When refurbishing an older structure, you’ll want to know the general conditions of multiple building components. One component that can dictate the extent of refurbishment is the building’s floor structure and its loading capacity. Since load capacity determination varies from structure to structure, understanding this component is crucial to evaluating old structures.
The answers can be found by utilizing the expertise of an engineering and testing firm that specializes in evaluating structures. Evaluations can range from taking existing historical documents and comparing them with the as-built conditions, taking samples of building material back to a lab to perform mechanical testing to “reverse engineer” the floor structure or even performing full-scale load tests on the structure. If the load capacity results do not meet desired requirements, then the analysis and testing results can help develop construction details for rehabilitation as well as the economic feasibility for the extent of the rehabilitation. This type of assessment is beneficial for buildings in areas undergoing a “rebirth” to either repurpose or revitalize commercial and multi-use districts.
If no drawings or documentation are available and sampling materials is not an option, then an alternative approach may be researching an applicable building code from the same time period and establishing a possible minimum live load required for the original intended use of the structure. Exploratory, selective demolition can then be utilized to reveal hidden or concealed structural systems, such as steel beams or columns, which can be measured and compared with historical material properties to determine an allowable load capacity.
Whether it is identifying and addressing these structural concerns from the initial due diligence investigation or through confirmation and design recommendations, the structural engineers and technologists at Braun Intertec work seamlessly alongside our geotechnical, environmental, and construction materials testing services team. These onsite technical experts can oversee recommended solutions and provide cohesive support in meeting your project needs. For more information, please contact Jason Hanlon.