Many engineering firms do not offer residential services. Understanding the residential market and the homeowner is exactly what one looks for when considering a residential structural engineer. Most of the work that they perform for residential homeowners begins with an onsite engineering assessment. Licensed, structural engineers make a site visit to the property. Survey the areas of concern and assess the severity of the structural problems in question.
After a site investigation is conducted, structural engineers prepare a structural engineering report outlining onsite findings, identifying probable cause of the structural issue and recommendations for remediation of any structural deficiency un-covered.
In many instances, they are called to evaluate a potential problem un-covered after a home inspection. In this scenario, the homeowner is usually selling their home. After a general home inspection is complete, sometimes a structural engineering inspection is also warranted. If this is the case, the home inspector will include this recommendation in his or her final home inspection report. Home inspectors are not qualified to assess and diagnose structural problems. Only a licensed, structural engineer can provide accurate assessments and solutions for a home buyer or seller.
If you are planning on renovating your home and it involves removing or cutting into load-bearing walls, adding living space by way of 2nd story renovation or addition with great rooms containing wide open spaces (no supports), a structural engineering consultation is warranted. If you are extending your living quarters, you will require design and engineering for permit documents. Your local building department will require a licensed, professional engineer stamp any new construction or major renovation.
Complicated structures or projects involving older homes (constructed before 1970) may also require early input from a structural engineer. Many times, homes constructed before 1960s-70s were built without prescriptive building methods. Today, state and local building codes exist to ensure contractors and home builders follow a set of pre-determined guidelines for building a home. A licensed, structural engineer is the best professional to assess the feasibility of any major home renovation project. A site visit can be conducted to evaluate potential, structural issues.
residential home issues requiring a licensed, structural engineer:
In the event of a natural disaster which caused damage to your home
Foundation wall cracks, settlement or movement
Interior cracking and framing movement
Sagging or bowing floors or walls
Termite, carpenter ant or rot damage
Undersized and damaged framing members
Sink holes and soil concerns
Flood, fire, water or high wind damage
Many people need the residential structural engineering services for designing their new houses. A new house needs a good design before the contractors or architects start designing the new buildings. The structural engineering service is usually needed in order to make sure that the structure of a house is strong enough. It also makes sure that the property structure is properly calculated. This is important to avoid any structural problems in the future. That is the reason why people use these services when they want to build new house buildings.
Remember the best interior and exterior finishes can be disappointing if the structure is not sound. Even with a well-built structure, weathering, lack of maintenance, ground and subsurface water movement, aging and storm events can result in problems that appear in many forms. At other times, a minor crack or movement is observed, and you just want some peace of mind that a more severe condition is not occurring.
If you suspect a structural concern with your home, contact a professional residential structural engineer to schedule an evaluation before a small problem becomes more serious. And also if you’re having a new home built you may want to consider having a residential structural engineer look at the plans and have an on-site look at the structures this builder is constructing before you commit.