At a Glance
Marin, CA, and Draper, UT
Structural design, structural analysis, and seismic rehabilitation
If businesses and homeowners want to ensure that their offices and houses are structurally sound, they turn to companies such as BHW Engineers LLC. While the firm does offer standard professional services including structural design and construction observation, it also has expanded its practice to an oft-overlooked yet still critical area: seismic rehabilitation.
“When I moved to San Francisco, the field of seismic rehabilitation of existing buildings was just beginning,” says company founder Barry Welliver, a Connecticut native who headed west after graduating from college to establish his engineering consulting firm in Marin County, California, in 1980. “While design for new buildings is challenging and appropriate, there are a great number of buildings built in seismically active areas that require a lot of attention.”
Welliver and his firm have worked on countless seismic projects, restoring buildings that have been damaged due to earthquakes and conducting preventative work on buildings near fault lines. “The biggest project I’ve ever worked on is a custom residential Japanese architecture development in Woodside, California,” he says. “That was a project that started in 1995 and ran for about eight years. It was very challenging for us because it sat on a piece of property that is very close to the San Andreas Fault.” Welliver and his team ensured that the 10-acre development’s design could withstand lateral loads in accordance with the California earthquake building codes.
Shortly after starting the project, Welliver and his family relocated to Salt Lake City. “As the business was stable in California, I decided to open a second office [in Utah],” he says. When not working on seismic rehabilitation, the firm works on custom residential projects in both states. “We work on many complex hillside homes and other projects that require engineering challenges to complete,” Welliver says.
Many of Welliver’s employees are graduates of the prestigious California Polytechnic State University engineering program, renowned for its innovative practice of integrating architecture and document development. Welliver says his engineers’ impressive schooling and expertise give the firm an advantage when attracting new and repeat business. “The strength of [its] repeat clients is a firm’s best asset,” he says. “Building up those relationships is really important to us. We come to the table with a lot of experience and solutions for fairly complex problems. That’s the way we position ourselves in terms of working with new clients.”
As the firm’s business continues to grow across state lines, though, Welliver still stresses the importance of being incredibly hands-on with each project. “I strongly believe in the … process of being involved not only in the early stages of a project but right through to completion,” he says. “Our philosophy is that we get involved in projects that we are interested in rather than just for profitability. Our early involvement helps both the client and us to get the best end product—as opposed to coming in later and engineering things that look good on paper but are impossible to build.” ABQ