The Simplified Process of Restoring a Damaged Building

by Rick Abbott PE, SE

When a building is damaged and a claim is made there are certain steps that must be followed in order to restore the building to its pre-loss condition or bring about justice. The following is a brief summary of that process.

Step # 1 - Often life safety issues must be assessed. A qualified person needs to determine if the structure has life safety concerns that merits the issuing of a hazardous condition letter in order to adequately warn or safeguard the public. The building may need temporary shoring.

“Engineers are expected to exhibit the highest standards of honesty and integrity.” (NSPE Code of ethics)
As part of the Engineering Code of Ethics, “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare
of the public.” This is the first and most important canon in the code of ethics.

Engineering Task # 1 - A Non-Biased Structural Engineer Licensed in the State may be needed to issue a hazardous condition letter.

Engineering Task # 2 - A Non-Biased Structural Engineer Licensed in the State may be needed to design temporary shoring systems.

Step # 2 - In order to fix a problem, the problem must be fully understood. The problems associated with the damage must be fully identified. Someone needs to determine the cause and extent of the damage.  Items needing repair must be identified individually. Each item of damage must have an associated cause.

Engineering Task # 3 - A Non-Biased Structural Engineer may be needed to provide an inspection.

A follow-up verbal or written report should include: Background Information, Inspection Observations, Related Technical Data, Analysis, and Conclusions of what is damaged and why.

Step # 3 - Someone needs to determine who is responsible for the cost associated with the individual damaged items. Someone needs to sort out what is covered and what is not. This is normally done by adjusters.

Problems may occur when a building need repairs that were not directly cause from a covered damaging incident.

Step # 4 - Someone needs to determine what needs to be repaired.

Engineering Task # 4 - An engineer should prepare a Recommended Scope of Repairs

Step # 5 - Determine the costs associated with each repair item. Estimates are prepared.

Step # 6 - Repair work may proceed or money is allocated to the owner for damage. The owner may decide not to fix the building.

Step # 7 - Determine if repair plans are required. Depending on the complexity, the owner, the contractor, the building official, and the engineer of record may be involved with this decision.

Engineering Task # 5 - Provide Signed and Sealed Engineered repair recommendations. This may involve plans and details or may only require a list or repair recommendations.

Step # 8 - Plans are submitted to the building official. A permit is issued. Work can proceed.

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