When one thinks of a house, one thinks of emotions like comfort, security, and most important of all, safety. For most people, a house is a one-time investment, and probably the biggest investment in their lives.
When making this investment, it is important to be sure that one acquires a refuge they can feel safe in. This is where Structural Engineer inspections come in.
Structural Engineer inspection is the process to ascertain the overall strength and reliability of a house’s foundation and the structural integrity of its construction, in order to make sure that it will stand the test of time.
A house can have the prettiest paint, the most exquisite furniture, or state-of-the-art AI home systems, it is all useless if it is not built to last.
So, let us take a step back and familiarize ourselves with some key concepts.
Structural Engineers: Who are they?
A structural engineer, or a structural inspector, is a professional that specializes in ascertaining the structural health of a building by focusing specifically on the basic weight-bearing structures of that building. They are civil engineers who are hyper-specialized.
They need to have extensive knowledge of load-bearing structures like foundations, walls, columns, basements, and roofs; while being intimately familiar with the forces acting on such structures like gravity, wind, seismic forces, etc.
It is also important for them to be well versed in all kinds of basic building materials.
A structural inspector must possess:
- At least a 4-year bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from an accredited university
- At least 4-year experience working under a professional engineer prior to getting their license
- License and accreditation from the local state council
These conditions need to be met before a professional can be reliably trusted to perform a Structural Engineer Inspection.
Difference between Home Inspection and Structural Engineer Inspection:
Most people who have bought or sold a property must know of Home Inspectors. They are professionals who inspect the house in its entirety to provide an assessment of its overall condition. This general inspection is not to be confused with a structural inspection.
A structural engineering inspection is different from a regular home inspection.
A home inspector performs a general inspection of the HVAC system, electrical wirings, plumbing, and other structural components, whereas a structural engineer home inspection is razor-focused on the load-bearing structural components.
A good example of this would be to consider your home inspector as your PCP who monitors your overall health, and refers you to a specialist (structural engineer) for a consult (structural engineer inspection) if he finds something wrong with a particular body system (foundations and load-bearing structures of the house.)
When you need a structural engineer inspection:
- When buying a house: For most Americans, buying a house is the single biggest investment in their lives. It is important when doing so to make sure that the building you are investing in is structurally sound, and is built to last.
A structural home inspection will provide you with peace of mind and confidence. It would also help you be proactive in your price negotiations if any deficiencies are found.
- When selling a house: Structural Engineer Inspection is also vital when selling a property. A bill of good health from a structural inspector will inspire confidence in the buyer and make you confident of your asking price.
And if the report finds some vulnerabilities, it gives you time to adjust your estimates and saves you from embarrassment later.
- When remodeling and renovating: Structural engineer inspections are especially important when remodeling or renovating a house. Whether you are adding a wall, building a second story, adding solar panels, or performing any other type of construction, you need to be sure that your new plans will not compromise the overall integrity of the structure.
Small miscalculations in this regard can prove painfully costly in the long run, so it would be extremely prudent to stay one step ahead and make sure you get your structural engineer inspection out of the way prior to moving forward with expansive and expensive plans.
- After natural weather damage: Natural phenomena like storms, earthquakes, and others can severely impact the lifespan of a building. Sometimes the damage caused is extensive and visible, while other times it accrues over long periods and hurts in the long term.
It is a smart move to get a structural engineer inspection post such incidents to save oneself from harm in the future.
- For miscellaneous deficiencies in existing homes: It is estimated that the average age of an American house is 37 years, which means if you are an existing homeowner, you are probably living in a house that was built decades ago. Due to faulty construction, or other miscellaneous reasons, a house can develop fault lines over the years.
Some signs one should be on the lookout for include slanting walls, sagging ceilings, windows that stick, doors that jam, a bulge in concrete, moisture in the basement or crawl space, cracks in the ceramic, sloping floor, ice dams, or most notoriously, cracks in the foundation.
Small cracks are normally not an issue when it comes to foundations. However, if you are seeing horizontal, vertical, or step cracks ¼” or larger, bowing foundation walls, or movement of any kind, you should have a structural engineer inspection performed to further assess the condition.
On the other hand, heat loss from a house, snow cover, and outside temperatures interact to form ice dams. Dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and pour into your house. This can cause complications such as peeling paint, warped floors, stained and sagging ceilings.
A structural engineer inspection will be helpful in order to isolate and remedy this issue.
How to prepare for a structural engineer home inspection:
A structural engineer inspection is a visual inspection, so it is extremely important that the areas to be examined are easily accessible for the structural inspector. One has to make sure that the foundation, attic, basement, and all such areas to be examined are cleared of dirt and debris.
Any overgrown shrubbery needs to be trimmed and any water leakage has to be taken care of. Do note that one has to be specific in the structure they want to be examined during the structural engineer inspection.
This helps the inspector zero in on the issue, and makes the whole process more efficient.
Things a structural engineer will examine:
A structural engineer examines structures like the foundation, basement, framing, roof, interior and exterior walls, and brickwork and masonry. A structural inspector can tell you if your problems are due to an inadequate water drainage system, soil erosion, unfit foundation designs, pest damage, masonry issues, or other problems.
The goal of the inspection will be to make sure that the structure is sound not only at present time but would also be able to withstand the test of time for the foreseeable future.
After the structural engineer inspection is done, the structural engineer will write a detailed report that would either act as a testament to the building’s structural health, or a manual on the existing structural deficiencies, and recommendations on how to fix them. This shall greatly help the contractor in remedying the issues identified.
Cost of a structural home inspection:
Most structural engineers charge by the hour. The average price ranges from 60-100$ an hour, but note that this number fluctuates greatly depending upon the nature of the work required.
An average structural inspection takes at least 2-3 hours and as such the cost of an average inspection should be kept in mind at around 200-300$.
This may seem a lot but it is a petty change when compared to the cost of fixing the type of structural damage that may occur if a house is not inspected in time. Home foundation repairs cost on average about 5000-7000$ and can even exceed the 10,000$ mark, while the average cost to install a new roof hovers around the 8000$ mark due to the labor extensivity of the process.
The amount of money spent on a structural engineer inspection is extremely prudent in comparison in the long run.
Structural Engineer Inspection in Sydney:
We at Omega Services understand that a house is more than brick and mortar, it represents hopes, emotions, and aspirations. We are committed to making sure your house is safe and built to last, and as such, provide structural engineering inspection services all over Sydney.
If you are ever in need, instead of googling “Structural Engineering Inspection near me” simply contact us to receive services directly from the best in town.