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Re: structures & ethics

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I doubt the owner wants to upgrade the whole building (at least those commercial owners I have dealt with in the past). It is not his residence, so he would like to get by with spending the least amount of money yet satisfying the law (local building code). He just wants a building permit! You certainly should let the owner know of your findings and recommend the necessary repairs, but it is the building official who can "order" the owner to do the repairs that you suggest. Building official has the legal authority (=less liability to you), and can send a building inspector to inpsect the site who can red tag the building if it is too dangerous in his opinion. The building official might want to know from you whether the building met the building code existent at the time of constuction (UBC Chapter 34), or if the condition worsened due to ponding, rotting, etc.

Suresh Acharya, S.E.
Richmond, CA



S. Gordin wrote:
Good morning.
 
I was asked to provide repair plans and specifications for an existing roof damaged by a vehicle (sic).  The problem now became not only structural, but ethical, too.
 
THE LAYOUT
 
The building is apparently a former post office (1970s?), with 5 1/8"x 24-3/8"glulam beams @26' o.c. cantilevering 16' off brick wall along one side.   Further into the building, the glulams also bear on wood columns, and then cantilever and support other glulams spanning toward the opposite brick wall.
 
Sawn purlins span about 26' between the glulams at 8-to-9 feet on-center, supporting 2x4 @24", some insulation, lots of electrical conduits and ducts, plywood diaphragm, and the composition roofing.
 
The "fascia" (still 6x12, nominal/typical) purlin of the overhang was apparently hit and broken by the u-turning big rig, with subsequent damage (delamination with lateral offset) to one of the cantilevering glulams.  
 
THE PROBLEM
 
I ran the analysis based upon the current codes as well as upon the 1960s and 1970s codes (UBC).  The analysis shows that the undamaged subpurlins, purlins, glulams, and columns are inadequate against DL+LL (70-to-100% overstressed), and even against DL only (with 0.9 factor, overstressed 15%). 
 
For the sawn lumber, I tried even select structural (dense select structural) - did not help...
 
Some of the purlins are visibly sagging.  The glulams look OK.
 
I can just replace the damaged purlin (these are the only ones that are adequate
due to 50% tributary area) and to repair only the damaged glulam to the "preexisting condition" (I can do it with lag screws etc.).  After all, the building may be OK solely by the fact of it existing like that for about 30 years, right?
 
THE QUESTIONS
 
If I am right in my assumptions - how that could happen (don't answer that)?
 
If I am wrong in my assumptions - what am I missing?
 
What should I do within the limitations of common sense, structural analysis, and professional ethics? 
  
Thank you.
 
V. Steve Gordin, PhD
Registered Structural Engineer
Irvine CA
 
 
 
 
 

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