Our interpretations of the many codes and standards in our engineering industry

Flood Resistant Design & Floodproofing of Buildings

An Engineer’s walkthrough of the design requirements for flood resistant design of building components With Engineering Express’s early start with floodproofing designs for floor barriers and exterior glazing in projects across the US, we quickly became experts in this field.  We’ve witnessed and directed static and dynamic flood testing, sat on industry meetings, met with…

PRODUCT APPROVALS ARE NOT ALWAYS REQUIRED! HERE’S WHY:

HERE’S 3 MYTHS ABOUT PRODUCT APPROVALS:   Background: Product evaluations (sometimes called “product approvals”, “ICC reports”, NOA’s or similar) for building components are the general rule in the International Building Code.  Building officials, architects, insurance companies, third party reviewers, even homeowners ask for them all the time, frequently refusing permits, insurance discounts, and product installations.…

What are alteration levels in construction and how do they relate to delegate engineers?

  Alteration – Level 1 (Existing Building Code Section 503): Removal and replacement, or covering of existing materials, equipment, fixtures using new materials that serve the same purpose. Alteration –Level 1 does not include reconfiguration of space. Commentary:  Typically the component (delegate) engineer (such as Engineering Express® who are Building Component Design Engineers) serves as…

ASCE 7 Main Wind Force vs. Components & Cladding Explained (MWFRS vs. C&C)

ASCE 7 separates wind loading into three types: Main Wind Force Resisting System (MWFRS), Components and Cladding (C&C), and Other Structures and Building Appurtenances. MWFRS is defined as “(a)n assemblage of structural elements to provide support and stability for the overall structure.” Typically, members which receive loading from two surfaces are designed to resist MWFRS…

2006/2012 IRC RAILING GUIDELINES

 The 2006/2012 International Residential Code (IRC) contains railing guidelines similar to those found in the Florida Building Code Fifth Edition (2014, 2017).  Below are the written regulations along with images displaying the code as it applies to its appropriate context. Helpful PDF also appears here:  http://timnath.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2012-RESIDENTIAL-STAIR-GUIDE.pdf 2006 IRC R311.5.6 HANDRAILS (Height, Continuity, Grip Size) R311.5.6  (Handrails) …

Phantom Screens: Is a Florida Product Approval Required?

Product Approvals for building components are the general rule in Florida.  Building officials, architects, insurance companies, even homeowners ask for them all the time, frequently refusing permits, insurance discounts, and product installations. So what is the legal ruling on when and if product approvals are required for this product? The Florida Building Code requires only…

1 Hour Fire Rating For Roof vs Wall

Many ask if there’s a difference between a 1 hour fire rating on a wall product vs a 1 hour fire rating on a roof product. If you think about it, fire (AKA heat) does behave differently as it rises vs. spreads.  In fact, there is a difference: In the Florida Building Code (2014), Section 1505.1,…

When is a Fence or Railing 75% Open?

The Scenario The question comes up from time to time regarding requirements for a fence or railing to be 75% open (such as in the Lighthouse Point FL Building Code Amendments).  This is the case for example in Florida when overlooking the Intracoastal in Broward County.  This porosity also affects the design calculations for the…

About The UL 325 Safety Standard

The UL 325 is a safety standard for door, drapery, gate, louver, and window operators and systems. The standard was developed by underwriters laboratories Inc. in an open non-exclusionary process for manufacturers to use in designing products. This standard provides minimum requirements for the manufacture and installation of gate operators. It applies to electric operators…

About ASCE 7’s Directionality Factor Kd

The directionality factor (Kd) used in the ASCE 7 wind load provisions for components and cladding is a load reduction factor intended to take into account the less than 100% probability that the design event wind direction aligns with the worst case building aerodynamics.   Per ASCE 7-10,Section 26.6, the Directionality Factor Kd is defined…

ASCE 7 Wall and Roof Zones Explained

Per ASCE 7-10, buildings are composed of 5 different zones, depending on the wind loading they are subjected to. These zones are defined as follows: Zone 1: Has the lowest load; this zone accounts for approximately 80% of the roof surface, represented in the interior zones of the roof. Zone 2: Higher loading than Zone 1; this…

Mean Roof Height (ASCE 7)

Per ASCE 7, the Mean Roof Height (h) is defined as the average of the roof eave height and the height to the highest point on the roof surface, except that, for roof angles of less than or equal to 10°, the mean roof height is permitted to be taken as the roof eave height. Visually, AAMA TIR A15-14…

How to Avoid Contact With Aluminum & Dissimilar Metals

This is provided to inform clients and prospective clients of the requirements of the 2010 Aluminum Design Manual, Chapter M – Section M.7   Structures of the alloys covered by the Aluminum Design Manual are not ordinarily painted. Surfaces shall be painted where: 2014-T6 alloys are exposed to corrosive environments. Aluminum alloy parts are in contact…

Welded Aluminum and Railings

Regarding any aluminum railing project, it is imperative to understand the life-safety issue that arises when welding an aluminum railing post. A rail is classified as a life-saving fall guard for any elevation above 31 inches. The aluminum alloys normally used (such as 6061-T6) get their strength from a heat-treatment process. Welding weakens the heat-treated aluminum…

Steel Bolt Edge Distance Requirements

Per AISC-ANSI-360-10, the minimum edge distance for bolts is to follow the below table J3.4     https://www.scribd.com/doc/115942657/Minimum-Edge-Distance-Table-AISC-ANSI-360-10-Specifications-for-Structural-Steel-Buildings   or buy direct from AISC: https://www.aisc.org/store/p-1578-steel-construction-manual-14th-ed-fourth-printing-hardbound.aspx  

Metal Fasteners UNC vs Spaced Thread

Metal fastening is designed per the requirements of the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC): Specification for Structural Steel Buildings in conjunction with the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA): TIR-A9-14 Design Guide for Metal Cladding Fasteners.   The (2) most common types of fastener threads used in construction are Unified Coarse Thread (UNC) more commonly…

Can an engineer design alternate anchorage for a Florida product approval or other product evaluation?

According to Section 1710.8.4 of the Florida Building Code Fifth Edition (2014), “Opening protection components, fasteners, and other parts evaluated by an approved product evaluation entity, certification agency, testing laboratory, architect, or engineer and approved by the holder of the product approval may be interchangeable in opening protection assemblies provided that the opening protection component(s)…

How do I tell if my building is considered “enclosed”?

A building is considered “enclosed” if it does not comply with the requirements for open or partially enclosed buildings (ASCE 7-10, Section 26.2, “BUILDING, ENCLOSED”).   From the ASCE 7-05 Commentary   BUILDING, ENCLOSED, OPEN, PARTIALLY ENCLOSED: These definitions relate to the proper selection of internal pressure coefficients, GCpi . Building, open and building, partially enclosed are specifically…

How do I calculate the effective opening area on window or door products? – What opening area should be used for wind pressure determination on a multi-panel product?

The Building Codes in the US reference ASCE-7 for the design of the components and cladding of buildings (26.1.2.2 ASCE 7-(10)).  The theory of wind design goes that the smaller the area in consideration, the greater the probability that a maximum burst of wind will occur in that area over any 3 second period.  Wind…

ASTM E1996 Missile Levels and Definition

Missile Level E 6.2.1.1 Enhanced Protection (Essential Facilities): Buildings and other structures designated as essential facilities, including but not limited to hospitals, other health care facilities having emergency treatment facilities, jails and detention facilities, fire, rescue and police stations, and emergency vehicle garages, designated emergency shelters, communications centers and other facilities required for emergency response,…

The Recently Updated Saffir-Simpson Scale

First, it needs to be said that there is a complicated formula that converts wind velocity to wind pressure.  Many wind pressure values can exist from a single wind velocity which vary based on roof height, topography, terrain, even code version, and more.  See our wind speed to wind pressure calculators for different ASCE codes by…

What wind speed should I use for my project?

The answer to that question varies with location and type of building, but feel free to download the attachment listed below which is an exhaustive list of the wind speeds used in the general Florida locale and another general map for the country. Please be sure to verify with your local Building Department as these…

Should a professional utilize the ASD (“Allowable Stress Design”) method or the LRFD (“Load Resistance Factored Design”) method when calculating the required wind pressure for use with tested / approved systems?

Most all products are evaluated using the ASD method (unless noted otherwise). ASD method in, then ASD method out. Among the notable changes in ASCE 7-10, the wind speed map and the importance factor for wind loads have been replaced with three wind load maps based on difference and newly defined return periods and for…