
Date: 20 February, 1998 6:13 PM
Subject: EVAL: Evaluation of existing structure

>I am doing a structural review of a historic building in Texas for a
post high
>school institute.  The building was constructed in 1871 for a school
and has
>always been used as an educational facility.  In 1972 the building
was closed
>and not used until about 2 to 3 years ago.  The owner has started to
>it.  Severe damage has occurred to the structure from water
penetration and
>termites.  Quite a bit of damage was readily visible.
>The question I want to pose is the extent of review of the structure
I am
>responsible to do.  Since I will be issuing a formal report and
sealing it I
>am responsible to perform the "standard of care" of the industry.
This is
>where you all come in.  I want your opinion on whether I am following
>standard of care most any other engineer would follow.
>My report documents the damage I was able to observe from water and
> Since there is so much damage by termites (the climbed over 50 feet
>the ground)  I am recommending the owner hire an expert to evaluate
>extent of termite damage to the building.  I do not have that much
>in termite damage and since termite damage is deceptive I am
>they hire an expert familiar with termite damage.
>My specific question is "How detailed of a review am I responsible to
>regarding the existing structure.  This is my opinion.  Since the
>Type has not changed since the original design, and since the
building has
>performed satisfactorily for 125 years under that occupancy, and
since the
>major part of the renovation will be architectural, there is not a
>requirement, per the Building Code, for an in-depth review.  And by
>in-depth review I mean to go out and measure all the floor beams,
>rafter, columns, decking, etc. and calculate whether they are
sufficient to
>support current building code loading.  I know if I were to do this
it would
>not meet current code, there would be connection problems because
they most
>likely would have notched the ends of beams, and other nightmares
like that.
>I know a lot of this has to do with the Scope of Work outlined with
>Owner, but in my kind of work we do not always have a well defined
Scope of
>Work.  I would need to share much more about my kind of work in order
for you
>to understand.
>Anyway, here is my propose solution.  I am going to exclude a
detailed formal
>review of all structural components in my evaluation report.  Here is
>paragraph I propose to include:
>Occupancy Assumption
> <Building Name> was designed as, and has been used as an educational
>facility since it was constructed.  <School Name> plan for using the
>is to maintain an educational use occupancy.  The occupancy type has
>changed, therefore the overall building structure is not required to
>evaluated and revised to conform to current building codes, unless a
>jurisdiction requires such review.  This structural evaluation report
>on the areas that were readily accessible and visible at the time of
>field observation.  An in-depth review of all the building structure
is not
>required, and was not performed.
>Names of the building and school have been changed to protect the
identity of
>the innocent!  :o)
>I would greatly appreciate any insight you all can give me regarding
>"Standard of Care" for the engineering industry
>Richard Lewis, P.E.
>Missionary TECH Team
>The service mission like-minded Christian organizations
>may turn to for technical assistance and know-how.