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Re: EVAL: Evaluation of existing structure

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I believe that just stating that a more complete evaluation is not
required falls a bit short.  I would include a statement to the effect,
that while a complete strutural analysis is beyond the scope of this
report, blah, blah, blah... This should include stuff that your
expertise tells you is a probable problem with compliance to todays
codes and engineering practices.  If beam or joist notching was
observed, state so and state whether or not any visual signs of problems
exist at these areas.  Point out that as a result of poor performance of
notched beams and joists in the past, the standards of design have
changed.  This would include post to beam connections, foundation
attachments, lateral bracing and the such.  A big area is trusses.  I
try to cover the areas that I suspect would not comply and address
whether or not signs of problems exist in these areas.  This shows that
you are aware of the potential problem areas, and also addresses their

As most reports that I do, are a fixed fee going into the project, there
is no way I can include an analysis for all the potential problems. 
Therefore I use the statement that a "structural analysis should be
performed by a licensed Civil or Structural Engineer familar with ___
(fill in the blank with the area of concern such as heavy timber
construction)  In addition many times, if a potential probem area can
not be observed, and you cannont obtain approval to remove finishes to
properly observe, I state that such and such area could not be observed
without the removal of _____ which is beyond the scope of this report,
but potential problems in the area would include..... This usually gets
the area opened up... In fact, whenever I'm going into a large project,
that I anticipate access problems, I either plan two trips or ask that a
contractor can be there to open areas I need to see.  There have been
times when I take tools from my garage of open up floors and walls to
see whats going on.

I have found that many times, after you deliver a report which points
out additional problems that may exist and are beyond the initial scope,
a concerned client will then follow up and ask about having the complete
analysis done and the building retrofitted.  This is especially true
with lateral bracing systems here in CA.  At this time, you've gotten a
handle on the potential problems from an analysis point of view, and can
properly base your fee.  I also stress that in my initial observation
and report, solutions presented will only be "shoot from the hip"
solutions that can be outlined in the report.  Any calculations or
drawings required are beyond the scope.  These solutions, obviously have
to be ones that you are very comfortable with and are usually based on
judgement rather than analysis.
Steve Privett  CE