Structural Inspection and Repair Terms

August 30, 2021 | By: Owen Kavanagh

Structural Inspection and Repair Terms 

What is a slab? What does “movement” mean to a structural engineer? Understanding what is being said when a building is inspected and repaired will help as you navigate the incredibly important task of maintaining a building. Here are a few terms that may pop up in conversations with structural engineers and contractors. 

  • Professional Engineer – An engineer licensed by the state government to provide engineering services, abbreviated as PE.  
  • Concrete – A mixture of cement, water, an aggregate (such as volcanic ash or silt), and stone. 
  • Slab – A flat, horizontal surface made of cast concrete. 
  • Façade – The exterior faces of the building.
  • Precast/Prestressed Concrete – Concrete created by casting in a form then shipping to the construction site where it will undergo final construction.  
  • Contraction Joint – Joint placed in concrete to allow for shrinkage or cracking at the joint. 
  • Corrosion – Deterioration of building material via chloride contamination, water, salt, and others.
  •  Cracking – A break, split, or narrow opening in a construction material like concrete, masonry, or wood. 
  • Leak – The intrusion of water through a construction material.
  • Delamination – A separation of construction material layers, it can be caused by corrosion of reinforcement steel, and other forms of deterioration. 
  • Cast-In-Place Concrete – Concrete constructed by casting or depositing in the place where it will harden. 
  • Movement – Occurs in all concrete structures from changing loads, creep, changes in temperature and moisture content, and shrinkage. A system too rigid for movement may experience cracking, connection fracturing, sealant failures, and gland failures.  
  • Sealant – A substance used to block the passage of fluids through a surface, joints, or openings, in a material. This can include (but is not limited to), caulk, epoxy, and polyurethane. 
  • Spalling – Surface failure caused by the fragmentation of material from a larger body, this can be caused by corrosion, weathering, and thermal strain from rapid heating and pressure due to water removal in concrete. 
  • Scaling – A form of deterioration involving the disintegration of surface layers of slab, similar to “weathering” in warmer climates, caused by water freezing and thawing. 
  • Masonry – The building of structures using individual pieces, such as bricks, concrete, or stone, bound by mortar.  

These terms are part of a series on Building Structural Inspection and Repair, which includes:

A deeper dive on Structural Inspection and Repair is presented in a two-part webinar series. The first webinar  focuses on the tools and tips for inspection, and the second webinar focuses on the repair process. Both webinars may be viewed on-demand through a CRE Insight 365 membership. 


To stay up to date on news and resources such as this and other topics of importance to the real estate industry, subscribe to the free CRE Insight Journal Newsletter using this link.


Get the latest content delivered straight to your inbox.