Structural design Guidelines: Phases of an Engineering and Design Process

Structural engineering or structural design is a process that you go through to complete a construction project. There are three main phases, which include the planning phase, design, and construction phase.

Planning Phase

During the planning phase, the factors that go into a structure such as concrete buildings or steel buildings are taken under consideration. You have to look at things such as the building layout as well as the dimensions of the structure you’re going to be working on. The functions that you want for the building is going to be a part of the decision-making process. You also have to consider sociology, ascetics, the environment, and how the building may impact the economy.

Design Phase

In structural engineering, the next phase is the design phase. This is where you look at the design of the actual structure. You will look at the proportions, dimensions, the connections, structural members, and other materials you may be working with.

Construction Phase

The next phase is the construction phase. This is where you get your equipment and materials and begin the process of putting up the structure. you may have to hire labor, and you could run into difficulties where you have to redesign certain parts of the structure. 

Structural Design Guidelines

In structural design, there are some guidelines that you have to follow. A lot is going to depend upon the actual structure you want to design. General structural design guidelines are explained briefly in the below section:

  • Conditions of the site where you want to build
  • The loads that will be acting on your structure
  • The design of your structure

Conditions of the Site

The designer has to look at the conditions of the building site. Some things to consider include:

  • How much the soil can bear or the bearing capacity
  • The maximum load capacity of your soil
  • The foundation that you want to build on the soil
  • Any requirements that you need to improve the soil
  • The water level table on the site where you wish to build


Structure Loads

There will be different loads on your structure. You need to consider these before you build. This has to factor in the building process. here are some of the loads that you need to consider.

Dead Load

The dead load is formed by the self-weight of the actual structural members. These include the beams, columns, finishing, slab loads wall loads, plastering, and so on. Any element that will be stationary and placed permanently on your structure should also be included as part of the Dead load. The self-weight of a dead load of any structural member is calculated as a product of its self-weight and the volume.

Live Load

The load that a structure is subject to when it is occupied. these can be dynamic or static in nature. The load may or not be present during the use of the structure. For example, in industrial structures and buildings, there can be a live load from maintenance tools, people, and so on. 

Different structures will have a different live load. For example, for a residential building, the live load is 40 psf, and the value for a live load on lobbies and corridors of offices 100 psf. ( I changed to USA units)

The region where the structure is to be built will have a recommended minimum load value. In the USA, you can get a live minimum load rating for a building through ASCE 7.

When you look at the live load in the design of a structure, you also have to consider that the structure may be expanded in the future. The load probabilities during the lifetime of a structure must be considered when you design for a live load as things may change.

Wind Load

On the windward side of a site, the wind load will act horizontally on the building’s surface area. Any site that is under construction or being considered has a wind Zone. The maximum wind speed area is calculated based upon the wind zone. You can get a wind map of the area where you want to build that has this sort of data.

The building orientation and the surface area of the structure impact the wind speed and convert this into force. The wind direction impacts the wind Force calculation. When you calculate for a wind load, you don’t have to take into consideration the shape of the building or the structural member. A wind load is calculated for a structure that is subjected to wind force or for structures that are built to resist wind.

Guidelines for the calculation of wind force on a structure can be found in ASCE 7-95. You can also look at applicable codes based upon the location of the structure or building.

Earthquake and Seismic Loads

ASCE 7Or other applicable codes will determine the design for a seismic load. You can use this for the calculation of earthquake forces

Structure Design

When you construct a building or other structure, you have to look at the relevant codes.  you can look at ACI 318-14 or whatever other code is applicable to your project.

Steel building fabrication must conform to AISC-ASD The message for structural design is based upon the practices of the local area. the three methods used include:

  • Limit state 
  • Load resistance factor
  • Working stress

Structural Design Factors

When designing a structure, you have to look at the following standard codes, which are as follows:

  • The maximum allowable settlement of the structure or foundation
  • The lateral and vertical deflections of buildings and other structural members 
  • Overturning of buildings in sliding needs to be checked and prevented during the design
  • In your building drawings standard detailing and guidelines need to be followed
  • All design and Engineering needs to comply with the relevant codes and practices. These laws and rules are outlined in the directorate of industries and factories 
  • Environmental factors and conditions should be considered during your design phase
  • You need to address the structural members and the construction materials and their related properties that you’re going to be using it during the design
  • The structure should also be set up so that people can properly escape during an emergency, such as a fire.


Structural Design Guidelines, these are just a few of the points you need to consider with structural design. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with steel buildings, concrete buildings, or other structures. There are certain rules and regulations that you have to follow. You must ensure that the structure is completed in the right way. This can only be accomplished by an understanding of the entire project.