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RE: Pre-Engineered Metal Building Foundation - Ballpark Design

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Title: RE: Pre-Engineered Metal Building Foundation - Ballpark Design

I see that quite a bit.  Although, I typically input the building into a
software program and get reactions myself, then go ahead with the design anyway.
More often than not, when I finally get the reactions, what I have assumed is
conservative.  Most contractors work with only one metal building manufacturer,
and anchor bolt configurations can be guessed at using their manufacturing company's
literature.  I can get a fairly good estimate of base plate and needed pier size
based on the reactions I determined.  I run into problems when the building comes
from the building manufacturer with bracing or some other configuration changes.

The owner/developer/contractor issues are typical also.  They think that
the structural design is "cookbook" as you said, unless they have been
educated on previous projects.  I recently had an owner come to me and tell
me he just became a rep for some metal building manufacturer but he had know idea
what was involved in getting foundation designs or building permits.  Everybody
thinks it is quite a bit easier than it actually is.

Zachary Goswick, P.E.
Structural Engineer
Angus-Young Associates, Inc.
555 South River Street
Janesville, WI  53545-4827
Phone: (608)756-2326
Fax: (608)756-0464
Email: zachg(--nospam--at)

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, July 09, 2002 12:14 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Pre-Engineered Metal Building Foundation - Ballpark Design


I'm running into these kinds of jobs from time to time where a developer or
owner wants to proceed with a building which is all or part a metal
building, and needs as much engineering done as possible to get the building
permit, expedite the schedule, and sometimes even for financing.

So, we have an architect's plan, and it has been sent to the metal building
vendor(s) for a quote. We have a geotechnical report. And it's enough for me
to get about 80% done with the foundation, but what I'm finding is the metal
building guy doesn't want to bother with any sort of preliminary design,
understandably, because he doesn't even know if he's getting the contract.
So of course I have no reactions, no base plate dimensions, etc.

I have to explain to the contractor/owner/developer/whatever that I can get
"almost there" but not all the way, and they are puzzled because, of course,
they think all this stuff is just cook-book and only needed because they
can't get a permit without a sealed drawing. Most of the time they're
patient (with the subtext "man, these engineers are a hard bunch to deal
with"), although a few times they've been downright hostile ("I've never had
this problem before. Are you SURE you know what you're doing?")

Anyway, I wonder if anyone else sees this from time to time, and how you
deal with it?

William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
Katy, TX, USA
Phone (281) 492-2251
FAX (281) 492-8203
email bill(--nospam--at)

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