Houses, Cottages & Small Buildings
Where do I start? I don’t have drawings for my home or cottage.
Contact us, we’ll do a set of ‘as-built’ drawings for you by hand if you want or formalize it on CADD so you can communicate what you have to your Contractor.
Residential engineering services
- Plans review for BCIN Designers, Architects and knowledgeable persons
- Site review and investigation
- Structural review of the existing building including foundations and framing
- Assessment and review of existing structure with current Building Code
You are a designer but not insured?
We provide complete building permit plan services for small projects which do not require the services of an Architect including Site Plan if required.
For Existing Homes
If you are planning on moving a house to a new location, an engineer should assess the building first. Beware of cracked foundation walls, cracked floor slabs, cracked exterior masonry, sagging floors, uneven stairs, etc. Contact us for an assessment.
If you have a home which has been previously renovated, or, if you are buying a home which has undergone a major renovation, you should make sure that the work was carried out under a building permit and that the permit was "closed" following construction. If you bought title insurance when you purchased your home, you may be protected if work was previously carried out without a permit or without the permit having been "closed". If there are structural defects, contact us.
For New Homes
Pre-Design and Pre-construction investigation
Before the shovel goes into the ground, its prudent to do a pre-construction, pre-design geotechnical investigation to identify any restrictions such as high water table or unstable soils. Consider having us do a soils investigation before you close on the property. This applies even more so if you are considering a pre-fabricated home that requires you to supply the foundation first.
If your site rocky at the surface, it may require blasting. It might be prudent to identify the rock structure and make sure there are no restrictions to the project. This is a good time to contact us. We use Bienawski’s Rock Mass Rating to assess the stability of a rock mass and relate the information to the blasting and excavation contractors.
In rural areas, generally you will need a septic permit prior to getting a Building permit. Often the first ground information comes from the septic system Contractor. This is a good time to contact us if the results are not favourable.
If poor soil conditions were encountered during excavation for foundations, the building inspector needs an engineer to certify that the soil bearing capacity is sufficient to carry the weight of the building. We’ve seen many conditions and can help remedy the situation. Contact us for a site visit.
When As-built construction deviates from the approved permit plans and the inspector cannot certify that the as-built condition is acceptable an engineer is needed.
The contractor makes a mistake and constructs part of the building in an incorrect or unconventional manner and needs to be assessed by an engineer.
You have a crack or series of cracks in your house or cottage. Should I be concerned? Am I in for an expensive repair? From our experience, about half of the cracks we are asked to investigate are not of structural concern. Here’s some things to consider before you call.
Cracks in Foundation Walls
Most houses, cottage and small building foundations have cracks. Small tight vertical cracks are anticipated and are of little consequence unless they allow water leakage. The longer the wall, the greater the potential for shrinkage and vertical cracking, especially if the concrete was not reinforced.
If water is entering your basement through a small vertical crack, check the exterior grading and make sure surface water is directed away from the building. You should also take measures to seal the crack to eliminate the water. Moist foundation walls can lead to other issues such as dry-rot and mould formation.
If there has been a up/down displacement along the vertical crack, the crack may be due to settlement of the foundation wall and footing. This may be an indication of poor ground conditions and ongoing settlement. It may also be an indication of undersized or broken footings. An engineer knowledgeable in soil/rock ground conditions and foundations should review the cracks and make recommendations for repair. Further investigation may be required.
If the foundation wall has ‘bowed’ inwards or there is horizontal displacement of the poured concrete or blocks there may be more than one structural issues in play. The situation needs to be reviewed by an engineer whom can provide a plan of action.
If your foundation wall has horizontal cracks, contact us as soon as possible since this type of crack could reflect a serious deficiency in the foundation wall.
Sloping floors are often present in ‘century homes’ and older homes built prior to the strict enforcement of building codes. Sloping floors are often a sign of differential settlement between different components of the foundation such as perimeter footings and interior load bearing walls and post footings. Sloping floors are also caused by the damaging effects of frost heave on exposed foundations and unheated crawlspaces.
Another cause of sloping floors is improper floor framing. Sloping floors are often most obvious around stair openings and may be due to a lack of adequate framing around the opening itself.
Also, in aged buildings, structural members may have lost strength due to decay from dry rot which can lead to sloping floors. Older construction methods such as main floor joists imbedded into the foundations walls without moisture protection can lead to this problem.
Sloping floors are cause for concern and should be checked thoroughly by an Engineer.
Improper floor framing leads to the floor sagging in some areas. The same floor area may feel bouncy. The cause is usually incorrect floor framing – installation of under-sized, over spanned joists.
From our experience with older homes and cottages, bouncy floors occur where joist supports were under sized or in some cases, removed.
Sloping and bouncy floors are serious issues and in some cases, mean that the floor system has failed and could lead to collapse. Consider carefully the hidden liabilities which are contained within a home with sloping floors, since repairing a home with sloping floors can be very costly. If you have any doubt, contact us today.