What to Know About a Structural Inspection

Structural inspections are a normal part of any commercial building project in South Florida. There is value in these inspections as it helps ensure that the buildings, renovations, and/or additions are structurally sound and will be safe for the tenants. After the recent Surfside condo collapse, structural inspections are more important than ever. In this post, we’ll cover when to get a structural inspection, why you need a structural inspection, and what to do with the results. Let’s get started!

When Do I Need a Structural Inspection?

One of the most commonly asked questions before, during, and after a construction project is when to get a structural inspection. The most common structures that need structural inspections are multi-story commercial buildings. A structural inspection is something that should be ordered if there are any potential signs of concrete damage. This includes cracks in walls or ceilings, as well as spalling. Spalling refers to where the concrete has broken away, and the steel bars within have begun to rust. This is relatively common problem in South Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Keys, because saltwater can penetrate the porous concrete and cause it break down over time.

For buildings that have been around for 40 years, they require a mandatory structural inspection, known as the 40 year recertification. Additionally, every 10 years after the 40 anniversary date, a new structural inspection is required.

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What is a Structural Inspection?

A structural inspection is a very detailed report that evaluates the structural integrity of a property, most often a multi-level commercial building. These inspection reports are in-depth and can be up to 20 pages with detailed information. A structural inspection identifies any defects and recommends repairs that should be made. There are two types of structural inspections: a general structural inspection and a specific structural inspection. A general structural inspection evaluates the building without any specific pre-existing areas of concern. A specific structural inspection focuses on an existing structural concern or visible damage. Regardless of which type of structural inspection is needed, we highly recommend using a South Florida General Contractor who will use only the best structural engineers to conduct the inspection.

What is a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers specialize in analyzing, designing, planning, and researching structural components to ensure safety and achieve design goals. Structural engineers are experts at identifying and providing solutions to structural problems and defects. In order to be a licensed and registered engineer you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering and at least four years of experience under the tutelage of a licensed and registered professional engineer. They specialize in structural systems, often made of concrete, and are experts in ensuring that a building can bear the load it is intended to support per the structure’s design.

What to Expect From a Structural Inspection?

During a structural inspection, the engineer will analyze a number of crucial areas of a property such as the roof, framing, attic & crawl spaces, the building’s foundation, interior and exterior walls, and the brickwork and masonry. When a building is constructed, it is intended to be able to handle the weight of anticipated loads. However, as mentioned above, environmental conditions, such as hurricanes and saltwater,  as well as maintenance (or rather lack thereof) of the property could compromise the building’s structure. These are all factors that the engineer takes into consideration when inspecting a property. The ultimate goal is to make sure that the property will safely perform its structural duties and avoid a potential disaster.

What to do with the Results?

The results of a structural inspection can reveal a whole host of options. If the results come back positive, then there is almost nothing that needs to be done; simply invest in routine maintenance and upkeep and your building will continue to remain structurally sound for years to come.

However, if the report reveals defects or structural abnormalities, you will have some work to do. The good news is that a structural inspection report also provides recommended solutions with the action plan clearly laid out. Structural engineers are problem solvers so their goal is not only to point out the problems but also to provide details on how to correct them. Once you get a feel for what needs fixing, it is then time to hire a general contractor in Miami to get started on the repairs.

Taylor Builders: South Florida General Contractors

The best general contractor in South Florida is Taylor Builders. We have decades of combined experience in building commercial structures and residential properties from the ground up. We also have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to analyze structural inspection reports and make the necessary improvements and repairs.