Engineered, what does it really mean? Wenatchee Home Inspection Services

Home Inspector with NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Engineered, what does it really mean? Wenatchee Home Inspection Services

In the abstract engineering is an exercise in how close to the cliff’s edge we can go with some acceptable risk and safety factor for as little expense as possible. Too close to the cliff then failure happens at an unacceptable point of risk and cost saving are lost.

                                         Engineering- Close to the cliff's edge

The majority of what we use and live in our modern society has been engineered or use prescriptive principles based on some set of assumptions and tolerances from an engineered aspect. Okay if you live in a mud hut you are exempt from this example. But you are most likely not reading this anyway.

Structural engineering deals with the design and analysis of structures used to support loads in the most economical manner, with maximum element of safety.  

So in lay terms means… how can we build it as cheaply as possible so it will stand for some designated timeframe and reach that acceptable risk factor.

Now engineering is not a magic wand. And it cannot account for everything in the real world. It is still too hard to model all of nature and human effects on things, still too many variables to account for. But with some well thought out assumptions we can do a pretty good job of it, lowering the risk.

                                                        Notre Dame

We love to look back with rosy glasses and admire how the ancients have constructed these marvels that lasted so long. But what we do not think of are those structures that did not last.                     

Structural engineering has been used for a very long time. Some of the greatest ancient structures were the Pyramids that were constructed in the 26th century BC. Theoretical and analytical knowledge about the structures was limited, and construction techniques were based on experience and past failures. The “oops that did not work and why… let’s try again analysis” (this is a very important engineering principle). Failure is a great teacher.

As our building materials change and our architects think up new ideas that proverbial cliff is always being approached, some with success and unfortunately some with failure.

Proper execution and installation of these materials is more critical. Analysis and time will tell how well we are doing.  

Most current residential structures are built (engineered) to last about 50 years and maintenance will have a major effect on this number. This is where a professional home inspection will help guide the homeowner in evaluating the home as well as providing some insight and education into building materials and practices.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
Albert Einstein

NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Orville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…       

Your Wenatchee and Chelan Professional Home and Structural Pest Inspection Service

Comments (3)

Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Well said Don---can you imagine if they engineered gum wrong and your teeth stuck together?  Engineering is VERY important for this reason---and others :)

Apr 18, 2012 12:36 PM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Charlie, Thanks. Imagine though that the gum was properly engineered and then someone did not like the look or installed the ingredients wrong and the lock jaw event happened? Sound familiar?

Apr 19, 2012 12:34 AM
Richard Warden

>Most current residential structures are built (engineered) to last about 50 years and maintenance will have a major effect on this number. 

- Is that based on any hard research or references or is it a personal rough estimate?

Aug 20, 2012 06:12 AM