Structural design is an analytical process of applying engineering practices, methodologies and past experience to create a functional, economic, and safe structure for everyone to enjoy. By using structural analysis techniques and conforming to the project design specifications, the design engineer works to create a solution that is to everyone's benefit.
The main function of retaining walls is to stabilize hillsides and control erosion. When construction is necessary over rugged terrain with steep slopes, retaining walls can help to reduce the grades of a development and the land alongside the project area.
Some projects lack available land for the project location, requiring construction right along the toe of a slope. In these cases extensive grading may not be possible and retaining walls become necessary to allow for safe construction and acceptable slope conditions to meet the final design requirements.
Where soils are unstable, slopes are quite steep, or heavy runoff is present, retaining walls can help to limit soil migration and be utilized as a sediment erosion control structure. Excessive storm water runoff can undermine vehicle use areas and onsite structures, thus controlling sediment runoff is a major environmental, structural and water quality design criteria aspect for development projects.
In these situations, construction of retaining walls, rather than excessive onsite grading, protects the environment by reducing the amount of the existing vegetation removal and in turn reduces soil migration and erosion caused by storm water runoff. Lastly the preserved vegetation serves to stabilize the soil and filter out sediments and pollutants before they enter a storm water pond or a local municipal infrastructure system.
The function of a residential & commercial foundation is to support the structure. A large portion of foundations constructed in the Florida-Georgia-Alabama Tristate area consists of stem wall and/or monolithic reinforced slab-on-ground foundations. Many of the foundations are placed on expansive clays and/or fills. Foundations placed on expansive clays and/or fills have an increased potential for movement and resulting differential settlement or movement. Florida Building Code has general guidelines, but may not be sufficient for the soil conditions located on a specific site.
Building sites having expansive clay, high groundwater table, low bearing capacity soil, or the presence of organic materials should be designed by and signed & sealed by a Florida, Georgia, or Alabama registered professional engineer.
Slope stability is the geotechnical analysis of a soil covered slope and the potential of the slope to undergo slope failure. Slope stability analysis focuses in on the mechanics of the soils present onsite and how the environment around the slope affects the soils. The analysis examines the balance between shear stress placed on the soil and shear strength capacity of the soil.
The shear strength of a slope may be decreased by weathering, changes in pore-water pressure or organic material decaying within the slope itself.
Blackhawk Engineering provides structural inspections and structural observation services for homes or buildings where damage has occured.
Some typical instances where BHE will inspect a structure are (but not limited to):
- Damaged Roof Trusses
- Wood Destroying Organisms (WDO)
- Moisture Damage
- Foundation Cracks
- Cracks at Window or Door Openings
- Sheet Rock Cracks
- Tree Damage
- Floor Girder or Joist Damage
- Post and Beam Damage
Wind Load Analysis
Mark Cooper, P.E. has developed a program for wind load analysis that can quickly and accurately provide calculations for most residential and light commercial structures. This analysis is in compliance with ASCE7-05 and the Florida Building Code.