Back to Previous

Technical Guidance Notes (Level 1)

The Institution's Technical Guidance Notes have been conceived to provide technical guidance to both undergraduates and those in the early stages of their careers.

Experienced Technicians may also find these notes helpful when looking to develop a greater understanding of structural design.

The notes are intended to be easily accessible and to form the foundation of a personal technical reference library.

Level 1 aims to provide sound foundations from which design skills can be developed, by focusing on basic structural engineering fundamentals.

Articles in this series

The Structural Engineer

An introduction to the series from the Institution's former Director: Engineering and Technical Services, Sarah Fray.

Publish Date ‐ 1 January 2012

The Structural Engineer

An introduction to the core design concepts found within current UK codes of practice.

Publish Date ‐ 1 January 2012

The Structural Engineer

Dead loads (permanent actions) are defined as the weight of static materials contained with a structure. This includes the self weight of the structure as well as the fixed materials it is supporting.

Publish Date ‐ 1 January 2012

The Structural Engineer

There are several variations and conditions the designer must be aware of when determining wind loads on structures. Based on Eurocode 1: Actions on Structures Part 1-4; General Actions – Wind Actions, this note draws on the UK National Annex as it makes reference to wind speeds that are unique to the UK.

Publish Date ‐ 1 February 2012

The Structural Engineer

Imposed loads (quasi-permanent variable actions) are defined as loads that are applied to the structure. 

Updated October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 1 February 2012

The Structural Engineer

Notional loading (equivalent horizontal forces) are loads resulting from inaccuracies and imperfections introduced into the structure during its construction. This note explains how notional lateral loads are incorporated into the design process.

Updated October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 1 March 2012

The Structural Engineer

There are several variations and conditions the designer must be aware of when determining snow loads onto structures. Based on Eurocode 1: Actions on Structures Part 1-3; General Actions – Snow Loads this note draws on the UK National Annex as it makes reference to projected snow falls that are typical in the UK.

Updated October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 1 March 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note concerns lateral loads that are applied to barriers, and wheel axle loads from vehicles. 

Publish Date ‐ 1 April 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note concerns the assessment of loads that apply to retaining structures, typically generated from soil. These forces primarily come into play during the design of retaining wall structures, but they can also be found in water-retaining structures and storage vessels.

Updated October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 2 May 2012

The Structural Engineer

It is essential for structural engineers to be able to express their ideas clearly through their designs. This note describes two common techniques used to draw in three dimensions.

Publish Date ‐ 2 May 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note is an introduction to the assessment of floor vibrations - a frequently overlooked aspect of the design process. Floor vibrations can lead to expensive remedial works, as occupants complain of discomfort due to excessive movement.

Updated October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 2 July 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note explains the various methods adopted to ensure lateral stability and robustness in structures.

 

Publish Date ‐ 2 July 2012

The Structural Engineer

In many cases, reinforced concrete drawings are more diagrammatic than their general arrangement counterparts and carry with them their own unique set of rules and nomenclature. 

This note does not cover the rules governing detailing of reinforced concrete. 

Publish Date ‐ 2 August 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note is split into two sections; the first contains information a designer of steel elements provides, while the second contains information a fabricator creates in order to manufacture and construct the steel structure. While one feeds into the other, the level of detail each set of information provides is very different, due primarily to the end result. One is informing the manufacture of the steelwork, while the other focuses on its installation.

Publish Date ‐ 2 August 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note is a good practice guide for analysing and designing structures. It explains how structures are given form, modelled, analysed and designed. Mention is made of the need to rationalise the analysis process, but not at the expense of an economic design.

Publish Date ‐ 31 August 2012

The Structural Engineer

Moment distribution is a method by which statically indeterminate structures are analysed elastically. It’s based on the relative stiffness of elements, and shifts bending moments from one section of the structure to another until they become balanced. Once this balance has been achieved, forces and bending moments are modelled.

Updated in October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 31 August 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note explains how steel elements are restrained against buckling and what the structural engineer should consider when analysing steel structures with respect to buckling resistance.

Publish Date ‐ 26 September 2012

The Structural Engineer

Once the concept and scheme design has been determined, initial sizing of elements commences. This note shows how to size elements, prior to detailed design. This process allows the engineer to gain an appreciation of structural form.

Publish Date ‐ 26 September 2012

The Structural Engineer

When designing foundations (from a simple pad footing to a pile cap) there is a need to determine the soil's bearing capacity. This note explains the principles of how this is determined, and how it impacts on foundation design.

Publish Date ‐ 26 October 2012

The Structural Engineer

One of the most common structural elements, these are normally found in residential properties, but also in medium-sized commercial developments. This note explains the principles behind their design and provides a worked example. In accordance with BS EN 1995-1-1 Eurocode 5: Design of Timber Structures – Part 1-1: General – Common rules and rules for buildings.

Updated in October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 26 October 2012

The Structural Engineer

The twisting of elements within structures due to eccentric loading is best avoided. Such actions develop torsion forces - which the elements were not designed to withstand. This note shows structural engineers how to avoid problems that can lead to significant remedial works and/or failures.

Publish Date ‐ 30 November 2012

The Structural Engineer

The chosen form of any substructure is entirely dependent on what the site investigations reveal. It is typically up to the structural engineer, with the aid of geotechnical engineers and specialists, to determine the extent of this investigation and interpret its results.

Publish Date ‐ 30 November 2012

The Structural Engineer

This note describes the concept of biaxial bending in columns of any material, as well as the effect direct bending has on column design. 

Publish Date ‐ 12 January 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note describes the different types of pile, the design concepts employed when determining their size and depth, how they are constructed and the various tests that can be carried out to assess a pile's integrity.

Publish Date ‐ 1 February 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note describes how prestressed precast concrete planks are constructed, specified and installed.

Publish Date ‐ 27 February 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note discusses the concept of fatigue and how its effects can be countered.

Publish Date ‐ 26 March 2013

The Structural Engineer

An understanding of what causes concrete to crack is important when inspecting new works or existing structures.

Publish Date ‐ 1 May 2013

The Structural Engineer

The three forms of masonry are brick, concrete block and stone. This note introduces the first two as they are the most common. Used as a form of cladding - at least for concrete and steel-framed structures in the UK -  loadbearing structural masonry is still in use, and employed in the construction of low-rise buildings and soil-retaining structures.

Publish Date ‐ 1 June 2013

The Structural Engineer

The technology behind post-fix anchors is increasingly complex. This note provides some clarity around the multitude of options that can be presented to a designer required to specify anchors.

Publish Date ‐ 25 June 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note pays particular attention to partial factors with reference to BS EN 1990: Eurocode – Basis of structural design, to illustrate how extreme events are approached, and explains how the code interprets the application of loads (actions) for such events.

Publish Date ‐ 25 June 2013

The Structural Engineer

An introduction to groundbearing floor slabs, touching on the slabs' reinforcement by considering both historical use of mesh as well as plastic and steel fibre reinfocement methods.

Publish Date ‐ 1 August 2013

The Structural Engineer

When developing a scheme, the choice of floor slab construction is critical to the columns, foundations, walls and overall stability. As such, the floor slab’s form should be selected with care and consideration.

Updated in October 2016.

Publish Date ‐ 1 September 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note describes the basic knowledge required to read structural drawings.

Publish Date ‐ 1 September 2013

The Structural Engineer

Guidance on the various forms of retaining walls currently in use. This note is primarily concerned with structures that retain soil.

Publish Date ‐ 1 October 2013

The Structural Engineer

This note explains the basic principles of below ground drainage for both surface and foul water. It describes the different types of drainage pipe available, their installation and interface with structure, and their testing and maintenance.

Publish Date ‐ 3 February 2014

The Structural Engineer

This note is an introduction to glass as a structural material. It describes glass in terms of its properties, how it reacts when subjected to various forces, and the design methods being explored by structural engineers.

Publish Date ‐ 28 February 2014