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If you have ever purchased a used car, you understand that you wouldn’t take the keys until you had the vehicle thoroughly inspected by a professional mechanic. A mechanic can assess the vehicle, its condition and any problems you may run into in the future. Although it might not seem so, purchasing a used vehicle is very similar to purchasing a house. Except, in purchasing a home, the potential issues can be much more expensive. Therefore, the question that homebuyers should ask themselves is whether to hire a home inspector or a structural engineer to assess the property’s condition.

Home inspectors are hired to review an entire property, looking for damage and potential signs of issues with the property’s structure. By doing so, they are able to provide a general report of the overall condition and value of the home.(1) Although home inspectors are a great resource for looking over an entire property, often times they may identify an issue that may be outside of the scope of their expertise. In this case, a good home inspector will recommend the use of a structural engineer.(2)

A structural engineer is far more specialized; he or she will primarily address the condition of the structural integrity of the residence. In doing so, the engineer is able to identify issues affecting the structural well-being of the properties in question, and can even provide recommendations to fix these structural problems.(3)

Problems affecting a building’s structure are among some of the most expensive to repair in a house. For extensive structural problems, a homeowner may be looking at costs as high as $10-15,000, or perhaps even greater.(4) Although a home inspector may be able to identify a crack in a home’s foundation, or wear to a support wall, the inspector most likely will not have the expertise to declare the potential impact these issues may have on the property, nor the impact these problems may have on one’s wallet.

Residential structural engineers can also act as a great resource for “double checking” a home inspection. Home inspection is a rather unregulated industry, so it is important to hire a qualified individual to conduct the inspection. Hiring a structural engineer to check the structure and thoroughly address all signs of damage that a home inspector may have identified is a great way to confirm that all potential issues have been assessed before such a large investment is made.

Although it may seem pricey to have a property inspected both by a home inspector and a structural engineer, buyers and homeowners could save themselves many thousands of dollars and countless headaches caused by uncovering damage that had gone unrecognized in an initial home inspection. Identifying potential structural issues prior to closing on a property can give you the peace of mind that you’re making the right deal and leverage to negotiate a better deal before closing.




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

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