Structural Assessment and Forensic Engineering

What is "forensic engineering"? It is defined as "the application of engineering principals and methodologies to answer questions of fact... usually associated with accidents, crimes, catastrophic events, degradation of property and various types of failures. (It) is the application of engineering principles, knowledge, skills and methodologies to answer questions of fact that may have legal ramifications.” (From Stephen E. Petty (PE & CIH), in Forensic Engineering: Damage Assessments for Residential and Commercial Structures, CRC Press, 2013.)

During the assessment of the structural condition of an existing building, Kerotech performs widely recognized material evaluation best practices and procedures. We cover every aspect when evaluating structures and structural material condition. We provide information by using visual inspections and state-of-the-art destructive and nondestructive testing (NDT), including evaluations of concrete, masonry, wood and metal structures. Kerotech also conducts condition surveys, planning and construction material evaluation as well as test data evaluation and interpretation and use of test results. We emphasize the use of NDT techniques─ such as penetrant testing, ultrasonic testing and radiographic testing─ whenever possible when establishing in-place material properties for concrete, masonry, wood and metals.

When conducting structural assessment through forensic engineering, we search for the “root cause” of a building's structural failure. In the pursuit of truth in fact, Kiro Engineering performs a variety of practical services—those that go beyond the scope of academia and instead rely on knowledge and skills gleaned from building trades and codes—for our clients. These include:

Structural assessments and forensic engineering for residential and commercial structures:

  • Wind damage assessments for residential and light commercial exterior finished surfaces, steep-sloped roof systems, and low-sloped roof systems
  • Water infiltration assessments for exterior residential and light commercial building envelopes and basements
  • Attic and crawlspace ventilation assessments
  • Forensic inspection assessments of residential wood framing systems, foundation walls and brick/masonry chimneys and veneers

For walls, porches and decks we perform:

  • Fire damage structural property assessments
  • Vehicle impact structural property assessments
  • Floor sagging and wall-bulging assessments using digital inclinometers
  • Structural stability and safety for porches, decks, balconies, stairs, railings and landings

Forensic foundations and geotechnical engineering for residential and commercial structures :

  • Bearing capacity failures and settlement assessment
  • Sinkholes, lateral and vertical movement and expansive soils evaluation
  • Surface faulting and ground rupture assessments
  • Crack diagnosis including crack mapping and differential settlement evaluation for foundation slabs and foundations walls

Flood Damage Assessments:

  • Moisture migration through floor slabs and basement walls, and dome testing
  • Debris impact structural assessments
  • Flood damage assessments for heat pumps, boilers, refrigerant lines, duct systems and gas furnaces
  • Plaster/drywall, fireplaces, wood stoves and tiles assessment after flood events
  • Electrical service panels inspection after flood events including fuses, breakers and circuit interrupters
  • Garage and carports inspection after flood events including vehicle doors, combustible insulation and fireproofing

Surface and Roof Drainage Evaluation:

  • Lot grading including improper slope, clogged catch basin and erosion control
  • Gutters, flashings and downspouts for sloped roofs and flat roofs

Plumbing assessments for residential and commercial structures:

  • Sewage disposal systems and traps inspection
  • Pipe breaks and clogs assessment

Insurance Appraisals and serving as an expert witness in litigation:

  • Preparing a plan of action for structural repairs, crack sealing and damp proofing
  • Design of foundation walls, helical piles and framing system to support residential and commercial structures
  • Preparing structural and civil blueprints