A Beginner's Guide to ASCE 7-05

Chapter 1 - General Information

2008, T. Bartlett Quimby


Basic Requirements

General Structural Integrity

Structure Classification

Additions & Alterations

Load Tests


Report Errors or Make Suggestions


Section 1.1


Last Revised: 11/04/2014

ASCE 7 is THE Standard used in the United States as a basis for determine loads to be applied to structures.  In the Standard includes definitions and procedures for determining the magnitude of a variety of load types and the probable combinations of those loads that should be considered in design.

As you come to understand the standard, you will come to the realization that the standard does not cover all the bases AND it has its limitations.  It is important for the practicing engineer to know how the standard and its contents were developed, the assumptions the work is based on, and limitations of the standards.  With this knowledge costly mistakes can be avoided and rational decisions made regarding the selection of loads and their magnitudes.

This particular text is rather brief.  The reason for this is that the commentary to ASCE 7 is an excellent text in its own right.  The goal of this text is to provide some clarification for the beginning engineer, example problems, and an opportunity to work life-like problems.

Chapter 1 of the Standard puts the Standard in context with the larger view of structural engineering.  The chapter defines a number of critical terms, states the basic requirements for structural design and analysis, a classification system for structures, provides direction for how to deal with additions and alterations to existing structures designed under different criteria, and allows the use of load testing to prove the strength and stability of an existing structure.  The following sections help to understand these sections.