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Engineering Analysis and Advice:

Engineering Analysis:

Of course, major construction projects have engineers involved throughout the project, and Norton Engineering has done such projects.

But occasionally, clients have asked us to assist with the design of only certain aspects of their projects. They'll design everything within the scope of their abilities, leaving just certain engineering to do, such as the structural design, or the stormwater or site design. They may lay out the rooms, choose the materials of construction, line up a favorite subcontractor with engineering capabilities for the electrical services, HVAC, or plumbing and then contact us for help. As long as we can clearly define the scope of the engineering work they think they need, we can, and often do, help.

Asphalt Failure
Asphalt Failure
   Sometimes clients need engineering help to fix a problem that was overlooked in the initial design or a problem discovered upon purchasing a property. For example, Norton was asked to analyze a situation a few years ago at a commercial site where fairly new pavement would develop big potholes each year. After several annual pavement repairs, the company called us to figure out what was causing the problem.

Inspection showed that the site had been carved out of the side of a hill to make a flat plateau for construction of their facility. The upper excavated soil had been filled in below and compacted thoroughly. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the soil was not very suitable for drainage. In fact, it had formed an excellent dam at the lower end of the filled site, which caused groundwater to be trapped throughout the site, underneath the building and pavement.

While this water seemed not to affect the large buildings on the site, the paving all around the site would "roll and creep" as each heavy truck passed; and the owner’s operations required frequent use of such heavy trucks. This paving problem wasn’t just during rains, it would last for weeks after any heavy rain, as groundwater seeped out of the upper hill side into the dammed up plateau.    Concrete Crack Pumping
"Concrete Crack Pumping"

Further complicating the problem was the use of "full depth" asphalt paving, a construction technique that uses a bit more paving thickness in lieu of any gravel base. Almost any gravel base would have allowed for some drainage of the trapped water. The combination of the two created a muddy foundation for the asphalt that just broke apart when the heavy trucks drove over it.

Norton proposed several inexpensive items to correct the problems: a trench drain and grassy swale at the high end of the plateau to direct the Stormwater around the plateau and down the hill, and gravel filter drains along the up hill edge of each driveway section.

"Stamping" Drawings:

Lately, we've been getting calls from people asking if we can "stamp their drawings" because the local building inspectors told them they needed an "engineer's stamp" for a component of their construction drawings. We tell them that, "Yes we can stamp the drawing, but only after a thorough review of the subject needing the "stamp."

We'll inspect the situation, run calculations, document our scope of work, prepare drawings, and do our level best to make sure the element in question is safe; and then, and only then, will we stamp the associated drawing(s). We will even try to keep the contractor as close to schedule as possible, if we can work it in.

This has been happening more frequently lately because of more stringent building codes and more lawsuits. When a building inspector approves a set of construction plans, he or she assumes some of the liability should anything go wrong. When they review a set of plans, they will approve the design as long as everything meets code, but when they see an unusual situation not specifically spelled out in the code or the manufacturer’s literature, they must ask for an engineer to review that part of the design.

It is necessary for building inspectors to take this precaution to insure the complete safety of a design. We realize that this kind of situation can seem like a nuisance because it may have been unexpected. It holds up the construction process and adds to the project costs.

We can’t just "stamp your drawing", but we typically won’t refuse to help because we understand what a hassle it can be. And we’ll charge, but we won’t make much money from helping you, but maybe you’ll come to us later, before something gets to the crisis stage.

Free Verbal Advice:

We also offer verbal advice, and some is absolutely free. If you see something on the website that interests you, or just have a question you think we may be able to answer, give us a call and we'd be happy to help you out.

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