Author: Gerry Bollman

Lego

Back in 2016 we did a series of eBits that looked at different individual systems of your building. Systems like foundations, structural systems, HVAC, etc. We are doing a “THROW-BACK” to that series. We hope your enjoy them again, but most of all we hope you find them informative.

My grandson loves his Lego building blocks. I think it is the idea of taking component members, which are of standard shapes designed to fit together, and creating a building, a car, a town. Sure he could take a pile of 2×4’s, a saw and a hammer to build what is in his mind, but why do that when you have pre-engineered pieces that can be put together. This is the idea behind the Pre-Engineered Metal Building (PEMB) system.

Metal building systems have been around since the mid-20th century, but it was in the ‘70’s that pre-engineering the components became widely accepted.  With today’s computer design and drafting software the PEMB industry has become less “standard component” and much more “project specific component” oriented. What has not changed over the years is the fact that the PEMB components (main frames, roof purlins, wall girts, bracing, siding and roof) are designed as a complete system working together to resist dead, live, wind, and seismic loading conditions. This provides an efficient buildable design.

Here are three FAQ about PEMB systems from our clients:

What are the advantages to a PEMB?:  Because a PEMB is designed & fabricated with pre-engineered components the delivery schedule and cost are generally less.

When is a PEMB most efficient?: When it is used for a low rise (one to two story) building, when you have large clear span conditions and/or when all the components (main frames, roof purlins, wall girts, bracing, siding and roof) are part of the project.

How long will a PEMB last?: Just as long as any conventionally designed building. Remember a PEMB needs to have continual maintenance just like any conventionally built building.

The PEMB system is not for every project, but it has proven itself to be a viable option in the design and build industry. Give us a call; we would look forward to sitting down with you to talk about what building structural system would be best for your next project.

Below the Waterline

Several years back we did a series of eBits that looked at different individual building systems that make your facility work. Systems like foundations, structural systems, HVAC, etc. We are doing a “THROW-BACK” to that series over these next several weeks. We hope your enjoy them again, but most of all we hope you find them informative.

The story is told about Michael Plant, a single-handed yachtsman, who took off on a solo crossing of the North Atlantic Ocean. He left New York Harbor in his yacht “The Coyote” with its teak wood decks, brass railings, and stately mast & sails. It was a magnificent sight, but two weeks into the voyage something went awry. The Coyote was found by a crew of a freighter capsized without the 8,400 lb. lead bulb that should have been attached to the keel. Plant died, not because his boat did not look great above the waterline, but because the weight below the waterline failed.

It is always what is below the water line, that which is unseen, that supports that which is seen. This is true for building foundations just as it is true for sailboats. So what steps should be taken as you design and build the foundation system of your next project?

Know your Site Conditions:  All buildings rest on soil that is below the surface. Since each building site is unique in terms of specific geological conditions, each foundation system presents unique design problems on how the building and ground interact. This is why it is important that subsurface investigation be completed by soil borings or excavated test pits.

Select a foundation system specific to your building: One size does not fit all. Foundation systems can be shallow continual or isolated footings (less than 5’ deep) or grade beams supported by driven or augered piles. Generally foundation systems are of cast-in-place concrete with steel reinforcing, designed to support loading conditions from the superstructure above (that which is seen).

Perform continual inspections & testing during construction: Subsurface soil conditions can vary greatly across a building site. This fact makes it imperative that continual inspections and testing be performed during construction to assure that the soil conditions, foundation detailing and concrete strength are in compliance with the certified documents.

Just as Michael Plant’s story tells us that a sail boat without the proper ballast will capsize, a building without a properly designed and detailed foundation will surely fail. The foundation of a building is one of the most important systems of a building project because it is so very difficult to repair if it fails. Give us a call, we would look forward to designing what is not seen” on your next project so what is seen” stands for a long time.

Stating the Obvious

I love the saying, “You did a good job of stating the obvious”, and I use it often. Of course when others hear it being said about them, they agree that they were rather insightful.

What seems obvious to me is that people are looking for that one convenient spot where they can go to get their needs met. This became evident when we got a call from a potential client that was looking to open a new rock climbing gym. He knew where he wanted to be located, he knew what services he would be providing and he knew what customers he would be targeting. These were all obvious to him, but the things that were not obvious were the things he did not know. Things like, would the space he was looking to lease meet his needs? What are the regulatory code requirements for him to open? What is the construction cost of the tenant improvements? These are all things he needed for his business plan. After asking some questions and thinking through the answers we were able to help him.

When you are looking for that “one spot” of help on your next project, find someone who can…

  • Assess your facility needs and match them to a facility.
  • Help you through the regulatory mine field.
  • Design a buildable project that reflects you and your needs.
  • Implement your project, on time and on budget.

PDMi can do all these things. There I go again stating the obvious, we hope it’s obvious to you. Give us a call if we can be of any help.

New Life for Old Buildings

With the myriad of state & local regulations, it can be a frustrating and expensive process to re-purpose a historic structure so it can be used again. PDMi has had the privilege of helping guide several clients through such a journey for the interior & exterior renovation of older buildings in downtown Fort Wayne. Together with our clients we have solved…

  • Building Code issues for Changes In Use
  • Limitations of existing structural systems
  • How to create new interior layouts incorporating existing constraints
  • Bring tired facades back to life

By providing design, engineering and code consulting, we have been able to deliver innovative and cost effective solutions to the construction process and construction code compliance challenges that typically plague this type of project.

We believe that if at all possible, these great older buildings should be saved and put to good productive use once again. However, the current regulatory climate of our society can make re-use very difficult at best, and sometimes not economically feasible. Let PDMi meet your next project’s unique challenges with Innovative wisdom and guide you through this maze. We look forward to your call.

Two Bosses…

Well summer is just about “officially” over! I know Labor Day has always been the day that marks the end of summer activities, but let’s face it, as soon as school starts summer is behind us. Back when I was a kid, school did not start until after Labor Day, so Labor Day marked that transition from summer to fall.

The end of summer means that pulling my two granddaughters tubing is done for 2020. I love watching them have a ball riding the wake and getting tossed around like rag dolls. All that fun will need to wait until next year. The one thing I have learned over the years is that no two tube rides are ever the same. But one thing is always the same; when my two granddaughters are riding together – you have two bosses. Madelyn is always giving the thumbs up (go faster) while Kathryn is holding on for dear life. The look on Kathryn’s face says “not so rough”. In the end, they have a blast and always want to go again. I love them both, but deciding who to listen to is always a challenge.

I was thinking that this is a lot like many of our projects that have two bosses. The question is: How do you manage to keep both bosses moving in the same direction, on the same schedule and with the same goals? We have found using the 3C’s (Collaboration, Compromise and Communication) is an effective process to keep a project moving to a successful completion.

  • Collaboration: Find the things you agree on and then agree on them!
  • Compromise: Identify the things you do not agree on; roll up your sleeves, go to work to find a compromise you both can live with.
  • Communication: Develop a process to keep all the stakeholders in the loop; be diligent to use the process and always be respectful of other ideas.

Having multiple bosses on a project is not a bad thing. But having multiple bosses going two different directions can make a building project much more difficult. By collaborating, compromising and communicating, your next project can be a success. If we can be of help, give me a call.