Loads on a Building

By Brian Ki, P.E. | January 14, 2021

Structural engineers design buildings to withstand loads of all types. The building’s frame must be designed to withstand a combination of all those loads with some being more present than others, such as snow or seismic, depending on the geographic region of the building. The most common loads we address within New Hampshire and Massachusetts are described below.

Dead Loads: Vertical forces incurred due to the “dead” weight of the building’s materials
Examples: Asphalt shingles, framing, granite countertops

Live Loads: Vertical forces generated through mobile people and/or objects
Examples: People, furniture, vehicles

Snow Loads: Vertical forces due to snow fall

Wind Loads: Lateral forces exerting positive and negative pressures on a building due to air flow and movement.

Seismic Loads: Lateral loads experienced through vibrations often caused by an earthquake.

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