Are you thinking about requesting a structural engineering report? Whether it’s for your own home or one you’re about to purchase, a structural engineer’s report can help you understand the property’s structural flaws, the best way to repair them, and the potential costs.
This post will explain what you can expect to find in a structural engineering report if you request a structural inspection.
Evaluation of the Property’s Structural Soundness
First and foremost, a structural engineering report will detail the findings of the structural inspection. During the inspection, the engineer you hire will assess a variety of the home’s structural elements and report on their condition and quality of construction.
Typically, a structural inspection will include the following components and establish whether they’re structurally sound or unsafe:
The Roofing Structure
The engineer will evaluate the structural members that carry loads of the roof. These include the beams, rafters, joists, and struts, but not the roofing membrane, flashings, shingles, or insulation. These load-bearing components of the roof are a vital piece of the home’s overall structure since they carry loads imposed by wind and snow. Since the roof is subjected to large amounts of moisture and possible leaks, its wooden members are vulnerable to water and moisture-related damage.
If the engineer finds evidence of defects to any of these members during the inspection or deems that the roofing structure may not be able to carry the design loads, they’ll note these in the report and recommend corrective action.
The Home’s Above-Grade Structure
A typical wood-frame single-family home is vulnerable to various types of damage, which can progress over time and create hazardous conditions. To find these defects, the inspecting engineer will evaluate and report on the condition of the home’s interior and exterior walls and floors. This investigation is typically non-invasive; instead, the engineer will assess parts of the exposed structure (crawl space, utility room, etc.) and look for obvious signs of flaws, such as:
- Sagging floors
- Warped walls
- Signs of rot or termite infestations
- Misaligned door and window frames
- Cracks in walls
- Moisture or dampness in bathroom walls
The engineer’s report will contain a detailed analysis of this part of the structure, including any defects or signs of approaching trouble, along with recommendations for repairs.
The Home Foundation
The foundation of any building is an essential part of the structure because it serves as an interface between the building and the soil on which it rests. This is why foundation issues can have severe repercussions on a home’s structural integrity or ability to carry loads as designed. In simple terms, a foundation that’s not adequately supporting the structure above will eventually damage the latter.
Unfortunately, signs of foundation trouble are usually obscure and difficult to point out. Dangerous cracks in the foundation or exterior walls can be dismissed as harmless (and vice versa), while sticking doors and windows are often attributed to heat and humidity rather than a misaligned foundation.
A structural inspection is a homeowner’s best chance to catch these problems early before they worsen. An engineer will meticulously examine the foundation, check for all known manifestations of trouble, and then present their findings in a report to the owner.
Soil and Erosion
Over time, a poorly graded site can lead to water accumulation around the building and possible erosion of the soil that supports the foundation. If the latter happens, the home may settle unevenly and become unlevel. This flaw may not be evident to the untrained eye, but a structural inspection should be able to flag it. If a home is found to be settling due to erosion, the engineer will note this in their structural report and suggest remediating measures.
Recommendations to Rectify Uncovered Defects
Another crucial part of a structural engineering report is the engineer’s advice on addressing the defects discovered during the initial structural inspection.
If an element is found to be unsafe, the engineer may recommend a total replacement and corrective measures to protect it from further damage.
For example, if structural members are found to be rotten inside the crawlspace, the engineer’s advice will include not only their replacement but strategies for keeping moisture or water out of the crawl space. The same goes for structures damaged by termites — a replacement alone will not suffice if the termite infestation is ongoing or if termites are likely to return in the future.
Likewise, if the home’s foundation has settled unevenly, the engineer may recommend adjustments to the grade of the ground level to steer rainwater away from the property.
If the initial structural inspection turns up flaws that warrant further investigation, the engineer may recommend performing further, more invasive inspections to get to the root of the problem.
Estimated Repair Costs
As a homeowner requesting the structural inspection, you can request the engineer to estimate the repair costs in the structural engineering report. If you do, you should understand that these estimates will be just that — estimated project costs based on historical data. Only a contractor will be able to quote you with any degree of accuracy based on the actual material and labor cost.
That said, getting an engineer’s estimate is still quite handy since you’ll be able to use these figures as a benchmark when you solicit bids from contractors.
Do I Need a Structural Inspection?
There are several reasons you may need a structural engineer to report on your home’s structure condition.
An apparent reason is that you suspect damage. For example, if you’ve come across evidence of termites or rot, it’s undoubtedly a good idea to get an engineer to assess your home and establish how severe the damage is. Likewise, if there’s been a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or flood, it only makes sense to verify that the home is structurally sound.
Another reason to commission a structural engineer’s inspection is if you’re about to buy a home and have doubts about the soundness of the structure. The structural engineer report costs you’ll end up paying may well be worth it if you uncover a major structural issue just in time to walk away from the purchase or at least renegotiate the price.
How Design Everest Can Help
Whether you suspect structural damage in your home or would like to assess a property before committing to a purchase, Design Everest can help you out with a structural engineering report. Our licensed engineers can evaluate your home’s structural soundness and prepare a report complete with their findings along with the most cost-effective remediation strategies. To get a FREE consultation, contact us today.