Forensic Engineers and Consultants

Archive: Construction Defects

Water Damage from Leaking Shower Stalls

Have you ever had to have a leaking shower pan for a tiled shower stall replaced, only to have a recurrence a few years later? If so, it is likely that it was not properly built and/or repaired. In most installations, the shower stall is constructed with an underlying one-piece flexible membrane of PVC that is attached to the wall studs before the backer board and wall tile is installed. No nails or screws should penetrate the membrane below the level of the curb of the shower stall. The only opening in the membrane below the curb must be the hole for the shower drain to connect to the house plumbing. The shower drain is designed to allow water on top of the membrane to flow into the drain via weep holes for that purpose. Read More

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Roof drain with membrane installed in opening.

Water Intrusion/Moisture Issues – Finding the Source and Location

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What you see is not always what you get.  This commonality exists in the numerous cases I have investigated for water intrusion and moisture issues in buildings.  The source that appears most obvious and straightforward may not, in fact, be the root of the problem at all. Read More

Foundation issues

Identifying Foundation Issues for Adjusters

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As a structural engineer, I am often called upon to determine the cause of commercial and residential building problems. Common problems I investigate include doors or windows that don’t open properly, cracks in interior and exterior walls, gaps in the trim, leaking roofs when the exterior covering is otherwise in good condition, sloped and out-of-level floors and leaning walls. Many of these problems are a direct result of foundation cracks, settlements and/or failures. Read More

Building Envelope Components

What is a Building Envelope?

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By definition, the building envelope (or building enclosure) is the physical separation between the interior conditioned areas and the exterior environment space of a building. The envelope serves as the outer covering (shell or skin) to help maintain the indoor environment together with the mechanical conditioning systems and to facilitate its climate control. The building envelope must be carefully designed with regard to site specific climate, ventilation, and energy consumption within the structure. The design is a specialized area of architectural and engineering practice that draws from all areas of building science and indoor climate control. Read More

steel-decking

Metal Decking Provides for Building Stability and Worker Safety

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It’s simple, right?!  Buildings being constructed must maintain a structural stability at all times during the steel erection process. That’s according to OSHA Federal Register Subpart R 1926. OSHA also reminds us that “Since structural collapse is second only to falls as a cause of fatalities in the construction industry, stability is essential to the successful erection of any steel structure, including single- story, multi-story, bridges, etc.” Let’s further examine what goes into the erection and installation practice for roof or floor metal decking as a safe working platform. Read More

An overhead view of a building that lost its roof due to the weight of several inches of snow.

Snow/Ice Accumulation Leads to a Roof Collapse

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During the next several months when temperatures start to fall below the freezing point and winter storms packing cold temperatures, heavy snowfall and ice build-ups bear down on various regions of the country, they can and do bring an assortment of unfavorable conditions that could and will affect your insured’s buildings, businesses, and personnel. Some of these regions have already experienced record-breaking snowfalls and bitter cold temperatures, which in turn have increased the danger of roof or partial roof collapses. Roofs that are properly designed and constructed to applicable codes and standards should be built to withstand loading from snow, drifting snow, water-laden snow and ice build-ups. But are they? Building codes and standards that depict the proper roof loads will vary across the U.S.  They will generally be based on local historical data, including the expected frequency and intensity of these winter storms in a particular region as shown and discussed in ASCE 7-10. Read More

A map showing a Public Street Right-of Way.

Stormwater Management Systems – Flood Control Structures

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An integral part of a stormwater management system is the design.  The design controls the quantity, quality, timing and distribution of storm runoff.  The storm drainage system is a network of access structures, ditches, channels and underground pipes that work together to direct and carry stormwater (rain and snow water) to ponds, lakes, streams and rivers and may consist of both public and private land and systems.  In order to keep these stormwater systems working properly as designed, the systems must be maintained on a routine schedule and on a continual basis.  The maintenance of these systems involves rigorous cleaning and removing of vegetation and debris. The systems include but are not limited to culverts and pipe outfalls, catch basin gratings and manholes, retention and detention water runoff control basins, channels and roadside ditches, and underground piping. Read More

Don't let your building become a disaster?

Major Causes of Wood Truss Failures

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It’s a fact! Many roof structures fail during the construction process while others have taken years for an incident to occur. Buildings with proper design and construction of bracing systems are essential in reducing and/or eliminating wooden roof truss failures.
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