I'm putting together a design draft of a home for later submission to
an architect, and I'd like it to be as spot-on as possible without
having to become an architect myself in the process. The home is
primarily concrete block and heavy timber frame and I'm having some
issues with laying the CMU courses such that they're structurally
sound. I'm using 3dsmax to model it. The CMU pictured are standard
8x8x16 split-face blocks using stretcher bond. Here's a link to the
My problem is how to deal with T intersections and in general places
that will require a half block to be used repetitively through the
courses. I understand there are steel ties that can bind a wall butted
to another wall in a T intersection if the blocks between them can't
overlap. I don't know where the half blocks should be placed as to not
affect the structural integrity of the wall though. I've heard corners
are bad places.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can better design the
courses, or know or any reference material (online or in print) that
has good information about the structural engineering principles of
concrete masonry? Thanks all.
The architect just needs some basic drawings of your ideas...
The home is
You're going way to crazy about it. And 3DS Max is a terrible tool for
what you're doing (I've done lots of 3D Stuff and Max is pretty weak at
The CMU pictured are standard
I've never worried about it. If it's a problem, my structural engineer
figures it out. If it's not a problem, the mason figures it out.
You're wasting your own time doing stuff you don't need to do.
If you're using standard CMU sizes, then figure 8" W x 16" L x 8" H for
your coursing (it's actually smaller, but with mortar, it ends up being
that). If you use those dimensions for your modules (a 16" module works
well), then you'll be OK. But you're still worrying about stuff you
don't need to worry about.
Listen to all the good advice posted above. Let the structural engineer
figure out out to reinforce the corners and intersections.
Amount of reinforcing will vary according to location.
You could learn this yourself. You only need to read and study three or
four 400-page books. Of course, by the time you have done that the
building code will change.
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
Structural & Civil Engineering
bob at rlmorrisonengr dot com
Stop and let the masons do it. Figure out what walls you're keen on.
The architect will have a spec they like for masonry and details for
things they don't want to leave to the masons.
If you're going to get picky about just how the blocks are laid you
have to get picky about expansion joints, rebar, grouting, footings...
The question you ask about details isn't really structural engineering.
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