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Will I need a structural engineer for my project?

Know when to give a structural engineer a call.
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If you are here, then you’re probably curious if your new home or renovation project needs a structural engineer. Here, we’ll do our best to answer that question. We’ll tell you what structural engineers do, their role in the construction process, the residential projects that require their expertise, and how we can help you get the best ones in the country on your team. 

What is a residential structural engineer and why do you need one?

Residential structural engineers are licensed professionals who ensure that your home will be safe, strong, and structurally sound when built or renovated. They calculate forces and loads, analyse specifications and suggest the building materials that will improve the physical integrity of the homes they’re working on. 

When do you need a structural engineer?

Homeowners taking on a simple renovation or new home projects might not need the assistance of a structural engineer. Engaging a building designer or a draftsman might suffice. However, there are instances when design professionals need input from a structural engineer to make sure the design is strong enough for the site of the home and the surrounding environment, and won’t collapse or deflect. 

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So, when do you need a residential structural engineer?

It will depend upon the nature of the project. If your new home or renovation project involves any of the following, you are in need of a structural engineer:

  • Unique, complicated designs
  • Tearing down loadbearing interior walls
  • Door and window placement modifications
  • Home extensions (vertical and horizontal)
  • Loft conversion
  • Solar panel installation
  • Building or removing reinforced concrete columns
  • Earth retaining walls
  • Building in cyclone-prone areas
  • Building on sloping sites 
  • Building on poor, soft, or clay soil
  • Steel floor beams 
  • Roof girders
  • Suspended concrete slabs
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You also need a structural engineer to inspect your property before you start planning a renovation. These inspections are important especially when you notice cracks or other concerning issues on the original property. The structural engineer should assess the damage, identify the possible causes, and advise on the best way to address them when you renovate.

As a general rule, a structural engineer must handle matters affecting the house’s stability. Here at Superdraft, we always advise our customers on whether they need a structural engineer or not. Our building process eliminates second-guessing, which is great for first-time home builders and renovators. We give our customers a heads up from the onset to avoid problems and delays in building approval and construction in the future.

Cost of hiring a structural engineer

Like many construction professionals, structural engineers charge by the hour and it costs between $75 to $250 per hour. It varies depending on the amount of work needed, the size of the house, the complexity of the design, and the skills level and experience of the engineer. 

Superdraft can help you get competitive quotes because we have hundreds of structural engineers in our network across the country. We can help you organise quotes and coordinate with them for all your engineering needs. 

Tips when working with a structural engineer for home renovations

A structural engineer can help you determine if a wall is load-bearing or not. If you would like to remove that wall to create an open-plan space, expect to receive some drawings that show the structural engineer’s recommendations. Expect to see a new beam to replace the carrying capacity of the wall you want to remove. 

There are structural damages that will only be discovered after removing the wall, floor, and ceiling linings of the house. Structural engineers might miss these hidden internal structural damage, especially when there is no evident damage on the surface of the building. 

This is frustrating, but you need to address these problems now that you are aware of them. Make sure that you have contingency funds that you can use to fix the hidden issues you’ve discovered. 

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