Influence of Exterior Cladding on Structural Performance

In my specialty of Construction and Structural Forensics, I often run into the influence of exterior cladding on the structural performance of buildings, particularly with wood frame and cold formed steel structures. Deterioration from water intrusion sometimes reduces the structural capacity to the point of collapse.

Do any of you, as structural engineers, provide any input or specification during the design phase to reduce such damage?

Ron… as an SE, other than water stops in concrete, basement wall waterproofing, and Interstitial mastic for tilt-up walls, no. I leave that to the Architect or designer as I view it as their responsibility. Seldom do have sufficient window, door, flashing information to do that anyway.

Also, professionally, I consider envelope design to be outside my area of expertise, although one of my good SE friends in Seattle is also an expert in the field. Just not my cup of tea. However I am game to fix any structural damage.

To quote a non-SE… “A man has to know his limitations.”

In our company, which performs mostly in the heavy industrial space where aesthetics are of little concern, we include architectural considerations and work within the civil and structural group. The SE of the project ultimately reviews and buys in to the architectural designs and choices made on cladding, etc, before the drawings are issued. It’s a process that makes the most sense with the way we perform our work.

In cases where the client retains an architect separately, which admittedly are rare for us, that scope falls squarely to them. We tend to review their work for constructability rather than adequacy in those situations now that you mention it.