Problems with the partially engineered house

April 29, 2008
Publication: Crossing Borders: Proceedings of the 2008 Structures Congress. April 24-26, 2008, Vancouver, BC, Canada, ASCE

Abstract: Most wood-frame houses are built without the benefit of structural design. Often, when engineered wood components are called for, the local building official will insist that these elements be designed by a registered professional engineer. In these cases, the resulting design may only be partially engineered. Often, the building official insists only that the engineered piece be sealed. An engineer may be called upon to provide only this service, with no mandate or budget to make a thorough review of the building, or to understand fully the context into which the engineered piece will be placed. The engineering may even be arranged through the local lumber yard. When this happens, the design sheets for wood trusses, joists, and/or girders may be sealed, but the engineering certification does not extend to the entire building, or even to the elements that support the engineered piece. This paper explores the problems that arise from partial engineering, whether it is done by an engineer constrained by budget, opportunity, or experience, or by a lumber yard where pre-packaged software supports engineering the piece, but there is no field investigation to understand the remaining issues.

Services: Structural Design