When starting a construction project, you’re likely to be scrutinizing every little cost that goes into it that you barely factor in something as important as structural engineering.
Wait, you need a structural engineer? Why?
A lot of people question the value of a structural engineer in their project. However, before you rule it out, it’s essential for you to understand why having one is very beneficial. In this guide, we will look at everything structural engineering, how they can help you, and when you should get one.
What Is a Structural Engineer?
A structural engineer is a licensed professional who is trained to analyze factors that exert force on construction. These could be elements such as wind, gravity, temperature, and pressure. Their job is to ensure that a structure can hold up to these forces.
For instance, they analyze whether the roof of a building would be strong enough when snow falls and settles on it. Also, whether structures in areas prone to earthquakes can hold against the force.
When building structures such as bridges, a structural engineer will analyze the wind, water, and traffic volume to determine whether the structure is sound enough and offer advice to the architect and contractors.
What Do Structural Engineers Do?
Structural engineers ensure that the buildings, bridges, houses, skyscrapers, and all kinds of structures are safe and stable without the possibility of collapsing. These are experts at meeting challenges, solving problems, and they go out of their way to provide creative solutions. Structural engineers design anything from roof framing, foundations, floor decks, walls, etcetera.
They achieve their job by analyzing maps, reports, blueprints, geological and topographical data. They compute water flow rates, grade and load requirements, and monitor projects. This ensures the contractors are building everything according to specifications.
Beyond that, they analyze environmental conditions in the given areas to identify the potential problems the construction could face.
Structural engineers require an in-depth understanding of both mathematics and physics. They must have an in-depth knowledge of the properties in various materials. Using this information, they gauge how these materials will perform under various pressures.
These pressures could be anything from tension, compression, temperature, radiation, liquids, and corrosive gases. It’s essential for them to have an ability to predict how all these materials will perform both in the short and long term.
They use computer-aided design systems, also known as CAD to do their job. Of course, they use other software such as 3D visualizations, to achieve their tasks.
Structural Engineer Vs. Civil Engineer
Structural engineering is a dimension of civil engineering. Civil engineers design and manage infrastructure and construction projects. Structural engineers ensure the strength of those constructions.
When Do You Need An Expert in Structural Engineering?
Architects, contractors, and builders bring their own skills and expertise to a project. Having a structural engineer, however, can go a long way as they’ll analyze all aspects of the project.
They’ll ensure that you’re left with a sound structure that will not have any problems for a very long time. Leave the aesthetics and functionality to your architect. Let the structural engineer ensure that the support is strong enough and will resist any loads it’s subjected to.
1. When Building a New Home
If you want to build your own customized home, it’s vital that you hire a structural engineer for your project. They’ll ensure the house plans are sound before the construction commences. They will consider the site for sustainability, integration with certain features, intended use, and environmental impact.
2. When Altering Your Home of Building Additions
You may have been thinking of adding an extra bedroom, garage, studio, or any other room to your home. A structural engineer will determine whether the addition will compromise the integrity of the rest of the house. They will ensure the foundation of your additional room is enforced adequately.
If you’re looking to alter the layout of your house, you need a structural engineer.
You see, removing one load-bearing wall will have a significant impact on the structure of the entire house. An engineer will accurately determine the walls that carry the most weight and how a renovation will affect the house. They will help you keep your home face as you renovate and remodel.
3. When Installing Solar or Wind Turbines
Renewable energy is taking over the world, and you may be thinking of jumping on the bandwagon by getting solar energy or wind turbines. Your house may not be strong enough to support the solar panels. You need a structural engineer to carry out a feasibility study.
They will verify whether your roof will handle the weight. Most roofs are not built to handle the weight of solar panels and the foot traffic that comes with installation and maintenance.
The structural engineer will recommend the necessary reinforcements. They’ll ensure that your roof will handle the panels without compromising the roof or the house. If you’re thinking more about wind turbines, the engineer will conduct a wind feasibility test and advise you accordingly.
4. When You Notice Structural Damage
You may have noticed structural damages in your home, or an inspector has pointed it out. Having a structural engineer check it out and determine the severity of the situation will help you determine the best course of action in terms of repairs.
If you’re dealing with water, fire, wind, or termite damage, understand that all these can threaten the integrity of your home. An engineer will help you determine what to do. When hiring a structural engineer, ensure you ask important questions to ensure they are qualified enough for the job.
Why You Need a Structural Engineer
If any of the above cases apply to you, it’s critical that you have a professional structural engineer look at it. They’ll help you determine the best course of action.
Structural engineering may seem complicated, but it’s a necessary discipline in all types of constructions. Don’t dismiss it the next time you have a project.
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