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Shutting down a building...

Shutting down a building...

Shutting down a building...

(OP)
Hi folks,

I did an investigation today on a building (chain restaurant) where the roof trusses are pulling completely away from the carrying truss, in one section of the building.  A few connections have failed and it appears that others are following suit.  The building is only about 6 years old and has had ongoing construction issues.  I believe the building should be closed until the truss connections can be repaired.

I've got a call in to the state board, but in the meantime, I'd love some advice on who I need to notify, and how, and what my responsibilities are.  Do I have the power to shut down a building?  My client is a contractor hired by the restaurant chain to upgrade all their buildings.  I'm in the US.

I'm in new territory here so any advice would be appreciated.  I would ask my senior engineers but I'm a one-woman show...

cheers,
Linnea

RE: Shutting down a building...

Not my area of expertise, so my response MAY be wrong.  My opinion is that you should inform the local municipality Building Inspector.  And also the building tenants and owner.  Wait & see what other answers you get.

TygerDawg
Blue Technik LLC
Virtuoso Robotics Engineering
www.bluetechnik.com

RE: Shutting down a building...

1.  Do you have as structural license?  If not, you will have to refer the authority for the decision to your boss.  So...

2.  Talk to your boss first and see what his reaction is.  If he wants to delay or cover this up to maintain the client, I would keep this in mind a d search for a new employer.

3.  If not, listen and learn..   The next step would be to notify the client and the local building official, like yesterday.  Keep them in the loop and work to fix the problem, immediately.  It is a life-safety issue.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering

 

RE: Shutting down a building...

(OP)
Thanks for your thoughts, guys.  The good news is the owner decided to close today until repairs are complete.  I'm doing a proposal for that after I finish my initial "oh my goodness" letter.

Mike, yes I have my PE (all that's needed in my area), and I run my own firm, so I don't have anyone here to ask.  I'll give the board another call to find out what's required in this area.

RE: Shutting down a building...

A responsible owner.  That's the kind of client to have.  If the client had wanted to keep the restaurant operating, you would have had no choice but to notify the local building official in the strongest possible terms.

RE: Shutting down a building...

For reference, if the problem is severe enough to warrant quick action to protect life, limb, or property, the best call is to the local fire department.

The firefighters won't be able to make an engineering call, but they won't let go until somebody official does make the call.

Good on ya,

Goober Dave

RE: Shutting down a building...

As the owner I would have asked, can we do some temp fixes or shut a area down, put in some form work/a frames? such that the place remains open.

How could you do anything so vicious? It was easy my dear, don't forget I spent two years as a building contractor. - Priscilla Presley & Ricardo Montalban
 

RE: Shutting down a building...

(OP)
Hokie, my thoughts exactly.

Dave, excellent idea!

RE, we talked about that, but it would have been a series of shores across the entire front length of the building, and part of the back. Not really feasible.

RE: Shutting down a building...

slta...in your area, the Building Official should be immediately notified (although I like the fire department idea from Dave!).  The building official has the direct authority under the code in your area to require evacuation, shoring and prevention of entry by non-authorized individuals.

To protect your liability, send an email then follow-up letter to the Building Official recommending condemnation of the building and immediate shoring and repair.

Agree with hokie66.

RE: Shutting down a building...

(OP)
Ron, I talked with the NC Board's counsel late yesterday and he said that since the owners have closed the building and are working on the repair process, I don't need to notify the building dept right now.  However, if the owners drag their feet, I'll go there.

Thanks for all the help and ideas!

RE: Shutting down a building...

About 15 years ago, I was put in the unique position of having to provide a professional opinion during a turbine inspection in Jamaica.  At the time, I gave the best and most informed opinion I could to the plant manager regarding the risks, and provided 3 possible scenarios that could play out if the turbine wasn't shut down and the issue dealt with.  I closed my presentation with the advice that management could either open it up now and deal with it on a weekend evening off-peak, or wait for the turbine to dictate the date and time of failure.  I didn't find out about their decision until the car ride back to the hotel, when I heard on the radio "There will be rolling blackouts on the southern side of the island tonight, as the nation's power utility deals with unscheduled turbine maintenance at the Old Harbour Power Station."  Sure enough, as I got in the car to drive back to the power plant that night, the power went out in Kingston.

Bottom line, you tell them what they need to hear, give your best assessment of the risks involved, and make sure that they have the best information available to make an informed decision.
   

RE: Shutting down a building...

That is very good advice from dtorec, you need to speak in the language of the customer. For management this is putting it in terms of financial and business risk.

RE: Shutting down a building...

Let us remember our Code of Ethics - To protect the health, well fare and safety of the public - or something along that line.

There are ways of getting things done and look like you have it under control.

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