Why are Structural Calculations Important in Design?

Each discipline that is involved in the design of a building brings a critical component to the process. A building’s look and functionality are both determined by the architect. The systems that enable your residents to take advantage of cozy temperatures, clean air, the comfort of power, drinkable water, and sanitation services are created by engineers in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing fields.

Your building is made to stand by structural engineers. They create buildings that can survive strong winds, defy gravity, and stay firm even when the ground underneath them begins to tremble. Structural calculations, a sophisticated but little-used instrument that lacks the luster of architectural design, are used by engineers to underpin their designs. You have probably heard of them before if you are organizing a building project. Perhaps you had questions about what they were or if your project fell under their purview.

What exactly are structural calculations, then?

They are the mathematical foundation for the stability of your structure. They are used by engineers to calculate the loads that a building must be able to sustain and the characteristics of the structural elements. They include the many connecting mechanisms that keep the building together as well as the piers, piles, footings, columns, joists, beams, slabs, trusses, and rafters.

Quality calculations might help you save money on your project from a financial standpoint. A typical building’s structure can cost up to 20% of the entire cost of construction in materials and labor. Your structural calculations must allow for the most cost-effective method of creating a compliant, durable structure, given the large percentage of your money at stake. A skilled engineering team will use calculations to identify structural savings and assist your project in staying within its budget.

The precision of structural calculations is crucial to the permitting procedure. Officials from the building department check them for conformity with all relevant local codes; calculations that aren’t being sent back to the engineering team for adjustment, which delays the permit application and your planned construction date. On the other side, accurate structural calculations can speed up permits and construction.

How the Design Process Is Affected by Structural Calculations

The planning step of the design process is known as architecture. In this stage, as the client, you have the opportunity to explain to the architect your ideas and intentions for the building’s design, use, and cost. After that, the architect incorporates your ideas into the plan and depicts them in a series of drawings.

The next phase is to create a structure that can sustain the architectural elements of the building. Throughout this procedure, the engineers in charge of it will do many computations.

Engineers must first forecast the loads that they expect to operate on the structure. These are known as specified loads, and they consist of:

  • loads imposed by people, furniture, vehicles, and dead loads brought on by the weight of the building itself, loads brought on by natural disasters like wind, earthquakes, and snow
  • Most of these loads are found in regional modifications of the California Building Code, which engineers may discover.

The design loads, or the loads that the engineers plan the structure to support, must then be determined. Buildings are often built to handle more loads than they are anticipated to encounter. Therefore, these are higher than the stipulated loads.

The structure may be designed by engineers once the loads are known. The correct sizes of structural parts will now be determined using dimension tables from the building codes. By searching up known values, such as dead and live loads, the user is able to arrive at unknown variables, such as the depth of a beam or the breadth of a column.

Engineers will also compute the stiffness and strength of the members. The capacity of a part to withstand deformation when faced with a force is referred to as stiffness. When the force is tensile or compressive, stiffness is stated as a ratio of force to deformation; for rotational, shear, and torsional forces, stiffness is measured in pounds per degree.

The greatest load that a material can endure before deforming or failing is indicated by its strength. Engineers would determine a member’s bending or shear stress to determine the member’s strength, depending on what pressures are anticipated to impinge on the member.

The accuracy of structural calculations will play a significant role in simplifying the permit procedure after the structural design is finished and submitted to your local building department for plan check approval.

Requirements for Building Permits

A building permit is the local government’s approval to carry out project-related construction operations. This compliance enforcement system, which should not be mistaken for approvals, carefully examines your project’s conformance to regional codes. In California, a project must adhere to a number of rules in order to obtain the necessary permits. Before construction can start, the majority of structures require at least the following permits:

Permits for demolition, grading, buildings, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems

Every application for a permit must be accompanied by supporting paperwork, which usually consists of designs and specifications for the applicable scope. Architectural and structural drawings, as well as the calculations used to create the drawings, are typically included with building permit applications.

The building inspectors must ensure that your project has a structure that can withstand the gravity and environmental loads required in the building code while evaluating your application for a construction permit.

The engineers’ selection of structural components and their configuration is supported by the structural calculations included with the permit application. Your engineers may make it easier for the reviewing official to comprehend how they came up with their design by supplying a clear set of precise structural calculations to back up the drawings. This, in turn, expedites the permit application process.

What You Can Expect From Us

The ability of your structure to remain upright should be the final concern if you are organizing a construction or remodeling job. Additionally, you presumably want to reduce the amount of time that building department evaluations cause your project to sit idle.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about frame structures vs. load-bearing structures.

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