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10 Reasons to Hire a Residential Structural Engineer

 

Are you Renovating?

Have you hired a residential structural engineer yet?

The integrated structural systems of your home plays a pivotal role in its stability and safety. Before making any changes to your home, it is essential to have a licensed expert study the reliability of your existing structure, help detect potential issues, identify the causes of these problems and suggest necessary actions to be undertaken at the right time.

The expertise of a residential structural engineer goes beyond renovation. Below are some scenarios when their knowledge would prove essential:

 

HOME RENOVATIONS:

 

Determining if you need to hire a structural engineer for your renovation depends on multiple factors, such as the specifics, size, and complexity of the remodeling project.  

Small renovations around the house, such as changing the tiles of your bathroom, may not require the services of a structural engineer. 

However, in case of minor renovations that involve the addition of loads or removal of load-bearing walls, it is best advised to get a structural engineer to validate the property's structural soundness. If reinforcements are required for such projects, the engineer will draw a scope of work for the contractor to use.

Similarly, if a minor renovation such as remodeling your home to create an open floor plan requires a city permit, the structural engineer can help with a detailed report that can also be used to attain the required permits.

A structural engineer is a must when undertaking major renovations/remodeling projects such as adding a sunroom, a deck, or a room. An engineer will also be able to address matters such as interpreting the data contained in soil reports which analyze the soil conditions at the site, water management, and the foundation's strength, which are beyond the purview of an architect or designer.

 

 

HOME EXPANSIONS:

 

Home augmentations require several factors to be considered, such as the purpose of the expansion and utilization of the new additional space if you will be building out or building up, etc. An architect can help put together an initial plan, while a structural engineer can ensure the soundness of your project by adding the necessary details. 

For example, if you plan to expand your home by building out, the engineer will help you with the foundation plan and add structural details such as load-carrying structural systems for dead load, live load, and environmental load like seismic, thermal, and wind loads. 

Similarly, if you plan to build up by adding a few stories, the engineer will make recommendations on the basis of structural calculations. They will recommend if the foundation and floor joists can take additional weight or there will be a need for structural reinforcements.

These details will also help secure necessary building permits.

 

DETACHED HOME ADDITIONS:

 

Detached additions are usually treated similarly to new constructions, for example, a guest house, workshop, or garage. A structural engineer's involvement in such scenarios depends on the type of structure and selected style.

A structural engineer may be involved minimally if you decide on a prefabricated structure (a pre-built,or  ready-to-go structure), as these structures do not require load calculations or structural analysis unless additional options such as hardwood, granite countertop, etc., are planned to be installed. In such cases, the engineer will need to draw a foundation plan based on site-specific conditions to support the new structure.

In the case of a custom structure, a structural engineer will be more involved and ensure that the foundation can carry the load. Their value-add will also be from evaluating the soil at the site before building and creating a detailed structural engineering plan with correct sizing of beams, headers, and joists.

 

NEW CONSTRUCTIONS:

 

In the scenario of new constructions, If the homeowner decides to work on a ready-made standard house plan, a structural engineer will only be required if additional weight-bearing installations are planned.

In case of a custom new construction, an architect and a structural engineer will be able to come up with a sound design considering the landscape and soil.

 

INSTALLATION OF SOLAR PANELS OR WIND TURBINES: 

 

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious and moves towards sustainable living, the installation of home solar panels and wind turbines is at an all-time high. In such scenarios, the expertise of a residential structural engineer becomes of utmost importance, as they would be responsible for conducting a comprehensive feasibility study. 

For a solar panel, the engineer would assess the desired panel layout, and strength of the roof to support the additional weight. 

The structural engineer can also recommend the best equipment required for wind turbines and assist you with any specific zoning restrictions for the installation.  

 

DECK ADDITION:

 

Adding a deck to your home will often require a building department's permit, and it is necessary that the deck is built as per the local building codes for it not to be deemed illegal. A structural engineer can draw up a plan according to the local building codes, which will contain details such as size & dimensions, posts, footings, beams, details on the joists, stairs, and decking.

 

INSTALLING WEIGHT-BEARING OBJECTS:

 

Installation of large objects such as a deck, hot tub, pool table, or jacuzzi adds significant weight to the house's structure and may also exceed the acceptable weight per square foot. Such additions require the expertise of a professional residential structural engineer to avoid any potential risk of impacting the integrity of the foundation.

 

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO THE PROPERTY:

 

Common signs like cracks in the walls, uneven flooring, cracks around the window, and bowing walls indicate structural damage. In such cases, it is best to hire a structural engineer to do their due diligence and offer you the best possible way to repair the concerning foundational issues.

 

STRUCTURAL DAMAGE DUE TO FIRE, STORM, AND FLOOD: 

 

If your property recently experienced damages due to natural causes, including fire, storm, or flood, a residential structural engineer will be your best guide. They can assess the extent of the damage and recommend appropriate solutions for the foundation or structural work. The engineer may also provide you with an estimate on the expenses to restore the property.

Assessment reports by structural engineers also come in handy while claiming insurance for the damages caused by the calamity.

 

PURCHASE OF RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES:

 

Hiring a structural engineer can save you from investing in a degrading property when buying a new property.  

A structural engineer will evaluate the property from a general maintenance standpoint and highlight major structural problem areas—for example, the condition of the house roof or cracks on the wall. The information helps prepare the home buyer for future expenses and negotiate a more reasonable sale price.

Additionally, a home inspection by an engineer may also be necessary for a mortgage lender. 

In any of the scenarios mentioned above, you should look at hiring a licensed structural engineer who will ensure the integrity of your home's foundation. Structural engineers come with experience in varying fields of structures. For your home renovation or home inspection, seek the services of an engineer who specializes in residential work.

 

At Design Everest, a team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services. Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to info@designeverest.com for a free quote followed by a consultation.

 

 

*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.

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