So, you’ve saved up some money and you’re ready to knock down a wall or two and begin renovating.
Have you done a thorough check as to whether your home can withstand the changes you intend to make? Are the walls you plan on knocking down holding up your roof?
If you’re not too sure, this is where the expertise of a residential structural engineer comes in handy. Here are the top scenarios when you may need to hire the help of such an expert.
What Does a Residential Structural Engineer Do?
Discerning the difference between an architect, an inspector, a building contractor, and a structural engineer can get confusing. It may seem like they all do the same thing, but this isn’t the case.
A structural engineer is a licensed professional with a number of years of study and training under their belt. They are trained to analyze factors that exert force onto a structure i.e. gravity, wind, temperature, and pressure. They are also trained in analyzing how resistant a structure is to these forces.
In short, a structural engineer is skilled in detecting early warning signs of building failure or any potential issues with structural soundness. They then offer insight into the cause of these problems and an appropriate solution.
Top Reasons to Hire a Residential Structural Engineer
The knowledge of residential structural engineer is extremely useful in the following scenarios:
1. Major Home Renovations
When it comes to changing the layout of a home or adding on structures, hiring a structural engineer is any homeowner’s best interest.
Common home add-ons often include a studio, garage, in-law suite, glass sunroom or enclosed pool. A structural engineer will be able to determine whether this add-on could compromise the original structure of your home.
Additionally, they will ensure the foundation of your home is sound enough to carry the extra weight of an add-on.
When it comes to altering the layout, you may need to knock down a load-bearing wall. A structural engineer should be able to determine whether this type of renovation would compromise the integrity of the building or not. And ultimately, save your roof from collapsing on you!
2. Prefabricated Structures
What is a prefabricated structure? Basically, this is a ”ready to go” type of building, pre-built with a certain type of material and layout.
Typically, a prefabricated structure would not require the analysis of a structural engineer in terms of load calculations. This is only necessary if you plan on installing materials beyond the original plan of the prefabricated structure.
So for example, if you plan on adding heavy materials such as hardwood or granite to a kitchen, a structural engineer will need to be consulted.
This way, they can determine whether the materials and foundation of the structure could support this additional weight.
3. Installation of Solar Panels or Wind Turbines
So, you live on a large property and want to add structures to support a more sustainable lifestyle. A structural engineer would be able to determine whether your property and home could support this.
Some of the most common sustainable add-ons include solar panels and wind turbines. Here, a structural engineer conducts an overall feasibility study on the projected success of these add-ons.
With solar panels, they would assess the desired panel layout and whether the brand and type of panel would work with your roof. In addition, they also assess whether your roofing material could support the weight of solar panels.
When it comes to wind turbines, a structural engineer would perform a wind feasibility study on the best types of equipment needed for the site. They would also be able to update you on any specific zoning restrictions in relation to the installation.
4. Selling or Purchasing a Home
It’s always a wise move to hire the expertise of a structural engineer to conduct an overview of a new home you wish to sell or purchase. Most importantly if the home is newly built or quite old.
This is especially helpful if your home has been inspected and you’ve been told it needs extensive repair. If you have your doubts, consult with a structural engineer for more detail.
In some cases, a structural engineer may be able to save you a great deal of time and money when a situation is not nearly as severe as expected.
5. Construction of a New Home
This is a no-brainer, really. But if you plan on building your own home from scratch, you’ll need the expertise and guidance of a structural engineer.
They will be able to review the plans for your home and determine whether they are sound enough for the intended structure.
Overall, a structural engineer will assess the building site for size suitability, integration with existing features and environmental impact.
6. Structural Damage of an Old Home
If the house you are currently living in is old and you’re looking to renovate, a structural engineer is an important go-to before the renovations begin.
You may have noticed structural damage to your property already. Common signs include cracks in foundation walls, bowing walls, uneven floors, cracked windows, and sticking doors.
Essentially, a structural engineer would advise on the best type of renovation and any structural work that must be done beforehand.
7. Structural Damage Due to Wind, Fire, and Flooding
Tragedy can strike at any time and this includes severe structural damage to your home. All-too-often, this damage is caused by fire, storms, hurricanes, flooding, and even termites.
A structural engineer is able to assess the extent of the damage to your home’s overall structure. From there, they would recommend an appropriate solution in terms of foundation or structural work.
In addition to this, a structural engineer is able to determine whether certain issues existed before the damage to your home. This will help in the event you aim to claim for home damage from a claims adjuster.
Get to Grips with Worker’s Compensation Rights
Before you hire a residential structural engineer or renovation team, it’s important to check for appropriate worker’s compensation cover.
Without it, you could be held liable for any accident which takes place on your property or building site.
To learn more about worker’s compensation and industry healthcare, explore the rest of this blog for more.