A structural engineering inspection is a visual inspection, typically performed to validate that a building or home is free from any structural damage. This is done by a structural engineer on the building’s weight-bearing, seismic, and wind restraint components, such as the foundation, columns, framing, beams, etc. It involves analyzing specific elements of the building, or the complete structure itself, to assess its structural integrity.
On the other hand, a General Inspection performed by a home inspector entails examining the structure’s exterior and interior to identify defects. The inspector looks for irregularities like missing or cracked bricks, soft areas, scrutinizes gutters and downspout extensions, rotting on decks, and stains on windows. Once inside, he probes the foundation, exposed framing elements, plumbing, electrical wiring, and water management system.
Further inspection by a licensed structural engineer becomes critical if the home inspector finds issues with the framing components, weight-bearing regions, or the foundation. Structural engineers are specialists who have undergone rigorous technical training, equipping them to perform complex, scientific analyses of the structure to diagnose flaws and provide action plans for course correction.
When is a Structural Engineering Inspection Required?
There are huge benefits to getting a structural engineering inspection as a current or prospective homeowner, regardless of whether you’re the buyer or seller. An inspection report provides a great vantage point and accelerates the process for all parties involved.
When selling your home, a structural engineering inspection makes it easier to price the home correctly by determining issues and identifying the ones worth fixing and helps set a timeline for listing your property on the market. Obtaining building permits becomes a piece of cake with the inspection report at hand. For homebuyers, it helps to uncover any abnormalities in the home that might pose a serious problem in the long run if undetected.
An inspection becomes all the more imperative when structural issues are spotted vis-à-vis the building. Generally, a building does not show cracks in the concrete slabs or signs of sloping floors for at least its first ten years. But, if issues like wall cracks and settlement appear early on, it is a tell-tale sign of faulty design, construction defects, incorrectly done modifications, or external factors such as improper drainage.
If you’re planning an installation that involves additional load on the foundation, let’s say, new granite countertops, a pool table, or solar panels, consulting a structural engineer should feature at the top of your to-do list. The weight-bearing capability of the existing system needs to be analyzed and verified to support and distribute the load properly. On the other hand, an inspection is again recommended when a load-bearing item is removed, as the building needs adequate substitutes for the beams and columns being removed. If such activities are carried out without expert counsel, the home risks experiencing significant damage.
Drainage issues can present serious threats to the foundation of a building. Standing water, leaks, or an incorrectly designed water management system can hamper the structure’s integrity. An inspection may help pinpoint the root cause of the issues and recommend ways to remedy them.
Cracks that are greater than one-fourth of an inch may make the walls of the foundation bow. Such movements merit evaluation by a structural engineer so that long-term damage can be avoided. As long as the problem is identified, you’re good to go; left unaddressed, even small cracks can end up giving you major headaches.
If you’re thinking of remodeling your building, it might be useful to know that the building departments in most American states, including California, require a structural engineering inspection report. As per the California Building Standards Code, it’s illegal to erect a new building or make alterations to an existing structure without a permit from the building official of your area. A prior review by a professional helps ensure that there are no delays in your plans.
In case natural disasters like earthquakes, storms, or hurricanes have ravaged your property, licensed structural engineers, being third-party non-partisan entities, can help facilitate any insurance-related claims through their written findings.
How can Design Everest assist?
In case you happen to find yourself or someone close in one of the above situations, Design Everest can come to the rescue. Our structural engineering reports have been proven to get to the root cause of the issues afflicting your home or building’s structural integrity.
Contractors or inspectors tell homeowners that they have structural damage requiring extensive repairs, especially when the structure in question is slightly old. With spot-on insights and recommendations, we help decipher whether the damage is harmless or repair-worthy. Above all, the difference between an evaluation done by the Design Everest team and your local unlicensed contractor or builder is the expertise you get with us.
So, if you’re looking to get a structural engineering inspection or still have some questions unanswered, contact us and get a free quote. Our structural engineers will identify and mitigate potential problems with your structure and ensure its longevity and safety while allaying your fears.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.