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Forensic Structural Engineering: What Is It and When Do You Need This Service?

Updated: Jun 7


Your property is a valuable investment. So when earthquakes, fires, and other accidents damage your home or commercial building, you need experts who can help you understand what happened and how to protect your property in the future.


Forensic Structural Engineers conduct safety checks and generate reports on potential issues that led to your structural failure.


Not only that, but forensic investigation services include litigation support, creating virtual building models for 3D walkthroughs, non-destructive testing, and structural inspections.


What is Forensic Structural Engineering?

Forensic structural engineering is the science and profession of identifying the causes and risk factors of structural failure.


It includes analyzing your structure and foundation to point out the weak spots. That way, you can fix issues before they become significant problems and cause severe damage.


Engineers create 3D animations of your property to visualize potential threats and conduct damage assessments after a collapse, fire, or earthquake.


For example, one such service your forensic structural engineer will offer you is progressive collapse analysis, where the team will run tests to understand how your structure will behave under extreme loading circumstances.


The results will guide your maintenance efforts and improve the safety of your home or commercial property.


Forensic Structural Engineering helps you save costs by pre-planning repairs and confidently knowing which areas need to be strengthened.


Structural Engineers also educate you on the different sceneries that can damage your property based on their structure evaluation. Then, advise you on how to fix the deficiencies.


Who Needs Forensic Engineering Services?

Independent homeowners, commercial property owners, contractors, insurance companies, law firms, administrators, developers, and homeowner associations (HOAs) all require forensic engineering services for similar reasons.


HOAs and contractors usually need it for preliminary structural safety surveys and threat analysis, while law firms need expert testimonies and insurance claims.


Developers and property owners use these services to assess the level of damage after accidents, amongst other reasons.

Why You May Need Forensic Structural Engineering Services

Forensic Structural Engineers offer a range of services, from identifying the cause of your structural failure to preliminary construction site reviews.


As property owners, it is helpful to know what structural failures are, their types, causes, and the importance of following building codes.


Forensic Structural Engineers are specialists in structural damage investigation, so if you want to know how your property is vulnerable, forensic engineers can help.


You may also require forensic structural engineering services for legal testimonies or dispute resolution after property damage. These engineers are qualified to act as witnesses or expert consultants in legal matters.


Here’re a few more reasons why you’ll need forensic structural engineering services.


1. Fire Damage to Your Property

Fire is the most common reason why residential and commercial properties are damaged. It spreads rapidly and results in a loss of life and property.


You’ll need forensic engineering and investigation services to assess the structure after a fire to determine how much reconstruction you’ll need. They’ll identify the threats in your construction and recommend actions you can take to fix these areas.


2. Earthquake and Vibration Analysis

Forensic engineers determine the level of risk and vulnerability of the structure to strong winds or earthquakes. That is helpful to know when you are building a new structure. Otherwise, this information can help you retrofit your home post-construction.


As a part of the analysis, your engineer will study the floor displacement in case of an earthquake and its effect on furniture and hanging objects around the property.


3. To File Insurance Claims

Following an accident or damage to your property, you’ll need a licensed forensic structural engineers’ report to claim your insurance.


Also, to pass building code in some areas it’s a requirement to have an engineer inspect your property and prepare a safety report to verify structural integrity.


Modern forensic investigators create a 3D virtual accident reconstruction to justify their findings. It’s also used to plan for renovations so that the same issues are not repeated.

4. Before Planning a Remodel

You can save yourself from future problems and code violations by hiring forensic structural engineering services to analyze your property before a remodel. It’s instrumental if you’re renovating an older structure.


You need to know if you’re building on top of a sub-par foundation. A forensic structural engineer will identify areas that need reinforcements to ensure your remodel is structurally sound.


5. Forensic Engineering Investigation of Explosion

Suppose your property is vulnerable to blasts or explosions. In that case, you need a forensic structural engineer to conduct a threat analysis of how much damage a potential explosion will cause and how you can mitigate the danger.


After an accident, you’ll need forensic engineering investigators to survey your property to understand and report how the explosion happened and recommend how you can fix the causative factors during repairs.


Having forensic engineers inspect the property is a common practice for restaurants and workshops where gas explosions are common and can lead to severe damages.


Conclusion

Forensic Structural Engineering helps you to identify faulty design and poor construction. Most people use this service after the failure of their structure. But it’s just as essential to get a Forensic Structural Engineer to look at your property as a preventive measure to check for potential failures.


We offer licensed forensic engineering and investigative services in Portland and South California. Reach out to us for contractor services, insurance issues after damage to your property, or expert analysis of your structure.


You deserve a safe home for yourself and your loved ones. That’s why you should utilize our decades of forensic engineering and investigation experience and modern technology to check for threats in your residential or commercial property.


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