Engineering Education in Limelight

If you have a renovation or new construction project, you probably heard that you need a structural engineer. A structural engineer can be an essential part of the project, saving yourself and your budget from issues down the road.

It’s easy to look at the cost of hiring an engineer and see another pricey line item that can add to the cost of your project. How much should you budget for hiring a structural engineer?

Read on to learn what a structural engineer does, why you need to hire one, and how much you should budget to hire one for your project.

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

You know that there are many types of engineering specialties. There are computer engineers, manufacturing engineers, civil engineers, electrical engineers, and structural engineers.

You can guess by the job titles that a computer engineer works with computers and manufacturing engineers work in a manufacturing environment. What about structural engineers?

If you guessed that they work with structures, you’re technically correct. That only tells you part of the story.

A structural engineer is involved in the planning, construction, and inspection of buildings. It’s the structural engineer’s job to make sure that a building is safe from the foundation on up. They usually take the client’s or architect’s vision and figure out how it can be accomplished in a safe way.

For example, Apple’s headquarters were built on a big vision. It was a large circular building surrounded by glass. A team of structural engineers had to figure out a way to build the headquarters and install 2.8 million square feet of curved glass.

Structural engineers are useful for smaller projects as well. They frequently work with architects and contractors to figure out the best materials to use to complete a project. They know where load-bearing walls should be placed.

They can also be hired during the home sales process. Real estate agents will often hire a structural engineer to see if there are foundational or other structural issues before the sale closes. That inspection can impact the final sales price or whether the deal goes through at all.

How Much Does a Structural Engineer Cost?

The cost of hiring a structural engineer depends largely on the scope of the project. If you’re hiring a structural engineer for a home inspection, the cost will be much lower than drawing up plans for a renovation.

You have to factor in the costs the structural engineer incurs to do the job. You’re also paying for their expertise. An engineer with more experience will charge more for their work.

Why Do You Need a Structural Engineer?

There are many reasons why you should hire a residential structural engineer. A home inspector is hired to take a look at a home before it’s sold. A home inspector is a generalist and is trained to spot potential issues.

They’ll take the next step to hire a specialist if they see problems. If there’s an electrical issue, they’ll bring in an electrical contractor. If there’s something wrong with the structure of the home anywhere between the roof and the foundation, they’ll call in a structural engineer.

Before you do a DIY home renovation project, you want to make sure you don’t take out load-bearing walls. A structural engineer can tell you which walls need to remain untouched.

Tips for Hiring a Structural Engineer

Are you convinced that a structural engineer is the way to go for your project? You don’t want to leave your results to chance, so how do you find a great structural engineer in your area?

Here are some tips and guidelines that you can follow to make sure you get a professional engineer.

Talk to Your Professional Network

If you’re working with an architect, contractor, or real estate agent, they probably know of at least one structural engineer. This is the best place to start. Try to come up with a few names that you can research and then decide which one is right for you.

Do a Little Online Research

Once you have a few names to go with, do a little online sleuthing. Look at each engineer up online. Check out the website and see if they have a portfolio of projects. You want to make sure that they have some experience in projects such as yours. You’ll also want to see if they have their license number on their website.

You can then look it up online through your state’s engineering board to make sure the license is in good standing.

Ask the Right Questions

You definitely want to get more than one estimate from structural engineers in your area. You want to ask them the right questions, too. They should come to your site to check out the scope of the job and give you an estimate.

As you’re talking with them, make sure that you ask them about their experience and specialties. If you couldn’t find their license number on their website, ask them for that information so you can look it up.

You may also ask for additional referrals from past clients.

It’s a Good Idea to Hire a Structural Engineer

If you have a residential or commercial project, a structural engineer can save you from massive headaches. They can also be a lifesaver because they may find issues during a home inspection that can save you from investing in a money pit.

The cost to hire a structural engineer depends on the task at hand. A small project like a home inspection report can cost as little as a few hundred dollars. It’s smart to get a few estimates from licensed structural engineers before you hire one.

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