JR Structural Engineering, INC.

3942 Valley Ave., Suite K

Pleasanton, CA 94566

(925) 469.8000

Our Approach

General

Role of Plans

Risk

Our role as project engineer is to manage risk in a manner that allows our clients the opportunity to make cost/benefit decisions by providing problem solving options that are consistent with the Goals of the Structural Design.

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It is not our job to spend our client’s money, it is our job to provide problem solving options.  We provide options - our clients make decisions.

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A typical project includes many consultants who prepare construction documents for use in completing the project. Most often, the building owner will work with an architect to develop a layout that is consistent with the owner’s desires and dreams.  Simply put, the structural engineer’s role is to provide recommendations that will allow the building to perform in an acceptable manner under the loads and stresses applied by the occupants and the forces of Mother Nature.

 

To resist the loads and stresses applied by the occupants and the forces of Mother Nature, the structural engineer will design a gravity system and a lateral system for the project.

 

The goals of these systems are:

- Performance

- Compliance with the Uniform Building Code

- Compliance with generally accepted standards of practice

- Provide higher factors of safety in some areas to address sources of common structural problems

 

Our experience working with homeowners, architects, contractors, and all of the other individuals who form the project team has lead us to believe that there are two concepts that, if understood, promote teamwork and significantly increases the probability of a projects success.  The concepts are the intent of the structural plans and the management of risk.

 

The plans and calculations developed by the structural engineer communicate the recommendations associated with the gravity and lateral systems.  However, it is important that the project team  understand that the structural plans do not provide step-by-step directions for successfully constructing the project.  Rather the plans provide a summary of the key structural elements that are recommended to allow the building to perform as intended.  These recommendations are presented in the plans with the understanding that the experience and expertise of the contractor are necessary to properly interpret the intention of the information shown in the structural plans and coordinate the efforts of the various trades selected to construct the structure.  The assistance of the engineer to clarify the plans and answer questions during the construction phase of the project  is an important element of a successful project.

 

In summary, the plans should be considered a tool for use during construction of the project.  Just as we would expect that the contractor to know how to properly use a hammer or saw, we also expect him to  properly use the construction plans.

 

All construction projects include an element of risk that the project will not be successful. Typical factors that reduce the probability of success include:

 

  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Low quality materials
  • Poor workmanship
  • Theft or vandalism
  • Uncooperative city officials
  • Site drainage problems
  • Unforeseen or hidden soil conditions (i.e. buried chemicals, unstable soils, etc.)
  • ...many, many others

 

The purpose of our efforts is to help manage some of the risks associated with the project.  Project owners who understand that the structural engineer is one of the key risk managers on the project team will be in a position to make better project related decisions.  Conversely, a structural engineer who does not understand his role as risk manager may direct the project team to incorporate costly elements rather than provide adequate information to the project owner to allow informed cost vs. risk decisions.

 

It is important to note that we can manage the risks associated with a project but we can’t eliminate them.  For example, we could build a home with the strongest, most expensive materials using the highest quality contractors that money could buy.  Despite our efforts, the forces of Mother Nature that built our mountains and valleys could eventually bring down the structure. The elements recommended to manage risks on our projects are specified to meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the Uniform Building Code and generally accepted local standards of practice.  The UBC and local standards of practice include provisions that reduce the risks associated with a project to levels that are deemed acceptable and can be defended in a court of law.