Any building needs to be able to stand up to the forces of wind, gravity, and changes to the soil surrounding it. Structural engineers are the experts who assess buildings before, during, and after construction to ensure that they are structurally sound. Structural engineers don't just work on high-rises and other large building projects-- there are a number of reasons for a homeowner to hire a structural engineer. Some of the common reasons homeowners hire a structural engineer include:
Buying or Selling a Home
Both home buyers and sellers hire structural engineers to assess residential property. Sellers usually do so to ensure that their home is in good condition without any structural damage that may cause a deal to fall apart during the inspection period. It is in a buyer's best interest to hire a structural engineer to inspect a house before buying it-- the last thing any buyer would want is to purchase a home that has problems with the foundation or any other structural damage that can be expensive to repair.
Constructing an Addition
Building an addition is a great way to add square footage to a home, but an addition has to be done right. A structural engineer has the skills and expertise to inspect building blueprints and oversee construction to make sure that the addition's foundation is sufficient and that the construction of the addition does not cause problems to the structural integrity of the original house. A structural engineer will also be familiar with local rules and regulations to ensure that an addition is built according to code.
Major Interior Renovations
It is not uncommon for homeowners to do major interior renovations that drastically alter the layout of a home. These projects can greatly improve the appearance of a home, but walls, beams, and other interior structures should never be taken down without having a structural engineer inspect the area first. A structural engineer can identify which walls can safely be removed and which ones are load bearing and need to remain in place for safety reasons.
Signs of Structural Damage
As soil and dirt shift and become displaced around the property, a home's foundation can be damaged. Some common signs of structural problems include cracks around the windows, bowing or cracked walls, uneven floors, and door frames that no longer line up with the doors. When structural damage is apparent, it is important to consult a structural engineer for information about how to properly fix the problem.