Engineered to Take the Load

As with the a soil test, engineering design for footings & slab and any structural engineering designs are also required as part of the documentation to get your building approval to start construction on your project. We asked Nick Kaoustos, Director of Structural Innovations Australia Pty Ltd to give some insight into engineering and answer the question of why our building designers, as talented as they are cannot undertake this function.


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Back in October we talked with our resident Soil Technician, Ben Mullins of Geo-Serve to better understand the importance of a soil test and the impact the results can have on a project (you can catch up on the article here if you missed it).  Ben discussed how the engineering design is directly affected by the soil test outcomes so we thought we would touch base with one of our engineers, Director of Structural Innovations Australia Pty Ltd Nick Kaoustos to delve deeper (did you see what we did there) into the world of engineering design.

As our main go to engineering guru can you tell us what your technical title is and what does that mean you can do in terms of design?
My Name is Nick Kaoustos and I am the Director of Structural Innovations Australia Pty Ltd.  My Main qualification is a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil). I also have an Advanced Diploma in Civil and Structural Engineering and am a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland and a Chartered Member of the Institute of Engineers Australia on the National register.

My area of expertise is Structures Engineering and I practice as a Consulting Structural Engineer.

In terms of design and certification, my role within a project is to carry out calculations and prepare drawings of structures to ensure they are strong enough to avoid collapse when loaded. The most common structures dealt with are buildings and bridges, but tunnels, walls to hold back earth embankments, large tanks and silos as well as mining structures.

So does that mean you can also design a pool for a client also?
Yes, all pools require engineering design and certification.  It is important that your pool be designed by a suitably qualified engineer to ensure the design is suitable for the site conditions and does not impact on neighbouring structures.

Our client’s often ask why our building designer’s cannot complete engineering design, could you elaborate a little on this.
Each state has different legislations and requires different registrations to enable engineering certification.  In Queensland it is a requirement to be a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) to enable building design certification.  All design drawings must be submitted to a building certifier with a form 15 design certificate signed by a RPEQ engineer to enable approval through local council.

Building designers are generally licensed to provide some general timber framing sizes, bracing calculations and tie down requirements for residential projects up to two stories.  All slab and footing designs must be designed and certified by a suitably qualified engineer.  With most projects these days clients are wanting larger more open planned architecturally designed structures which require engineering input to ensure they can be constructed in a sound and safe manner.

At what point in the process can engineering design commence and why?
This generally depend on the size of the project.  With a small renovation or new house design, the engineering will commence once the client has signed off on the building designers plans to avoid re design works to keep costs down.  On larger residential and commercial projects, it is imperative that the engineer works alongside the building designer/architect to ensure the structure is incorporated into the design to maintain building costs and ensure efficiencies.

We spoke with our soil technician last month and he mentioned that the soil type has direct impact on the engineering design, can you talk about this from an engineer’s perspective?
A soil/geotechnical report provides imperative information to enable an engineer to design the foundations to any structure.  The soil type, hardness and its reactivity is vital information to enable the type, size and depths of the foundations to be determined. If your foundations are not designed correctly, it could lead to future problems with your building, such as excessive settlement of heave, cause unsightly cracking and damage. This information can vary substantially from site to site and can add huge costs to a building project.

Is there ever an instance where you would not require a soil test?
Most new building structures require soil tests and reporting to ensure sound foundation designs.  Smaller renovations such as decks and patio roof extensions generally don’t require soil investigation.

We know that you undertake inspections as part of your work, what do these entail and how are they beneficial?
All structural items within the engineering drawings are required to be inspected by a suitably qualified engineer to enable final building certification.  In Queensland, it is a requirement for an RPEQ engineer to inspect all footings, slabs, columns, concrete and masonry walls prior to a concrete pour or wall core fill.  It is also required that all timber and steel framing, bracing and tie down be inspected and approved prior sheeting walls or loading a roof.  Once inspected and approved on site, the engineer provides a Form 16 for final building approval.  A Form 16 is required for each building element inspected and approved.

We know that  a certifier will require the engineering design as part of the documentation required to issue a building approval, what specific detail do you include that they need to see?

The certifier will require structural documents which detail all structural components of the building, they also require a design certificate signed by a suitably qualified engineer.

Aside from enjoying all the work you do for Cyber’s clients what type of other projects do you enjoy working on (renovations, new builds or commercial)?
I have always said that no project is too big or small to take on, it doesn’t matter the size of a project, there are always challenges and problems to solve with any project.

I have provided structural designs and documentation for many different projects throughout my career, from countless residential renovations, to new builds, commercial car dealerships, showrooms and workshops, education and government buildings, to multi storey residential towers up to 20 stories.

One of my most challenging and rewarding projects I have designed is a two storey Bunning’s Warehouse store in Brisbane.   The project was a design and construct project, where all the consultant team worked alongside the builder to come up with cost effective and efficient designs to ensure the project was constructed on time and within budget.

 

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