Boatwright Building Consultants, Inc. brings the highest quality engineering services to our clients. In addition to Civil Engineering, we also hold General Engineering and General Building contractor’s licenses. Don Boatwright is a registered Professional Engineer and has been practicing structural building design and forensic building investigation since 1972. A registered Professional Engineer (“P.E.”), at a minimum, must have completed a four-year college-accredited program in engineering, worked four or more years upon graduation under the direct supervision of a P.E., and passed two days (16 hours) of licensing exams. Just as a law school graduate is not a lawyer unless they pass the bar, an engineering graduate that has not met the experience requirement and passed the licensing exams may not use the title of engineer.

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Structural Inspections

Our engineering services include property site investigations that provide a Professional Engineering opinion of the structure and integrity of a building. While other than a Professional Engineer may report on the presence of potential building defects, only a registered Professional Engineer, or in some cases an Architect, may consider and make judgment on the significance of these conditions. It is a misdemeanor for anyone else to provide such an opinion.

The focus of our structural inspections is the stability and soundness of the distinct structural components and elements that form a building. We assess quality of construction, identify, and classify existing symptoms that suggest a structural defect, confirm if identified conditions are problematic, and if problematic, provide recommendations for needed correction. Both existing and potential problems are evaluated.

Following are common conditions that may indicate an existing or potential structural problem:

  • cracks, shifting or movement at foundation walls
  • cracks at floor slabs
  • movement at other foundation elements
  • undermining at or near foundation elements
  • foundation components too near a slope or the soil edge
  • exterior and/or interior wall cracks
  • bulging at exterior or interior wall finish media
  • ceiling cracks
  • out-of-square wall openings
  • floors out-of-level and/or walls out-of-plumb
  • ceiling deflection
  • roof deflection
  • damage at framing members

We also provide engineering site investigations for:

  • structural modifications done without permit such as the removal of a bearing wall, adding a wall opening, etc.
  • fire damage
  • earthquake damage
  • wind damage
  • retaining walls
  • masonry chimneys

The written report of our findings includes photographic documentation of identified conditions and is written in laymen terms, so it is easy to read and understand. This document presents our professional opinion and is accepted by Building Authorities, lenders, insurance companies, real estate firms, and appraisers. The report is delivered as a PDF document via email and can also be downloaded for 90 days from our web portal.

Engineering Design Services

BOATWRIGHT prides itself on bringing the highest quality engineering services to our clients. We are licensed Civil Engineers, and also hold General Engineering and General Building contractor’s licenses. We work with building owners, architects, and contractors providing structural analyses and design for single-family dwellings, multifamily dwellings, and commercial projects.

No two jobs are ever alike, so we approach each project with a fresh perspective based on our decades of experience. Our goal is to provide creative options from which you can choose and select the appropriate design for your unique situation.

Our engineering services include but are not limited to:

  • Foundation design
  • Wood-framed design
  • Steel-framed design
  • Masonry design
  • Poured-in-place concrete design
  • Concrete tilt-up design
  • Seismic resisting system
  • Retaining wall design
  • Commercial signs for wind load
  • Structural repair plans
  • Evaluation of existing roof structures for added load (e.g., HVAC equipment, solar panels, etc.)
  • Evaluation of structures damaged by earthquake, flood, fires, landslides, etc.

Probable Maximum Loss (PML) Study

A Probable Maximum Loss (PML) seismic risk study provides an estimate of damage to a building when it is subjected to earthquake ground shaking. The damage estimate, or PML value, is expressed as a percentage of the total replacement cost of the building. These assessments are used by mortgage brokers to make lending decisions, insurance brokers to rate assessments, and building owners to make seismic retrofit plans.

ASTM standards require that PML assessments be provided by a licensed civil or structural engineer. The engineer should be familiar with building seismic design, have post-earthquake reconnaissance experience, and a detailed familiarity with and working knowledge of ASCE 31 “Seismic Evaluation of Existing Buildings” and ASCE 41 “Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings”. BOATWRIGHT has been providing seismic building design, evaluations, and post-earthquake reconnaissance since 1972.

Our PML reports are prepared using the guidelines contained in ASTM 2026 “Standard Guide for Seismic Risk Assessment of Buildings” and ASTM 2557 “Standard Practice for Probable Maximum Loss (PML) Evaluations for Earthquake Due-Diligence Assessments”. These guides provide a uniform approach and a standard of care for the evaluation and classification of risks from earthquake damage. The guides, however, do not specify the methodology that should be used.

There are several methods for estimating seismic damage costs to buildings. One of these is the Thiel-Zsutty method. While considered a good approach for PML assessments, Thiel-Zsutty was first published in 1987 and has not been updated to take into account advances made in construction practices and the understanding of building behavior following major earthquakes that have occurred worldwide subsequent to its publication. Because of this, and due to a potential for imprecision associated with a variable in the Thiel-Zsutty formula, we do not use this method.

The BOATWRIGHT Probable Maximum Loss analysis is generated using ST-Risk™, proprietary state-of-the-art software that employs advanced computer modeling technology. ST-Risk™ uses the most current data available, considers a building’s unique strengths and weaknesses that are essential to seismic resilience, the building’s proximity to earthquake faults, the effects of local soil conditions, and integrates over tens of thousands of earthquake motions and variable potential damage to a structure. This generates an estimate of damage that most accurately reflects actual reported losses from earthquakes.

HUD Seismic Risk Assessment

The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has specific requirements for seismic risk assessments for HUD backed projects. A HUD seismic assessment must comply with ASCE 31 and is performed in accordance with the requirements set forth in HUD 223(f) Appendix D, Paragraph A, “Seismic Resistance for Substantial Rehabilitation and Existing Projects”. It requires engineering input and design, and is much more exhaustive than a PML damageability study.

HUD seismic risk assessments are comprised of a Tier 1 Evaluation (the Screening Phase), Tier 2 Evaluation (the Evaluation Phase), and Tier 3 Evaluation (the Detailed Evaluation Phase). A licensed civil or structural engineer experienced in seismic design must perform this work and, as with PML assessments, the engineer should have post-earthquake reconnaissance experience and a detailed familiarity with and working knowledge of ASCE 31.

The Tier 1 Evaluation begins with a site visit and is used to verify existing data, collect additional data, determine the general condition of the structure(s), and verify or assess site conditions. This phase of the evaluation process is used to identify buildings that comply with the provisions of ASCE 31. When the Tier 1 Evaluation identifies a non-compliant issue, BOATWRIGHT uses appropriate provisions from ASCE 31 to determine if the building is deficient. In most cases, a “Deficiency-Only” Tier 2 Evaluation that addresses only the deficiencies is needed. In some situations, however, a full building analysis and Tier 3 Evaluation are needed.

ASCE 31 provides several means to achieve compliance when an assessment yields noncompliance. When compliance cannot be achieved, however, our report recommends rehabilitation measures for full ASCE 31 conformance and the estimated cost for this work to help building owners make retrofit plans.