Bucket Lists for Structural Engineers and Some Resources for Helping Cross Post-Frame off Your List

Bucket lists are mentioned regularly today, which got me to thinking  – what about a bucket list for structural engineers? ASCE and others have put together lists of engineering wonders of the modern world, so those seem like a good start for sights to see. But for a practitioner, I’d propose the next most obvious things to add would be working with each of the common structural building materials and system types. For engineers working with buildings, the “list” would include the various types of steel, concrete, wood and masonry materials, and then the different respective building systems.

Maybe this list can also offer a refreshing perspective when you’re wading into uncharted territory; a new material or system presents the chance to cross another item off your list! For most engineers, I would guess a post-frame building will be one of the final remaining items on their list. Post-frame is rightly known for its historical origins in agricultural buildings; however, today there is more developed design information, and post-frame buildings are being built for many different uses. If you do find yourself looking at post-frame for the first time, there are a few resources to be aware of that can help guide and inform your experience.

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Post-frame buildings comprise a primary framing system of wood roof trusses or rafters that are supported by large solid-sawn or laminated lumber columns. The secondary roof purlins and wall girts support the roof and wall sheathing. The columns are either embedded into the ground or anchored to concrete piers, walls or slabs. The buildings offer efficiency in materials, construction time and costs, and energy. An engineer can design a post-frame building in compliance with the IBC, with allowances for high-wind and seismic conditions.

Two free resources that are good starting points for an engineer considering post-frame are the American Wood Council’s Design for Code Acceptance (DCA5) – Post Frame Buildings, and the Post-Frame Construction Guide by the National Frame Building Association (NFBA). The DCA5 gives a brief overview of the pertinent section of the IBC that relates to post-frame. The Post-Frame Construction Guide is a 20-page document that describes the components of a post-frame system, fire performance, examples of common details and different building uses, and a summary of resources for additional information.

A manual for purchase that is an excellent resource is the NFBA’s Post-Frame Building Design Manual – Second Edition. The manual presents a comprehensive scope of content including sections on code provisions, guidance for design, diaphragm design, post design and foundation design. Lesser-known IBC-referenced standards that are commonly utilized in post-frame, such as ASABE EP 484.2 for diaphragm design and ASABE EP 486.1 for shallow post foundation design, are covered by the manual.

What do you think of the idea of a bucket list for structural engineers? Would you already be able to cross off post-frame building from your list? Let us know by posting a comment.

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