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When To Call A Structural Engineer

When To Call A Structural Engineer – The confusion surrounding this topic is considerable because, let’s face it, most people only hire a civil engineer once or twice in their lifetime.

Since you may be new to how the process works, this blog will walk you through the process of finding a civil engineer, what to expect and the costs involved.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

When To Call A Structural Engineer

A structural engineer inspection is typically a visual inspection performed by a structural engineer to check the structural soundness of the load-bearing components of a home or building, such as frames, foundations, beams, columns, posts or trusses.

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It is done when a homeowner has questions about the structural integrity of a building or structure. This can involve an analysis of the entire structure or the examination of one specific element of the building.

Structural engineering is different from a regular home inspection. The home inspector performs a general check:

After the inspection, the home inspector will make a written report of his findings. It covers everything.

However, if a home inspector suspects a potential problem with a foundation, framing member, or other load-bearing area, they should refer the client to a specialized professional, such as a structural engineer.

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The structural engineer would then inspect the area and usually provide the homeowner with a written report of the results of the scientific investigation and the extent of the necessary repair work.

Structural engineers spend years studying loading systems and training with P.E. (professional engineer) to obtain a license from the state in which they wish to practice.

It is the same with doctors in the medical system. If your doctor (home inspector) suspected a life-threatening brain tumor, he would refer you to a licensed neurosurgeon (structural engineer).

When To Call A Structural Engineer

The “bones” of your home or building are not something to risk. If you or your home inspector suspects a problem, hire a licensed structural engineer to investigate the problem.

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There are a number of situations where you may want to have a structural engineer inspect to make sure the bones of your home are sound.

Many people think about hiring a structural engineer when buying a home, but there are also many benefits when a seller uses a structural engineer.

For example, if you want to sell your home in a timely manner, you may want to consider investigating any areas of concern before putting your home on the market.

If you know in advance that your foundation is cracked, a proactive approach to a structural engineer inspection will give the buyer confidence in the purchase and can speed up the closing process.

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If you know that your house needs foundation work, you have the opportunity to collect several job offers. Having a plan of action ahead of time can give the seller peace of mind and allows them to be realistic about the sale price.

Make sure your structural engineer provides you with a written report outlining the results and, if necessary, the scope of work the contractor can use to complete the repair/corrective work. The engineer’s report will also assist in obtaining any required building permits.

If you are buying a home, you may want to do a general home inspection. This is not usually required by mortgage lenders, but it is a good idea to get a complete picture of the condition of the homes. Remember, the home inspector will give you an overall report on the condition of your entire home.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

If the inspector discovers an anomaly in any of the load-bearing components, he or she may issue a “red flag” and recommend an inspection by a structural engineer for further investigation.

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Even if it is not necessary, it is prudent to carry out a structural engineering inspection to ensure that there are no major structural problems.

If problems are found, you can leave the house or negotiate a price to accommodate the repairs.

A properly constructed house should show no subsidence except for a few small cracks in the foundation of the concrete slab.

That said, very old houses may have sloping floors and some cracks in the ceiling or wall just because the structural members were not designed to sag like they are today.

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Generally, if there is to be a settlement, it will be within the first 10 years. Most of the settlement will likely happen in the first 3-5 years, and after that, traffic should be minimal until that 10-year mark. Saturated soils can contribute to any movement after this point.

You may have a construction defect case on your hands. Hire a structural engineer to find out exactly what’s going on. There may be a builder warranty so don’t wait too long!

The reason for the emergence of new settlements can be the wrong level of humidity in the interiors (air exchange), poor management of water or soil soils. Either way, your structural engineer can provide you with an overview and any necessary repairs.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

Whenever you remove load-bearing elements (such as a wall) or install additional weight in your home (aquarium, island, granite countertops, piano, swimming pool, etc.), you should definitely consult a structural engineer.

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If a load bearing member was removed without proper temporary supports and a proper replacement beam/column system, you could be in big trouble! Your house could literally collapse or be seriously damaged.

On the other hand, if you are increasing the weight of your home, you will want to see if the existing system can handle the load.

Houses are designed to carry a certain weight. If you are adding weight to an existing system, you may also need to install additional brackets to properly distribute this load.

In Minnesota, most city building departments actually require a structural engineering inspection to obtain a building permit for a simple remodeling, such as removing a wall or installing a new deck.

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However, if you see cracks as small as ΒΌ inch (or larger), foundation walls sagging, or any movement, you may want to have a structural engineering inspection done to analyze the condition.

Many times the damaged area can be easily repaired as long as the source of the problem is addressed (click here to learn more).

A structural engineer can tell if problems are due to an inadequate water management system, poorly compacted or incorrect backfill, or faulty foundation design.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

Each structural element is selected based on the weight it can carry and how it distributes that weight to other elements.

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There are strict rules and building requirements/codes for changing these elements, as it can literally remove the entire structural system of a building.

So, if your plumber cuts through a frame piece it shouldn’t have, or if attic trusses are removed without consulting an engineer, the integrity of your home could be at risk.

If you or your contractor accidentally changes a load-bearing element of your home, structural engineering must be done immediately.

If you or your contractor believe you have storm damage, but your insurance company disagrees, you may want to consider getting a second opinion from a structural engineer.

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An engineer’s report stating that there is storm damage and building performance is at risk may be enough for your insurance company to approve your claim.

Drainage problems can wreak havoc on a building’s foundation, cause costly interior damage, create puddles and icy conditions.

A structural engineering inspection can help determine where the problems are coming from and how to implement a proper water management system that will maintain foundation integrity.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

Heat loss can cause a variety of problems in your home, such as ice dams, mold and high energy bills.

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A structural engineering inspection can help determine where the heat loss is and the best way to permanently fix the problem. Click here to learn more.

If you recognize your situation in the “Reasons for a structural engineering inspection” section above, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost you.

A typical inspection, such as removing a single wall, will take about 2-3 hours and cost about $400-700.

The review itself can be quite quick, but you need to consider travel time, time for analysis, calculations, scope of repair work and generation of reports.

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For example, if you tell an engineer that you want to remove three walls, he will not know which walls are load bearing until he examines and measures the structure of the building.

If all three walls are load-bearing, this means that the structural engineer has to design three replacement beam and column systems, which takes more time than if he only had to design one.

Large jobs, such as new construction or a large remodeling project, are often auctioned rather than priced by the hour.

When To Call A Structural Engineer

It is difficult to determine the overall cost of an average job offer because each job is unique. It depends on what the customer is looking for.

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If your architect has done plans for the whole house and wants the whole set designed, it can cost anywhere from $3,000.00 to $7,500.00.

However, some simple houses may require less engineering. To know, you need to get a quote from a civil engineer

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