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Re: Existing Buildings

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If something goes wrong in the building after I have certified that it is okay, I'll find myself in court - and not getting paid for it.

I do a lot of residential->commercial reviews, and some commercial capacity upgrade reviews. We apply the current code loads and most of the code provisions. Where detailing conventions have changed, we do a (fairly) rigorous analysis that shows on paper that the connections are sound, or we beef them up. I have bent the rules on occasion where, in my professional opinion, the condition was not critical to the safety of the building. An example would be a wood floor, finished top and bottom (upper floor) that had an fb/Fb of about 0.6, but a maximum live deflection of L/345. I'm comfortable with that. Occasionally I may also give a pass to local roof structures which are original, have been in service for more than 75 years, and the members are in good condition, but which don't meet the letter of code - even for capacity checks. Of course, I happen to know that there was a 100+ year snow event 50 years ago, and anything that's original and still in good condition has been proof loaded to my comfort level.

So, in answer to your question, yes - I will use engineering judgment in place of strict code adherence in some cases, but for the most part I try to conform to the current code release.


... Does anyone here have experience in checking the capacity of existing designs in this manner, with total disregard to the building codes? Is this typical practice when substantial verifications of the existing construction can be accomplished? Will Haynes, P.E

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