5 Things to Know When Hiring a Structural Engineer

Embarking on construction projects when you do not have prior experience working with a Structural Engineer might feel overwhelming. In fact, we find many homeowners don’t even know what services Structural Engineers offer or the fact that they can hire them directly. Yet, Structural Engineers play an essential role in the design and construction of new buildings. Also, for certain repair projects, such as foundation cracks or tree damage, Structural Engineers are your primary source to complete the project.

Why You Need a Structural Engineer

Construction projects have two main components that impact the building’s integrity.

  1. Materials – The quality of the materials used in construction make a difference. You need an expert that understands the required materials to create and maintain structural integrity.
  2. Structural Integrity– The design and execution of the project depend on the knowledge and experience of the project’s Structural Engineer. They specify the materials, member sizes, and connections required to meet Building Codes.  

From the design to the final property inspections, Structural Engineers work to create and implement the details needed to make the building sound.

Five Things to Know Before You Hire a Structural Engineer

Before you hire a Professional Engineer ask the right questions to ensure you know the firm you hire is qualified for the project.

  1. Certifications and Associations

On the most basic level a Structural Engineer must have a degree from an accredited university. A post-graduate degree is preferred. In addition, there is a minimum of 4 years’ experience training under a licensed Professional Engineer to be eligible to take the test for licensure.  Licensure is required in each state that the Engineer provides services.

In addition, look for structural engineering firms with memberships in industry-related associations, like the National Association of Home Builders, Professional Women in Building and American Society of Civil Engineers. These relationships connect the Structural Engineer to the construction industry.

  1. Engineering Specialties

Specialties are areas of expertise for the Engineer. These are the areas where the Engineer has a high level of experience or specialized training such as Structural, Civil, Transportation, Environmental, and Wastewater. Within the Specialty of Structural Engineering, each Engineer will also specialize in certain types of structures (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.) and different materials utilized.

Look for specialties in addition to the right certifications and associations. While an Engineer may have a degree and certifications, you want to know they understand how to successfully execute your type of construction project.

  1. Familiarity with All Ordinances

Structural Engineers are legally obligated to adhere to published building codes. From international building codes to local building codes, the Structural Engineer you hire must understand how to ensure the compliance of your construction project.

The bottom line is if a Structural Engineer can’t speak confidently about code requirements, do not hire them. It isn’t worth the risk!

  1. Project Estimates

Accurate project estimates determine the budget and timeline for construction projects. While both the cost estimate and project schedule vary and require adjustment over the course of the project, an experienced Structural Engineer knows how to create reliable project estimates.

In addition, an experienced Structural Engineer understands the external nuances that impact the project. As such, the Engineer develops project estimates with these nuances in mind to provide a range and set realistic expectations for the client.

  1. Previous Project Experience

Nothing outranks experience when evaluating who to hire for construction projects. Before you hire a Structural Engineer ask for references and referrals. In addition, ask about their past project portfolio. Look for examples of previous projects similar in type and scope to your project.

While everyone needs a chance to gain experience, a professional structural engineering firm will have examples of proven success in previous projects.

Hire the Right Structural Engineering Firm for the Job

At Russell Rowland, our team of Structural Engineers serves clients throughout the Southeast. We have a track record for success based on many years of experience providing expert structural engineering consulting and design services.

Contact us today to discuss your project needs and how we can help bring your project to life!