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BRE Digest Dstt Concise reviews of building technology ‘cuss (wr) Structural appraisal of existing buildings for change of use This Digest gives guidance for professional engineers on the structural appraisal of existing buildings for a change of use, in particular as required by The Building Regulations for England and Wales. Regulation 6 requires titution, the building must com ements of Parts Al, A2, A3 and A4 of Schedule 1. The approach to structural appraisal of an existing buildin fundamentally different from that taken in designing the structure of a Digest explains the differences and describes a ical sequence for carrying out such an appraisal. The reporting and implementation of the findings of an appraisal for change of use are terials and structures The Digest deals with the structural appraisal of both traditional buildings -d using rules of thumb and experience for the layout and sizing of structural members — and those whose structure has been designed, calculated and specified according to engineering principles. Building Research Establishment Garston, Watford, WO2 7JR Telex 923220 Fax 0923 654010 366 ‘THE AIMS OF A STRUCTURAL APPRAISAL | Structural appraisal aims to assess the real condition | of a structure and to relate this to some defined requirement for its present or future use So that its, | structural adequacy can be judged. ‘This Digest concentrates on appraisal for a change of use to comply with the requirements Al, A2, A3 and ‘Ad of the Building Regulations: itis mainly | concerned with issues of safety, strength and stability | of the building and disproportionate collapse. Checking or upgrading of structural fire protection may also be necessary. Other purposes of structural appraisal may be © to check ability to sustain increased loads or alterations (without necessarily a change of use); © a structural examination on behalf of the prospective purchaser, tenant or insurance company; © a structural check following signs of distress or deterioration, neglect, fire, accidental damage, or direction or advice to examine structures of this type. THE APPROACH An appraisal should be planned and tackled in a logical sequence which should recognise the basic difference between design and appraisal. Design compared with appraisal In present-day design, a building is conceived ab initio, designed to meet regulatory standards for health and safety, and then depicted on drawings and through specifications; from these it can be built. The structural engincer or professional designer aims to produce a structure which will resist loads and other imposed effects to achieve safe and satisfactory performance. Structural criteria and behaviour are clearly documented and readily discernible even though, as a result of the process of construction, the as-built properties of the structure will not conform absolutely to those assumed in the design and shown in drawings and specifications. In appraisal, the building already exists. It embodies the effects of the construction process and its subsequent fife, during which it may have undergone alteration, deterioration, misuse, and other changes to its as-built (let alone as-designed) state. Structural criteria and behaviour have to be discovered from the building itself and such relevant documentary material and other sources as may have survived. The performance of the structure during its life isin itself important evidence to be considered in the appraisal. ‘The collection of information can be extremely time- consuming, soit is essential that the appraisal process should be defined in seope in response to the initial brief. Subsequently, the investigations and assessment should be of a scale appropriate to this brief, using engineering judgement and common sense. Another key difference in philosophy between design ‘and appraisal is that the designer will often make simplifying assumptions about the behaviour of a structure, secure in the knowledge that a safe design will result (provided that equilibrium is satisfied and attention is paid to serviceability requirements). Furthermore. in engineered designs, if not in traditional construction, allowance is made (through partial factors or other code provisions) for variations in material strengths and member sizes, between speci fied values and those actually realised in construction. In contrast, structural appraisal offers the opportunity to determine actuat as-built strengths and dimensions, as well as recognising the real behaviour and past 2 performance of the structure. his can be taken further, if necessary, by load testing of elements or parts of the structure, Allof this allows the appraiser to be more confident of the future performance of the structure. If this leads to a favourable view, the structure may possibly be assigned a higher load capacity than would be given by conventional design calculations. If it docs not, the feel justified by the improved knowledge on which this decision has been reached, Calculations At this point, itis appropriate to consider how much, effort should be devoted to calculations as part of a structural appraisal. The time available for such work is usually limited, so it should be used as effectively as possible, Calculations for appraisal may often be fewer and simpler than for design of a new structure. Equally, itis vital that calculations should be done where they are needed, For example, in appraising a stecl-framed building it may be more fruitful to spend some time studying references on the real behaviour of joints and then checking these using forces from a simplified (possibly hand) analysis of the overall structure, rather than assembling a computer analysis of the various, frames assuming rigid-joint behaviour and then adopting a highly simplified model for joint checking. Calculations may be particularly inappropriate for some traditional structures, where timber members ‘were sized by rule of thumb based on past experience, and masonry walls were built to a thickness enshrined in old rules or textbooks. On the other hand, the engineer will normally be wise to make calculations for elements whose mode of failure is sudden (cast iron beams, brittle in tension) and/or whose failure may lead to loss of life (a theatre balcony beam) or to disproportionate collapse (a column). Serviceability ‘The prime considerations in health and safety terms are strength and stability, durability (as it influences the maintaining of structural adequacy) and, occasionally, stiffness, Serviceability, particularly static deflections, is not usually significant from a Building Regulations point of view but may be very important to an owner, user or occupier. The current performance of the building is a useful guide, especially in view of the difficulty of predicting deflections accurately by calculation, APPRAISAL PROCEDURE. Define the brief: make an inital inspection and appraisal using) any immediately available information; decide on any immediate action needed; carry out detailed documentary search and 5 carry out derailed investigation of the building: 6 make assessment of the structure for the proposed change of use; 7 consider structural work needed for the proposed change of use: 8 prepare report on appraisal This sequence may be repeated if necessary. It may be decided that appraisal is inconclusive ‘without further work, such as foad testing. | Since the appraisal is being performed to show compliance with Building Regulations is | desirable throughout the process to establish and. | maintain the involvement of the building control authority. ‘The brief ‘The engineer should ensure that the appraisal brief is clearly defined. With lay clients in particular, itis important to explain clearly at the outset whiat is to be done in response to this brief and the information that the appraisal will provide. Anticipated requirements for access (inside and outside) should be explain responsibility agreed for providing labour and scaffolding etc for opening-up and for making good id afterwards. The terms of reference should include definitions (agreed between the client and the appraising engineer) of such requirements as durability, serviceability, acoustic and thermal performance, It is always useful to make an initial inspection of the structure to get a feel for its condition and the feasibility of change of use. It will be only a quick ‘examination but first-hand sight (aided by photographs and/or notes) are valuable when planning the subsequent detailed investigation, Immediately- available information (floor plans, survey reports ete) is worth having to hand on the walk-round, and anecdotal evidence of defects and alterations should be noted, Major defects should be reasonably evident to an experienced eye; these include bulging or badly- cracked walls, reinforcement corrosion or foundation, distress, It may be possible to gather useful dimensional and material data even on such a brie? visit to allow elementary checks on basie structural capacity Immediate action needed The engineer may be pressed for an instant opinion after the initial inspection, Any such view should be heavily qualified on account of the very limited information on which itis based but any major problems can be pointed out at once. In rare cases, the initial inspection may suggest that the building is in a dangerous condition, overall or locally. Immediate steps may be needed to reduce the risk, at Ieast until further investigation. Propping, shoring, removal of Toad or, in the most extreme cases, immediate evacuation may be needed. Detailed documentary search and review Time spent seeking and studying relevant documentary information will be amply rewarded in terms of time and money. This must, however, be tempered by an awareness of the information likely to be availuble, and where it may be found, if time is not to be wasted in a fruitless search. ‘Two categories of documentary information are useful © information specific to the particular building: drawings, specifications, structural calculations, construction records, maintenance records, details of alterations, previous survey reports, published descriptions: © information describing design and constructional practice for buildings of the particular type and period: building construction, textbooks, building regulations and by-laws, codes of practice, historical engineering studies. In general, information on traditional buildings is less likely to have survived, or indeed even existed, in the first category. Possible exceptions are large buildings, those designed by an architect and structures erected in the last century or so. Information on engineered buildings is more likely to be available in the first category: even so itis worth seeking information in the second category. especially when the specific details are incomplete (for example, appraisal of carly 20th century reinforced concrete structures using patent systems is greatly aided by an ‘understanding of the system derived from contemporary articles or books or recent study by engineering historians). Information on topography, subsoil conditions and groundwater can be as essential in many appraisals as information on the structure itself. Having obtained as much information as possible it should be reviewed as preliminary to the detailed investigation on site, Ifa comprehensive set of construction records exist, it may be necessary to do little more than spot-check this and to check whether any alterations or deterioration have taken place since construction. At the other extreme it may be necessary to undertake a major investigation involving measured surveys, extensive opening-up and widespread material sampling. Inform- tion gathered this way is invariably more expensive, and takes longer, and causes more disruption than information obtained from a documentary search,