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The Importance of Structural Engineering

Engineering is the art of combining the vision with the practical. Designing a structure that will meet the design requirements with the minimum amount of materials. In other words, get it to work and meet the codes while always striving to eliminate unnecessary materials. Anyone can engineer a project that might work by simply putting more material in it until they think it will work. The challenge is to make the project functional while keeping costs in mind.


A structural engineer has expertise and training in areas concerning the structural soundness of your home. ... This is also the professional to call when your existing home has issues like foundation problems, sagging roofs or sliding chimneys. They help figure out ways to reconstruct those areas safely.


Structural engineers are licensed professionals who are trained to analyze the factors that exert force, such as gravity, wind, temperature, and pressure, upon a building and to make the call about whether or not the structure can hold up and resist those forces. They have training in areas concerning the structural soundness of buildings. While there may be some overlaps, a structural engineer is not the same as a contractor, inspector or architect.


Contractors and inspectors are skilled at detecting early warning signs that indicate there may be a problem, but engineers can analyze the severity of the problem, what is causing the problem, and what an appropriate solution would be. While architects concentrate on the aesthetics and functionality of a building, the structural engineer makes sure structures support and resist the loads to which a building subjected.


Reasons to hire a structural engineer:

Building additions or altering a house’s layout

Purchasing or selling home

Building a new home

Structural damage

Water, fire, wind or termite damage


Some specific areas the engineer would inspect:

Exterior and Interior, Roof

Framing, Crawl Space and Basement Water


The 3 phases of an engineers visit:

The first phase is a structural site visit where the Engineer visually inspects the structure and looks for structural inadequacies such as over spanned beams & joists and movements such as settlement and slippage.  The engineer will also determine the degree of structural concern from Typical with no recommended repair to major with required repairs. If no repairs are required a letter will be generated so stating.        

Second Phase: If structural repairs are required, the second phase will be a detailed report & design that will bring the structure back into structural stability. The design will try and bring the structure back into its original alignment, but this is not always possible.                                     

Third Phase: The last phase is providing several site visits during the actual repair and then providing a final letter, with PE Stamp, stating that the repairs have been performed as recommended and that the structure is now structurally stable.


Some other tasks that are taken on in residential engineering:

In the beginning stages of a new community, your residential engineer lays the groundwork by conducting research on various areas, selecting the best one for your purposes, creating a plan for that area, and working out cost estimates for the project.

It can be challenging to obtain the appropriate permits and/or rezone if necessary, but an experienced residential engineer can guide you through this process and make it as painless as possible.

This can be part of the initial planning process or done separately. Surveying involves accurately and specifically locating boundaries and borders as well as measuring elevation throughout the site. This information is used in the design phase and can play a role in the rezoning/permitting process.

Management of stormwater and water resources design. It is important to have a well-designed system in place when it rains; if not, all the residents will be left with standing water that can damage their homes and create problems throughout the development. Additionally, it is necessary to find a sufficient source of fresh water for the community and ascertain the quality of that water.