When Do I Need a Structural Inspection?

This is a very common question, especially in South Florida after the recent Surfside building collapse. Since we specialize in multi-story commercial buildings, which are the most common to need structural inspections, we will focus on this property type. A structural inspection is something that should be ordered if there are any potential signs of concrete damage. This includes cracks in walls or ceilings, as well as spalling. Spalling refers to a condition where concrete is broken off of a structure and rust forms in the steel reinforcement found within. This is a very common condition here in South Florida because saltwater can penetrate concrete and cause it to break down. Concrete is actually very porous and tends to absorb saltwater particles like a sponge.

A structural inspection is also recommended if you are buying a multi-level property that is more than 20 years old. Here in Florida, properties are required to perform a detailed inspection by the 40 year anniversary date from when the property was built, this is known as a 40 year recertification. In addition, this inspection is also mandatory every 10 years thereafter. So if the property you are in the process of purchasing has had a recent inspection, a new one may not be in order but you should certainly request a copy of the last report.

What is a Structural Inspection?

A structural inspection is a very detailed report that evaluates the structural integrity of a property. It also identifies any recommended repairs to address any defects found. There are generally two types of structural inspections: a general structural inspection and a specific structural inspection. A general structural inspection evaluates the building without any specific pre-existing areas of concern. A specific structural inspection focuses on an existing structural concern or visible damage. Regardless of the type, we recommend that the engineer that performs the inspection be licensed and certified in their respective state. Structural inspection reports can be more than 20 pages long and include details on the foundation of the property, walls, roof, and other structural components of the building.

Need a structural inspection in Miami or Broward County? Just Ask G. Batista! 30+ years experienced engineer. (954) 434-2053.

What Exactly is a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers specialize in analyzing, designing, planning, and researching structural components to ensure safety and achieve design goals. They are true problem identifiers and problem solvers. To be a licensed and registered engineer you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering and at least four years of experience under the tutelage of a licensed and registered professional engineer. They specialize in structural systems, often made of concrete, and are experts in ensuring that a building can bear the load it is intended to support per the structure’s design.

Here is an example of how our founder, Greg Batista, identified structural problems at a building and performed concrete repair and restoration inside a crawl space.

A property’s structure can be compromised because of a variety of conditions but perhaps the most common is mother nature. Hurricanes, snow, earthquakes, and atmospheric conditions can impact a property in many different ways. Buildings in South Florida are especially susceptible to structural issues due to factors such as salt water particles in the air and hurricanes. For this reason the Florida building code is very stringent, to the benefit and safety of all.

Understanding the role of a structural engineer raises the importance of finding one that is well experienced and reputable. Here at G. Batista Engineering and Construction, we have over 30 years experience and are a very unique company. We are a true “Integrated Design-Build Firm” which means that we perform our own engineering and construction IN-HOUSE. We are at the forefront of a new generation of companies that provide multi-disciplinary services. In addition, we possess errors and omissions insurances, we are bonded, and hold multiple county and state certifications for obtaining work in the public sector and working as a team member on various design projects.

Need a structural inspection in Miami or Broward County? Just Ask G. Batista! 30+ years experienced engineer. (954) 434-2053.

What Happens During a Structural Inspection?

During a structural inspection, the engineer will analyze a number of crucial areas of a property such as:

  • Roof
  • Framing
  • Attic/Crawl Spaces
  • Foundation
  • Interior/Exterior walls
  • Brickwork and Masonry

A diligent inspection of these areas is crucial to everyone’s overall safety. When a building is constructed, it is intended to be able to handle the weight of anticipated loads. However, as mentioned prior, environmental conditions and also the maintenance or lack thereof of the property could compromise the building’s structure. These are all factors that the engineer will take into consideration when inspecting a property. The ultimate goal is to make sure that the property will safely perform its structural duties and avoid a potential disaster.

How to Prepare for a Structural Inspection?

The important thing when preparing for a structural inspection is to clear out any obstacles that can impede the engineer from properly evaluating the property. The engineer needs to be able to easily inspect walls, crawl spaces, and the roof. It’s best to remove any debris around the foundation of the property. If there are existing plumbing leaks, it’s best to repair them, so the engineer does not confuse a plumbing leak for another problem.

What Happens If the Report Has Bad News?

If you receive a structural inspection report with areas of concern, it’s normal to worry. If the structural inspection was done because you are considering purchasing the property, find comfort in knowing that you made a good choice to be proactive. A report with structural deficiencies does not mean that the deal is dead. It just provides you more leverage in the negotiation, and you can require the seller to correct the defects before the purchase is completed. The good news is that a structural inspection report also provides recommended solutions with the action plan clearly laid out. Structural engineers are problem solvers so their goal is not only to point out the problems but also to provide details on how to correct them.

What Type of Structures are Usually Inspected?

Here are some of the structures that are often inspected by a structural engineer.

  • Shoring
  • Tie Beams
  • Masonry
  • Reinforcing Steel
  • Structural Steel
  • Roofing
  • Footings
  • Piles
  • Columns
  • Floor Slabs
  • Elevated Slabs
  • Post Tensioning

A structural inspection is a very important project that requires an experienced and licensed engineer. If you need a structural inspection in Miami or Broward County? Just Ask G. Batista! 30+ years experienced engineer. (954) 434-2053.

Structural inspections, as shown in the images, are used to assess the state of the foundation, the roof, and/or the structure of the building as well as provide information related to their condition and if a repair is necessary

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