Tips & Tricks

Pool Pergola at Morningside

We just signed the Form 16 inspection certificate for our pool pergola project at Morningside.

Project Team

The team involved in this lovely project were:

Proudly built by Whitehouse Builders.

Proudly designed by Tim Glass Design.

Structural engineering design by Jenny Bae.

Construction phase inspections by Rachel Tsang.

Pool pergola structural framing in place
A private pool pergola.

Pool Pergola Construction Photos

Have a look at our little Youtube video prepared from a series of photos taken during construction.

Design Background and Philosophy

This pool pergola project came into being when Brisbane builder, David Whitehouse, sent Cornell Engineers a set of landscaping plans by Tim Glass.

The request was simple, please provide design and a Form 15 design certificate for this pool pavilion including footings, blockwork walls and timber roof framing.

Our quote was accepted in May 2021 and we started on the design drawings straight away.

Our design process for smaller structures like pool pergolas doesn’t vary much from the process we use for larger buildings: determine the loads (live loads, wind loads and dead loads), calculate the forces, size the structural members, determine appropriate connection details and then document our requirements in an easy-to-read set of plans generated with the latest version of AutoCad Lt (the 2d version of AutoCad).

Our pdf drawing set was issued to Dave Whitehouse by the end of May – well within our self-imposed timeframe of four weeks turnaround. (See a sample set of drawings issued by Cornell Engineers).

Construction started almost immediately after building certifier approval was obtained.

Our first construction phase inspection was a footing inspection to confirm that the bored piers were excavated to the appropriate depth.

Footings are the critical element in maintaining the stability of a structure so we take special care to ensure the footings are deep enough and fonded into firm soil – we don’t want any of our structures moving around in unexpected ways.

Our second site inspection was to check the Besser block concrete masonry wall reinforcement had been built into the wall as specified on our drawings. The Besser block wall relies heavily on vertical and horizontal wall reinforcement to ensure the wind loads on the wall are transferred safely to the footings. We specify all cores to be filled which means all of the voids in the concrete masonry wall are filled with concrete – that makes the wall exceedingly strong and durable.

The final construction phase inspeciton was the timber frame inspection. Even for a pool pergola, it is critical that the timber framing is well built and complies with the structural engineering drawings. Our in-person inspections by Rachel check all of the critical load paths prior to the framing being covered up with roof cladding.

The finished pool pergola product will be a peaceful place for pool pondering!

If you would like a pool pavilion or a peaceful place of your own, contact specialist builder Dave Whitehouse or Cornell Engineers and let’s get your project started!

Tips & Tricks

Renovation Project at The Gap

We just signed the final Form 16 inspection certificate for our building renovation and extension project at The Gap today.

Project Team

The team involved in this lovely project were:

Proudly built by Next Level Construction Queensland

Proudly designed by Matt Esler at MR Designs.

Structural engineering proudly provided by Rachel Tsang and the team at Cornell Engineers.

Soil testing by Apod Soil Testing.

The Renovation Story

This house renovation story began for Cornell Engineers in 2019 when the homeowners approached us to quote their garage, deck and renovation project.

The enquiry was fairly typical of the email enquiries we get every day:

I am seeking a quote to engineer draftsman’s plans for a small renovation/extension.

Of course, the team at Cornell Engineers was only too happy to help. We quoted the job straight away.

A lot of house extension jobs like this one need a soil test so our engineers can design the footings to suit the site (see our post on “What is a soil test“). So a part of our quote on this occasion was to arrange ad pay for a site classification from a local firm of soil testers. We don’t charge extra to arrange a soil test – we just prefer to know that our clients are being cared for by a company that we know and trust.

One of the questions the client asked us when they received our quote was, “Does your fee include site inspection during construction?”

This is a very good question and one that most home renovators will want to know the answer to.

The answer is that our design fee does not include site inspections during construction. The reason is that most homeowners don’t know when their job will go ahead. They certainly don’t know how many times their builder is going to arrange for an engineer’s site inspection.

So we prefer to provide a cost per inspection in our quote – but it isn’t charged until the inspections are carried out. You don’t want to pay for a site inspection that may not even happen, do you?

Once we have our client’s authorisation to proceed, things really start to pick up. We organise the soil test, request dwg files from the building designer and arrange for our preliminary site inspection to review the existing structure.

Some people think a preliminary inspection by an engineer should happen before the building designer is engaged. Most of the building designers we work with are very clever and experienced and know a troubled structure when they see one. We normally don’t need to inspect a building until the building designer’s drawings are complete. it’s just easier that way.

Once we have the soil test, dwg files and photos from our preliminary site inspection, structural engineering design can start in the office.

The structural engineer that attended site to take the photos is nearly always the one doing the engineering calculations and drawings. Who better to put a comprehensive set of drawings together that show exactly what work needs to be done, how it is connected, member sizes and special aspects all in one neat set of pdf drawings.

Once they are complete our engineering drawings are thoroughly reviewed by an RPEQ registered professional engineer in Queensland. All of the aspects and assumptions and calculations are checked and the drawings are checked to ensure as many site issues as possible are resolved while the job is still imaginary.

Finally, our drawings are issued to our client with a Form 15 design certificate and an easy to pay invoice (we accept BPay, direct transfers and credit card payments).

Next we wait.

The homeowner takes the reigns and we structural engineers wait.

We recommend that homeowners find a builder that they like, can work with and feel that they can trust. This is one of the most important relationships you’ll form in your life and it needs to be a careful decision.

Then, with the builder signed up the construction can start.

Cornell Engineers carries out many construction phase inspections each week. We simply ask if you need us on your site that we receive at least 24 hours notice of an inspection. We can often attend site with less notice, but we’d hate to hold up construction if we have too many bookings to attend when you need us.

That’s it.

That’s how this project went together. The builder did a nice job. The building designer did their thing. We loved the outcome and we loved working with these clients!

Now please check out our photos.

Building Renovation Photos

Have a look at our series of photos of how this renovation project progressed through construction.

Tips & Tricks

Chelmer House Renovation

Peek inside this structural house renovation project in Chelmer, Brisbane to see how it started and how it progressed through construction.

A big thank you to all of the people involved in this project:

How to Plan Your Home Renovation

Check out our article on how to plan your home renovation project for some great ideas on where to start ad how to plan your home renovation project:

Photos of this Chelmer house renovation project

Tips & Tricks

Spot the Problem

Just some of the Spot the Problem photos that we’ve helped solve. Have you got a problem you think we can solve? Give us a call.

Spot the Problem 1
Should we move the stairs or move the door??
Wet it up, boys. A wet concrete mix is easy to spread and easy to work (who cares if it cracks like anything tomorrow!)
Tips & Tricks

How to Cyberstalk a Queensland Property Like a Pro

This is our secret list of tips for how to cyberstalk a property in Queensland like a structural engineering professional.

This simply marvellous list of resources will help you find (just about) all you need to know about a (Queensland) property you own or are interested in buying.