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Structural Notes

Structural Notes

Structural Notes

In my office, whenever we start a job, we take a "General Structural Notes" page from some similar old job and modify it to suit the types of construction used for our current job.  Most often we start with more than we need and delete what is irrelevant.  This has been going on so long that nobody really even seems to know where the original "General Structural Notes" sheet came from.  I'm concerned that the information we have may be out of date or may not be comprehensive enough.  I know that, if I had to recreate it from scratch, I'd probably miss half of it anyhow.  My question is this: is there anywhere (preferably online) where one might download some gigantic, all-encompassing structural notes spec that I could then modify to suit my needs?  I know I sound lazy but sometimes I get lucky this way and stumble upon really good info.  Thanks.

RE: Structural Notes

In some cases, use of the general structural notes is a simplified gist of the specifications of a specific project.  One place to start, if I wanted to created the structural notes from scratch, is the Unified Guide Specifications.  This is a tri-service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) specification document that is very comprehensive.  Typically, the general notes I have come across reflect the information available in such a document, which is updated often enough.  Of course, additional specs are derived for the various organizations (i.e., ACI, AISC, ASCE, PCI, etc.)

RE: Structural Notes

I have no direct link to a set of complete notes but it is a good idea to assemble a "master" general notes that are constantly updated.  For every project, general notes shall be assembled from the master and edited for job specific information.  Most of general notes shall remain the same.  Engineer need only edit the soil report info, seismic criteria, wind criteria, list of live loads and such.

Danger of taking a completed notes from a similar job is that unless you specifically worked on it, you don't know which notes were modified specificly for the previous job.  I've once encountered a set of drawings submitted with soil info from the previous job!

SEAOC once handed out a set of general notes to use as a base (or an example) which was mainly for type V construction and i can't remember where I placed it.

One other suggestion i have is, if you ever do plancheck for some of your local building departments, you may have access to various engineer's notes.  I dont recommend STEALING but you might be able to come across a nice sentence or two to add you your own.

Good luck.

RE: Structural Notes

I dont think a drawing with 36 notes collected from different projects looks more professional or a long list of notes adds any value to the drawing. The main things that go into the notes are the ones you will not miss anyway. I have several drawings to my credit with only one note that "all dimensions are in mm" and these drawings were no inferior to those with 10 comments. To the contrary a lot of notes blur the importance of important notes burried in not-so- important ones.

RE: Structural Notes

Two ideas.  One is to buy the book "Structural Details Manual" by David R. Williams.  It has extensive notes regarding wood, joists, CMU and almost anything else you might need.
Another is to pick up some bid sets of projects from your local government entities.  In our area the first set is sometimes free.  I'm not a lawyer but I think since they're in the public domain you could use them as a resource (of course, anything on your drawings is yours).
I suspect that after looking at a few general notes, you'll realize that there is a lot of similarity between them.

RE: Structural Notes

Drawings are for pictures of what you want to build.

Specifications are for written descriptions of what you want to build and how to build it.

If you have to write out in some detail  what you want built, I suggest putting it into the written specification.

Two extremes I have seen and don’t recommend.

1)    No written specifications. Instead what would normally have been on letter sized paper and bound into a specification volume was printed on E sized paper and bound into a drawing set. Impossible to find anything and difficult to read.
2)    No words on the drawing at all. Instead all the drawing had were references to the specification section. Also very difficult to work with and follow since you needed the specification volume with you at all times.

Find a happy medium and only put notes that are very specifically site specific on the drawings.  Don’t put follow the building code, that should already be in the written specification or be a local by-law. Don’t put all the soil information, just put the bore logs (label the logs for information only) and refer to the geo-technical report.

Remember the construction types will usually only look at the drawings in the field. If you need the information in the field (outside not in the office trailer) put it on the drawings otherwise put it in the specifications or information to bidders.

I would suggest that you develop a master list of notes and delete or modify as required. Any specification writer will tell you horror stories of using notes or specifications from another job and modifying. That is the easiest way to miss something important.

Rick Kitson MBA P.Eng

Construction Project Management
From conception to completion

RE: Structural Notes

I can't point to a source for a listing of possible notes that might be included in a set of General Notes to be placed on a drawing, but I can attest to the importance of having a set of General Notes on the drawing. Sometime during the life of a structure there will likely be a need for rehabilitation and/or modification to suit a new process or function or correct some distress. The written specifications usually can't be found but the drawings/prints are available. If the notes are good they will include the listing of material types, strengths, codes used to design, etc. This will allow a good start on the project.
I have clients who require that the key items of the structure be listed in the General Notes on the Drawings. The plant personnel then can find all of what they need on one source.

Florian B

RE: Structural Notes

RDK has some good points that I agree with...

One other view, though, on plan notes.

Our primary consideration of when to include a note on a plan is that plans are many times used in the far future for alterations or additions to your facility.  You should always include notes that specifically provide design and material information that would be helpful to you, or another engineer, for these kinds of future activities.  Most specifications are discarded after the project has been completed so the plans are all that's left.

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