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What Does a Structural Engineer Do When Designing a Custom Home?

Did you know there are more than 40 types of engineering certifications?

While all engineers are very important to their specialized fields, you might need one in particular for your building project.

image - What Does a Structural Engineer Do When Designing a Custom Home?
What Does a Structural Engineer Do When Designing a Custom Home?

Structural engineers can be crucial to the success of home or commercial building projects. So, what do they actually do, and what is structural engineering, anyway?

Keep reading to learn what they do and how you can use their services.


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  1. What Is Structural Engineering?

Structural engineering is the process of evaluating the structural integrity of a new or existing building and advising the construction process based on that information.

  • Residential Engineering

If you’re considering doing a major house project, or even a minor one, hiring a structural engineer can help you plan each stage of the process for a safe structure.

For instance, a structural engineer can tell you whether or not it’s safe to knock down a pesky wall to create an open concept room. They will determine whether the wall is minor enough to tear down.

If the wall bears a significant load, a structural engineer can direct you in erecting a column system or a supportive beam to take on the wall’s load and preserve the balance of the structure.

  • Commercial Engineering

Besides residential buildings, structural Engineers can also advise the construction of industrial buildings. They typically work as project managers due to the often large size of commercial projects.

Commercial structural engineering often involves the same safety checks as the residential counterpart. However, engineers may focus more on the foundation of the building is designed to stack high.

  1. What Specific Tasks Does An Engine Perform?

So what’s involved in the process of evaluating and building structures?  How do structural engineers specifically help you?

A structural engineer calculates the foundation and any potential impact damage. They also identify and order the tools needed for projects. Here are some of the most important calculations for structural engineers:

  • Gravity loads
  • Allowable stress and shear
  • Seismic and wind forces
  • Lateral loads

While architects and designers primarily map the layout and vision of the building, engineers advise can supervise the construction process to ensure that everything is built safely and to standard.

However, you can also hire architectural engineers who combine their design and engineering skills to perform both respective tasks.

You can also hire an engineer to assist you with building inspection. An experienced engineer can identify and provide solutions to issues such as water and termite damage, foundation ruptures, wall and ceiling cracks, and floor sloping.

  1. What Questions Should You Ask Your Structural Engineer?

Whether you have a residential or commercial building project, there are important questions to ask about the process and the engineer which apply to both:

  1. Do you have a license registered in my state?
  2. What is the scope of the project?
  3. How do you charge, and how much do you charge?

These are three of the most important questions you should ask your engineer directly.

First, you should confirm that your engineer holds a valid license issued in the state where they’re operating. This simply promotes accountability and prevents you from getting involved in any unsanctioned building activity.

Next, you’ll need to determine the scope of the project to establish clarity on construction goals. This just confirms that you understand what you want from the project, and the engineer knows how to supply that.

Knowing the scope of the project can also help prepare you for the third question, the matter of cost. If the scope of the project is relatively large, the cost will likely reflect how involved the process is.

What Is Structural Engineering?

If you were wondering “what is structural engineering,” it’s an essential process of evaluating the construction specs and procedures.

These engineers can take a great vision for a building and turn it into physical reality with safe standards and intuitive design.

Need more info for your building project?  We have tons of articles to guide you through, so feel free to take a look!


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