A structural engineer is probably not someone you call in every day.
But for homeowners, structural concerns, or a big reno project, can mean you have to make that call. If you’re an architect or a contractor, you may need a structural engineer to sign off on your work.
Their report can make the difference in obtaining a permit or clinching a sale. But before he or she shows up at your house, it’s handy to know exactly what they’re going to do.
Join us as we explore six key components of a structural engineer inspection.
1. Discussion Of Scope of Inspection
There is no standard structural engineer inspection. Their inspection will depend on the scope of inspection that you agree with them ahead of their visit.
For example, you notice a crack in your foundation. You want to know whether it’s structural or simply cosmetic. You call them and arrange for a structural engineer foundation inspection.
When they come, their attention will be focused on this one area. Don’t expect them to inspect and advise on the rest of the property – unless it directly impacts the area you have asked them to inspect.
It’s important to be clear about the scope of the inspection before the visit occurs. Any misunderstandings will lead to additional expenses.
2. Visual Inspection
A residential structural engineer inspection will begin with a visual inspection.
The engineer will carefully examine the exterior and interior of the home. It’s important to consider ahead of time how he or she will access hard-to-reach areas. This could include foundations, crawl spaces, and roof spaces.
Structural engineers are highly trained in physics, math, and building regulations. As they survey your property, they will be taking note of:
- Design of structures, such as foundations
- Construction materials used
- The load-bearing capacity of materials
- Environmental factors, such as soil erosion
Remember, that a home inspector is not an expert in structural matters. If you are planning to sell your property, a home inspector may identify issues that a structural engineer should investigate. Only structural engineers can produce detailed reports that can satisfy legal requirements.
3. Visual Inspection Report
After gathering data during the visual inspection, the structural engineer will next prepare a report. The visual inspection report will cover three areas: Observations, Conclusions, and Recommendations.
This will be a summary of their findings. They will detail the visual appearance of structural elements.
For example, they may report specific features such as cracks in the foundation, or rot in the rafters. They will provide details, such as the extent of the problem with specific measurements.
They will also comment on environmental observations, which could be the cause of the issues they have identified. They will also include observations of problems that are likely to develop in the future.
Based on their observations, they will draw conclusions. For example, they may observe signs of settlement or movement and identify these as the causes of the issues.
The structural engineer will provide detailed recommendations to address the problem. Their focus is on restoring the safety of the structure and preventing further deterioration.
Recommendations can take three forms:
- Further, more intrusive investigations
- A plan to monitor the issue
- A solution to the problem
This report can be a huge help to you if you are selling a property. If the report is clear, it will help to reassure buyers. It will also help you to achieve the best possible price for your property.
If you are renovating or staying in your home, it will also give you a clear way forward. It will show exactly what you need to do if there are issues to address.
4. Full Structural Investigation
Sometimes, the recommendation of the visual inspection is a full structural investigation.
This means that they could not gather enough information from the visual inspection. In order to make accurate recommendations, further, more intrusive tests will be needed.
This type of investigation could include:
- Reviewing the structural plans of the building
- Testing the materials used in the building
- Carrying out load tests on parts of the structure
Once these more extensive tests are complete, the structural engineer will be able to prepare a final report.
5. Full Structural Investigation Report
The full structural investigation report will follow the same format. The structural engineer will provide observations, conclusions, and recommendations.
Whether you are a homeowner, contractor, or architect, this will give you a clear way forward. You will need to act on the report’s recommendations in full to ensure the safety of the structure going forward.
The structural engineer home inspection report will provide all the details a contractor needs. They will be able to take the report and use it to make the necessary repairs.
6. Structural Engineer Inspection Cost
One of the most frequently asked questions is how much does a structural engineer foundation inspection cost?
If you hire a structural engineer for a standard inspection, such as a foundation inspection, they will usually charge a fixed fee. This will usually cost around $500-700.
However, if you need to consult them on a more complex issue, they may charge by the hour. This is also the case if you need them to draw up plans for you. Expect to pay between $100-200 per hour for these services.
Ready To Find A Structural Engineer?
A structural engineer inspection might seem like an unnecessary expense. Especially if they give your property a clean bill of health. But it’s actually a wise move.
It makes your property more sellable. You know that it’s structurally sound. And if it does identify issues, you know exactly what to do to put them right.
Are you looking for a structural engineer?
At PE For Hire, we bring projects and engineers together. Simply submit the details of your project free of charge. Qualified engineers will contact you with a quotation.
Get started by submitting details of your project today!