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  • Sample report of a structural investigation - insurance claim inspection report

    Customer Name: Insurance Company

    Project Name: Residential Home Storm Damage

    Project Location: USA


    I. Introduction

    II. Background & History

    III. Wind Loads

    IV. Wall Diaphragms

    V. Repairs

    VI. Summary

    I. Introduction

    The site was inspected by Thomas R. Price P.E., of Structural Solutions LLC, a licensed professional engineer. The inspection lasted approximately 1 hour. Also present were representatives of the insurance company, and the owner.

    II. Background & History

    The home is a two storey wood framed structure on a basement, basically rectangular in plan,
    with a main gable ridge axis running approximately east-west. It is built with materials,
    structural systems, and utilities very common for this type of home. A steel open-framed
    tower of approximately 70’ height stood approximately 10 to 20 ft. from the house, to the

    A recent storm created wind load conditions severe enough to cause significant damage to the property. At least part of the damage to the house was caused by the tower falling over onto its west gable end, hitting near the gable peak.

    III. Wind loads

    Wind loads create lateral and uplift forces on structures. A wood framed structure of this
    type achieves its lateral load resisting capability primarily from diaphragm action of the
    roof, wall, and floor sheathing, and diagonal bracing if present. The loads induced on the
    house have caused distortion of various diaphragm surfaces, as well as severe structural
    damage to the north wall of the great room. Only careful measuring with appropriate
    measuring tools can tell just how out of plumb, level and square the house currently is.

    It is difficult to assess the exterior walls as they are covered by siding outside and drywall inside,
    leaving no way to determine what diaphragm / bracing materials are present, and what fastener
    quantity and spacings exist. The condition of the second floor as a structural diaphragm is not
    known since the decking and fasteners are covered with carpet. Similar uncertainty exists with
    the roof.

    IV. Wall diaphragms

    There are numerous locations where the wall to ceiling drywall joint has failed longitud-
    inally. This is due to large lateral forces occurring in the plane of the wall. In walls that
    show visible distress to the drywall itself, the taped joints, and/or the fasteners, it must
    be assumed that the drywall is no longer acting as a rigid diaphragm, and must be replaced.
    It also is likely that the wall has been racked out of its original position. This causes doorways
    to change shape, making the door difficult or impossible to close.

    V. Repairs

    Wall, floor, and roof surfaces that have been distorted out of original position must have
    their sheathing replaced. The damaged sheathing, fasteners, taped joints, etc. cannot be
    re-used as load resisting members. The framing members themselves - studs, joists, rafters,
    etc. may very well be in usable condition if the distortion of the diaphragm was small. If
    inspection after removal of the sheathing reveals that the framing members are in good
    condition, re-use of them may be considered.

    Even if framing members are deemed to be in usable condition, all wall, floor, and roof areas
    must be brought back into a plumb and square condition prior to installation of new sheathing
    materials. Proper measuring devices such as transits, levels, steel measuring tapes, and others
    must be utilized to determine plumb, level, and squareness of the various diaphragm surfaces of
    the house. It is questionable as to whether it is practical to attempt to re-square the structure
    without dismantling it down to the first floor. Jacking or pounding one wall back square and
    plumb may cause others to go out of shape, and it could become impossible to get everything
    square and plumb at the same time. Also, the jacking and pounding will take its toll on the
    framing materials. If this type of repair is attempted, it is likely that all sheathing will need
    to be removed from the walls, and quite possibly the second floor and roof as well. A qualified
    home building contractor should be consulted for determining the feasibility of these types
    of salvage operations.

    Essentially, it may not be cost-effective to try to reverse what nature has done.

    Where framing members have clearly been damaged, such as the north exterior wall of the great
    room, and the west end of the main gable, replacement is necessary.

    Inspection of the basement and first floor revealed no significant damage other than damage
    to the floor decking where it appears that falling masonry from the fireplace punctured it.
    Replacement of affected floor deck is necessary. It appears likely that the basement and
    first floor framing and decking are in good usable condition, if it can be verified that all
    surfaces are plumb, level, and square, and the punctured decking replaced. Floor anchorage
    to the concrete basement wall must be checked, and reinforced if deemed necessary.

    Any existing materials re-used In the reconstruction must be inspected carefully for damage.
    If there is any doubt about a structural member, it should be replaced.

    Any wall, floor, or roof assemblages being considered for re-use must be thoroughly inspected
    and brought into tolerance for plumb, level, and squareness.

    If the 70 ft. tower is to be reinstalled, it must be inspected for damage to its structural elements.
    It is advisable that the soil bearing capacity be investigated at the tower base, and a foundation
    base be designed to accommodate the soil conditions, and the loading provisions prescribed
    by the Building Code.

    Vl. Summary:

    - Proper measuring devices must be used to determine how far out of plumb, level and square
    the structure currently is.

    - Diaphragm materials that show signs of distress must be replaced.

    - Many individual framing members throughout the house may be in good condition.

    - Salvaging the structural materials above the first floor may prove to be too difficult and costly,
    primarily due to the difficulty of returning structural elements to plumb, level, and square
    condition. There will be many judgment calls to be made by appropriate professionals.
    The feasibility of superstructure salvage should be discussed with a qualified contractor.

    - Upon verifying plumb, level, and squareness, the basement and first floor stand a good
    chance of being re-used without problem. Anchorage to concrete must be checked.

    - If the Steel tower is to be re-erected, it must be deemed structurally sound, and a soil capacity
    and foundation investigation be made.

Contact Information

(517) 403-6875 
(517) 403-6875
Postal address:
Structural Solutions LLC
1200 Troon Ct. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546
Electronic mail:

General Information:     ssllc.tp@mail.com

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