How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer?
Safety is the top priority when it comes to completing home renovations and additions, building new structures or repairing structural damage. Architects and contractors have the training necessary to design and build structures, but structural engineers are the pros with the skills and knowledge crucial for keeping projects on track and up to code. These highly trained professionals evaluate plans, inspect structures and design intelligent solutions to keep everyone safe while keeping structures sound. Learning more about the type of work these professionals perform and the costs associated with hiring them can give you a clearer idea of how a structural engineer benefits you.
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National Hire an Engineer Costs
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Table of Contents
- Structural Engineer Costs
- Structural Engineer Cost Factors
- What Is A Structural Engineer?
- How Does a Structural Engineer Differ from A Contractor or Architect?
- When to Hire A Structural Engineer
- DIY or Hire A Pro?
- Find A Pro
Structural Engineer Costs
Homeowners spend an average of $512 on hiring a structural engineer, with most homeowners spending between $319 and $708. The larger and more detailed the project is, the higher the cost of hiring a structural engineer becomes. Some professionals charge by the job, while others may charge by the hour. Average hourly rates of $100 - $150 are common.
Structural Engineer Cost Factors
The cost of hiring a structural engineer depends on several unique factors that most home improvement professionals don't consider in their fee schedules. For example:
- The longer the structural engineer has worked in the field, the higher his or her price may be. For example, recent licensees typically earn $18.57 to $26 per hour, while structural engineers with a decade of experience can expect to earn $30 - $42 per hour.
- Additional fees, including engineering tests, land surveys and lab work that the structural engineer has to hire others to complete, drive the price up.
- Some structural engineers base their contract fees on a percentage of the total building costs. Many experts estimate that consumers pay approximately 8% of a project's fees to the structural engineer. If you're building an addition for $100,000, it's reasonable to pay $8,000 to the structural engineer.
What Is A Structural Engineer?
To work as a structural engineer, individuals must go through extensive training that teaches them to analyze the different elements that apply force on a structure, which can be anything from a skyscraper to a set of outdoor stairs going down a hillside. These pros also make the final call about whether the structure is capable of withstanding those various forces, which include wind, gravity and pressure.
Structural engineers work on everything from personal homes and outbuildings to large public projects such as bridges and tunnels. Most structural engineers work as consultants or as part of a team that includes contractors and architects. In general, structural engineers have a bachelor's degree in engineering and a minimum of four years of work experience before they can apply for a license.
Structural engineers examine architectural plans and calculate energy loads such as earthquake forces, snow and wind to determine the best structural systems to use in the construction of a building. In essence, they make sure your structure is designed to last. Common structural systems include masonry, wood, steel and concrete, which form columns, beams and other support structures.
How Does A Structural Engineer Differ from A Contractor or Architect
It's not uncommon to confuse architects, contractors and structural engineers. Historically, architects in the 19th century handled this duty. However, as modern architecture began reaching toward the sky with taller buildings and larger structures, the science of calculating stresses and loads on a building’s structure became its own specialty. To help clear up any confusion between these three professions, consider the following:
- Structural engineers make sure structures can support the load of an architect's design and a contractor's work. This engineer also inspects, plans repairs, designs plans and completes evaluations for the structure of a building. The engineer analyzes the causes of any problems and determines the best solution.
- Architects focus on the function and aesthetics of a building. They design the structure, but they consult with structural engineers to ensure that the design works in terms of safety standards and building codes.
- Contractors and construction managers do the actual building and repairing of a structure.
When to Hire A Structural Engineer
In some cases, structural engineers aren't necessary. For example, if you have a building with just rafters and timber joists, an architect should be able to get the job done. More complicated structures and renovation projects often require a consultation with a professional structural engineer. In some cases, this might be required to receive the permits and building approvals needed to proceed with your project. Examples include:
- Building an Addition: Before you hire a draftsman to design a plan for a home addition, consult a structural engineer to ensure that the addition won't interfere with the integrity of your original structure. Structural engineers also can help ensure that the foundation is appropriately reinforced for the new addition and that all of the construction plans are up to code.
- Significant Renovations: Making large changes to the layout of the interior, such as knocking out walls, may open the space up, but it can also cause costly structural damage to your home. Structural engineers can evaluate which walls are load bearing and support the weight of the structure. They also can determine if the renovation plans might affect the integrity of your home's structure.
- Visible Structural Damage: Cracked walls, doorframes that don't work correctly, bowed areas on walls and cracks around windows all indicate that the foundation of a structure has shifted. Other possible structural damages include termite infestations and damage to retaining walls. A structural engineer can assess the problem, analyze it and recommend the most effective repairs.
- Building a Deck: The last thing you want is for your deck to collapse, which could cause bodily harm in addition to damage to the rest of your home. Structural engineers ensure that decks and steps all have the right number and size of supports.
DIY or Hire A Pro?
This isn’t a job that you can do on your own. Safety should always come first, and structural engineers are the best choice to make sure that your project is up to building codes and safety standards. Before you hire a structural engineer, consult with two or three different pros to get their references, verify their expertise and get a quote to make sure you're getting competitive rates. Ask prospective professionals questions such as:
- Are you licensed, and can you give me your license number? You can verify the structural engineer's license with the state to make sure there are no complaints against it.
- How many years have you been practicing as an engineer? The longer the pro has been working in this field, the more experience he or she has.
- Can I see your recent projects? Because of the significant documentation involved in their profession, most structural engineers have portfolios with photographs of recent projects.
Find A Pro
Structural engineers can evaluate any structural problems and come up with the more effective and cost-efficient solutions. They also review construction plans to make sure everything is done correctly, safely and according to building codes. Submit a free lead request today to connect with pros near you.
Last updated on Sep 21, 2016
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