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Structural Integrity

Do you have a simple guide to allow a lay-person to assess whether a building affected by earthquake is safe to re-occupy?


I am a chartered engineer (CEng MICE) but practice as a Structural Engineer.

I think there is a quite a risk if a non engineer makes an assessment such as this. In our experience, non engineers find it hard to look at cracking in context and are either too cavalier or not concerned enough. I would imagine a guide could be worked up, but it would need to be treated with caution.

We would be able to do some inspections for very modest costs is appropriate. E.g. just for the cost of covering a flight.

Kind regards


Ruth Haynes gravatar imageRuth Haynes ( 2015-05-01 15:30:37 )

Ruth I completely support your view ... our mails have crossed. My recommendation for immediate results is to tap into NSET (National Society for Earthquake Technology) in Nepal who distinguished themselves after the the Pakistan earthquake as a partner to UN Habitat. Also always glad to assist. Chris Nixon (CEng, IntPE, Eur Ing)

chrisnixon gravatar imagechrisnixon ( 2015-05-02 07:05:54 )

4 Answers



Dear Morgan, I have downloaded a file :BRE Digest 251 1995 which I hope will help you. Please keep in touch so we may be able to help you more with any specifics.

Good Luck

Pauline RedR

Harriette Purchas

Dear Morgan

There is not a simple guide as this is a difficult and technical subject. The NSET website at (National Society for Earthquake Technology - Nepal) does give some useful information and guidelines but these should be applied only by technically skilled people. Some basic principles apply but they are dependent on the form of construction. Some training like a FEMA course is needed. Qualified personnel are being deployed to Nepal but I appreciate that with the scale of the event you may not be able to access them immediately.

RedR is endeavouring to provide a network of skilled resource to the response. Please do post specific questions to us here on KnowledgePoint with photographs if possible and we will hope to give some guidance through our RedR Experts network.

Regards Harriette


Dear Ruth,

In response to another query we had some perhaps useful contacts, I have copied some below but please review our other related query and please ask us regarding specific situations, we are here to help as best we can, I am sorry we cannot offer more at this time, and of course GOOD LUCK! Pauline

There appears to be a Logistics Cluster in operation in Kathmandu, website - key people and contacts are:

Baptiste Burgaud Email: (Logistics Cluster Coordinator)

Edmondo Perrone (Logistics Officer) Email: Phone: +977 9860982044

To request logistics information, please contact: Email:

Chiara Argenti (Information Management Officer) Email: Phone: +977 9860982045

For service requests, please contact: Email: I know Emergency Architects ( ho do excellent work in assessing buildings to allow (or not) the safe return of occupants.

I can't put you in touch with any engineers, but for reconstruction, are you aware of Nepal National Building Code 203: 1994 Guidelines For Earthquake Resistant Building Construction: Low Strength Masonry ( and Earthquake Resistant Construction in Jammu & Kashmir ( ?

Ruth Haynes

Dear all (and in particular Chris Nixon, because I would be interested in your view)

If there were specific buildings, could a limited assessment be made from photographs?

I know an experienced seismic engineer in Dhaka (just an hours flight away) who did the seismic retrofit for the French School in Dhaka if you want a more local contact.

My offer of inspection is genuine. My company could cover all costs.


Ruth has posted her question (whether a limited assessment can be made from photographs) as a new question here: Many thanks.

KnowledgePointAdmin gravatar imageKnowledgePointAdmin ( 2015-05-05 17:38:08 )
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May 04 '15