Existing Structures: Assessing Your Options

It is not uncommon for existing sites and structures to change their use or purpose.

Whether it’s turning an existing industrial wool shed into residential apartments or changing a retail tenant into a gym, the revised floor loadings must be considered to ensure the structural integrity is maintained.

Floor loads may be in the form of concentrated point loads or uniform floor loads and each will require specific attention. Some simple steps that must be considered for localised loads are:

  1. Determine if the load can be located adjacent a supporting wall or column to avoid floor strengthening.
  2. Assess the existing loads and advise a clear spacing around the new load. This may avoid floor strengthening.

If steps 1 and 2 cannot be achieved, additional measures such as carbon fibre strengthening or new steel beams may be required.

For large zones, some simple steps to consider are:

  • Assess the existing structure to see if any additional loading capacity may be achieved.
  • Allow for strengthening under the existing structures. This needs to be coordinated between consultants to ensure head clearance is still achieved and there will be no clashes with services.

If clearance or services are an issue, alternative options such as pouring an additional concrete slab on top of the existing to act compositely may be reviewed.

MPN are regularly involved in upgrading existing structures such as retail floors for additional loading (gyms and supermarkets) or carpark slabs for truck access. Review of existing heritage buildings for alternative use is also commonly undertaken.

MPN has over 40 years’ experience in Civil and Structural Engineering and can advise on economical ways to future-proof floors by designing flexibility during the initial construction.

Author: Joshua Lehmann – Senior Structural Engineer.