The complexity of structural engineering work required for the construction of new dwellings and the extensions and alterations to existing ones can often be underestimated, for although in the main the structures are small in civil engineering terms, an appropriately designed and well detailed scheme can save time, reduce cost and simply make life less stressful for all involved in the project. This is doubly important when someone is living in the structure in question. With existing buildings time taken to find out about the form of the existing construction including any previous alterations is rarely wasted.
We have very wide experience of both new build and alteration works on residential buildings from clay lump and traditional timber frame through all kinds of masonry construction to timber panel construction, and concrete / steel framed houses.
The requirements of work on commercial and industrial buildings largely stems from the fact that their function is paramount and often the building form simply follows the required function. The structural design should follow this principle to give a practical, buildable economic solution.
The commercial and industrial sectors are often less conservative than the residential market in embracing recent construction technology and the economic benefits this can bring.
Alterations to commercial and industrial buildings are often primarily governed by the need to minimize disruption to the main activity of the concern, and care and planning taken at the design stage can minimize disruption during the work itself.
G C Robertson & Associates have long experience in both the structural design of new commercial & industrial buildings and of alterations to them from portal framed industrial buildings, restaurants, schools, lifeboat stations to golf driving ranges.
Structural work on listed or historic buildings can either be to deal with defects or to extend / alter or change their use.
Any structural work to a Listed Building will require investigation to determine the form of the original structure, how it works and its capacity. In general the philosophy governing repairs and alterations to listed buildings is to maximize the retention of the existing structure and finishes, though there are wildly divergent approaches to this all with their own benefits.
It can be seen from the above that repairs and alterations to listed / historic buildings require a depth of knowledge of materials and building techniques beyond that of the structural design of new buildings.
It is important that the Conservation Officer of the Local Authority is consulted prior to any work on a listed building to check whether Listed Building Consent is required – see below (Statutory Background).
If you are new to the world of building construction it can be useful to have a broad outline of some of the legal hoops that need to be jumped through in order to construct or significantly alter a building.
Planning Permission – If you are proposing to construct a building or to modify a building so as to alter its external appearance Planning Permission is likely to be required and advice of the Local Authority should be sought.
Local Building Control Building Regulations Approval – There are a myriad of government regulations concerning the details of design and construction of buildings and these need to be complied with when constructing or altering a building. Part of these regulations govern structural design and construction requirements, and normally an application is made to the Building Control section of the Local Authority to gain approval of the design, and then the construction is checked on site at various stages by a Building Inspector.
Listed Building Consent – Some existing buildings, usually of special architectural or historical interest are listed and for these any significant extensions or alterations (even internally) require Listed Building Consent. The Conservation officer of the Local Authority can advise on whether a building is listed and if so what is required to gain consent. More details of this are given in the article above on Structural Design for Listed / Historic Buildings.
Construction Design & Management (CDM) Regulations – see CDM Co-ordinator.