Structural steel connection

17 Jul 2010
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Tyne and Wear
United Kingdom
Hi all,

Can anyone tell me if this connection is normal practice.

This column has a plate on and picks up 2 twin bolted beams coming in at 90 degrees, as can be seen here...


The beam that comes in from the left sits directly ontop of the column welded to the plate. The beam coming in from behind the column in the picture above has its web notched into the other beam sitting on the column. At a different picture angle, this is the beam coming in from the right in this pic...


What I want to understand is if welding (only) is considered a sufficiently strong enough connection and normal practice in these instances?

As you can just see, the bottom flange of the beam is welded at the edge of the plate and is only on that plate by a few mm. The flange is then cut and web notched into the other beam and welded to it's flange...


This is the back side of the web where you can see the incoming notched brand have been welded into...


This is the underside...


Basically, other than a few mm welded to the base plate of the column only the web welded to the web of the other beam is maintaining this connection.

I have a meeting with building control next week and plan to ask him, yet I would assume he would have picked this up already if he felt it was an issue.

Thanks in advance.


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what did the SE design? did he specify site welding? I'd have thought not, normally the fabrication place would be better placed to do welded connections reliably. If the welding was specified on site, was the welder qualified for structural work and did he do it to the exact specification. I'd expect the SE to want to inspect.
SE calcs just say connections to steel fabricators design.

SE doesn't care, he's got his money, done his calcs, job done.
I can't remember the details of CDM regs but I'm pretty sure the structural designer can't just Palm responsibility off to the fabricator or builder. He has the responsibility to design something suitable and doable. Who is responsible for the project under the CDM regs?
Hope someone will be along with experience on actual welding to comment on the visual appearance, but my feeling is the se would have expected the fabricator to invent a bolted connection, not welding in place.
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Those weld beads don't look very neat. Very poor and amateurish. Doesn't even look as though they've made any attempt to clean away the paint, hence the contaminated (scruffy) weld beads.

Awful looking job.
Welds are acceptable connections, but whether they are acceptable in this case is down to the designer.

The engineer should design and specify connections. That's just as important as designing the beams. Can't leave it to the welder to design. The welder is not qualified to design and in this case he's not qualified to even weld.
Welding is acceptable for on site connections, provided the design allows for wlded connections and they are done correctly.

I would say, cleats for joining 1 beam to another at 90 deg is the best way. The cleats can be factory drilled or welded on the end of the beams and then drilled on site for the other connection.

Your structural engineer is the one to advise......he needs to tell you if what you have is acceptable.
Generally, connections are not detailed by the SE - these are left to the fabricator. The reason for that is that there are different ways of making connections (eg a few very thick bolts - v - several more thin bolts can give identical strength) and fabricators may have their own preferences.
Having said that, for small domestic jobs which are not particularly complex, it's debatable how far the SE should go regarding connections. Fabricators who do small domestic jobs may not have the expertise to design the connections themselves and the SE needs to consider his responsibilities under CDM regs, as has been pointed out above.
For the OPs connections: site welding is not regarded as ideal, particularly when done by cowboys, as in this example. There is absolutely no way those welds could be verified as acceptable and I certainly would not be happy with them; shop welding of drilled end-plates and site bolting is the preferred way.
Don't bother asking the building inspector if he's happy with the work - he will just refer you back to your SE and will take no responsibility. If you are using council building control, they often have their own checking engineers. Try and get hold of him/her - show them the pics and tell them of your concerns.
Don't waste time going back to your own SE.
Thanks, I've dropped a note to building control to ask if he can pass the pictures to his in house engineer to check.

I'll also get another engineer to take a look.

Will let you guys know what they say.
BC says speak to my engineer, but he will take a look when on site in Tuesday.

I've dropped an email to my engineer.
Having spoken to the builder also, he says he has his own fabricator so welded themselves. Oh dear....

I wondered that!

The steel fabricator I use, he had to have independent inspectors certify the quality of his welders, something to do with CE regs I recall.

We have also used one of their sub contractor site welder and his welds done on site look just as good as those done in the factory.

The structural engineers I use show suggested cleat details on their drawings for connections. When we have changed the detailing slightly, they are happy to confirm -I send them asketch of what we propose and they email me back: yay or nay. The problem is its often not possible to see how it will work until the steels go in -because measuring up and designing has to be done with the existing house in place.

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