Guide to Hiring Structural Engineers

How do you know when you need a structural engineer? And how much will it cost? Our guide to hiring structural engineers tells you everything you need to know.

hiring structural engineers

What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering. Its applications are diverse, with a lot of what structural engineers do connected to designing structures such as buildings, bridges, tunnels and so on, as well as smaller, domestic building projects.
Structural engineer training is diverse and comprehensive, with structural engineer qualifications some of the most sought after in terms of university education today.
To successful complete structural engineer courses, a student can expect to spend four years or more studying full time at a prominent university.
As part of the qualification process, a trainee structural engineer will work alongside a senior practice colleague on a range of projects in order to gain the experience needed to work in this competitive industry.
Once qualified, they can join the Institution of Structural Engineers with most engineers choosing to act in a consultancy role on various projects.

When Would You Need Structural Engineers?

There are many people who are involved with building projects, repairs and renovations including architects and building contractors or designers. Knowing when you need a structural engineer is important, as it could make a big difference to the success of your project.

FOR RENOVATIONS

A local structural engineer can be useful when you are renovating a property, changes to which can affect the ability of the building.
In this sense, structural engineers will provide drawings and calculation which can be used by your building contractor and architect during the renovation work.
This information may also be needed as part of building control regulations, ensuring that any changes do comply with current Building Regulations. Some building permissions will also hinge on the reports and calculations on a structural engineer.
Whether or not you will need local structural engineers will depend on the project but if your renovation work includes the following, find a local engineer:

  • Building an extension
  • Modifying doors, walls and supporting walls
  • Fitting solar panels
  • Loft conversions
  • Removing internal walls
  • Underpinning doors
  • Removing a chimney breast

This is in no way an exhaustive list but as a general rule, any changes to the structure of a property that requires building control approval will need technical information that structural engineers would produce.

PROBLEMS WITH THE STRUCTURE OF A PROPERTY

For example, if there are signs of subsistence, movement in the walls, sagging ceiling or roofline etc., a structural engineer will carry out an inspection.
You can appoint an engineer yourself or it may be that a building surveyor appoints a structural engineer when there are concerns relating to structural damage. An engineer will pinpoint the problem, the causes and possible treatment and solutions.

AN EXPERT WITNESS

If there is a structural issue to your home, and you are in dispute with another party, there may be a court case to decide the final solution on the matter.
Structural engineers are commonly used in such cases to produce independent reports that look at the structural issue or issues, how they could have been caused and so on.

How Much are Structural Engineer Costs?

Fees are based on the amount of time a structural engineer will spend on an individual project, as opposed to the size of it. For example, a loft conversion can be more complex that a warehouse building renovation for example.
Typical fees range between £350 to £1200 for the majority of cases.
Site investigations and reports depend on the nature and extent of the defects, but anticipating costs of £350 to £750 should help your budgeting needs.
Expert witness reports etc. can cost thousands of pounds, depending on the case and the amount of time it consumes.

How to Find a Structural Engineer

To find local structural engineers, and one with the correct level of qualifications, look at the register maintained by the Institute of Structural Engineers.