Structural Engineer: When is it Needed?

Structural Engineer: When is it Needed?


Determining the moment when you need the advice of a professional is indeed a bothersome process because you start to factor in the cost. Often, when you are trying to find someone to do renovations on your property, you find yourself asking, is it time to consult a specialist? How do you go about hiring someone for a solid opinion? When do you need the help of a structural engineer?

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

A structural engineer is a licensed professional responsible for the design and structural analysis of a project. They are well-trained to comprehend and calculate the strength, rigidity, and stability of any structure. They assess the overall integrity against various forces that may affect the construction and decide whether the building can resist those forces.

Unlike inspectors or contractors that detect the early signs of potential issues, what sets a structural engineer apart is their capability to analyze the extent of the problem, its causes, and the best possible solutions for it. They guarantee overall safety by ensuring that the structure supports and resists the loads it bears.

When Do You Need a Structural Engineer?

Before hiring a structural engineer, you must first consider some factors. These are the focused points that may tell you when you need the help of a structural engineer: 

1. Structural Inspection for Potential or Existing Damages

Being aware of any damages to a construction project or an already existing structure is vital to safeguarding the investment you put into building the project. It is also essential for safety reasons and avoiding further complications that you might encounter due to the damages.

The impact of forces and elements like water, wind, fire, and or earthquakes can threaten the structure’s integrity. This in turn can cause severe damage if left unresolved. Walls that are cracking or moving, sagging ceilings or rooflines, uneven floors, and cracks around windows are all signs of structural damage.

If you notice any damages from inspectors, do not hesitate to consult a structural engineer for sound advice. They can assess and evaluate the extent of the damage and figure out how to solve or find a workaround that may mitigate the damages brought by the problems.

An example of this is when an earthquake hits a building. The foundation is not the only thing compromised but also the various structures inside the building like pools. If the moisture from any leaks causes corrosion to areas easily affected by it, it may cause long-term problems for the establishment, putting the whole place at risk.

These kinds of damages are especially true on roof areas containing some of the building’s HVAC machinery. That’s why it is crucial to install thermally broken roof hatches that lessen the heat transfer between the interior and exterior surfaces. These hatches resist harmful condensation and make it safer and easier to maintain said areas.

Another example is fire. If the building or just a section of the building suffered some fire damage, it might affect the other parts of the building. The structure could become brittle if it suffered fire damage. Hire a structural engineer immediately to assess the damages and decide whether the entire building is in danger of collapse.

2. When Renovating

This part is self-explanatory. Unless you can do it yourself, chances are you need to hire a professional to help you with the renovations. The structural engineer can communicate with other team members like the architect or the contractor. This way he can ensure that the designs and calculations do not have any errors and follow the proper guidelines that guarantee quality and safety.

A standard rule is that if you intend to renovate your building or office space, you need to hire a structural engineer that can assess and direct the construction of your renovations. It is safer to do so because they can apply their expertise to the entire construction process. This lessens the chances of costly mistakes to both your time and money.

Building modifications, changing doors or windows, loft conversions, removing or altering internal walls, retaining walls are all facilities that require the expertise of a structural engineer. They also apply their expertise to install solar panels, underpin foundations, chimneys, decks, or newly built custom homes.

3. When Adding or Altering the Layout of the Building

Any additional structures you add to the existing one might affect the integrity of the building. To ensure that the entire facility is safe and sound and that the foundation remains solid, you need to consult a structural engineer. They can provide you with options and even better ideas on making necessary adjustments if needed.

This factor also applies when you add additional weight to the building. You must first consult a structural engineer so that they can assess the building’s capacity for heavy loads. If, in their investigation, they find that the additional load is way beyond the ability of the building to carry, then consider asking for their professional advice on what to do next.

Finding the Right Kind of Structural Engineer

You can’t just hire any structural engineer to work on your project. Just like any other profession, some specialize in a particular area of focus. If you need one for residential-related works, hire someone with experience or who focuses on residential areas. This way of choosing also applies to industrial and commercial jobs.

Ensure that you hire someone with a license, years of experience, and good reviews or references. It would be best if you never employed someone who is not competent enough to do the job. This is simply because it could charge you more than what you intended to spend. Consider asking for advice on how to consult a legitimate one.


The safety and comfort of any establishment are the primary concern of all business owners. Having a solid structure for your enterprise that lasts long enables you to build a legacy you can leave for posterity. Such a mark is only possible with the help of a competent structural engineer. This is because they develop and maintain the integrity of this heritage.