The Role of the Structural Engineer

Generally, the Structural Engineer of Record is responsible for the structural design of the overall project, including specification of the design loads, issuance of design documents, and review of submittals. The practice of Civil Engineering is extremely diverse, involving technical, legal, business & practical skills. It consists of various specializations like Structural Engineering, Project Management, Geotechnical Engineering and Surveying.

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There are times when a homeowner needs the services of a Structural Engineer. Serious structural problems in houses are not very common, but when they occur they can be difficult and costly to repair, not to mention the security and safety of you and your family.

In these cases, a structural engineer should be called out to investigate further and provide a professional opinion. But, before appointing an engineer it is essential you understand what they do and how they can assist in the project.

Qualifications and Experience of a Structural Engineer:

He has a very important job to do. A good structural designer would maintain a balance between what his clients want, and what can be considered safe.

Often the homeowner contacts an engineer directly. When doing so, it’s important to make sure the structural engineer is registered, professionally licensed through the state.

Also, you need to make sure they have the correct experience in the area of engineering they are being appointed for. To do this asks them to refer you to some previous, similar project they have completed and go check them out.

Structural Surveys and Reports:

Structural inspections are typically performed when a homeowner requires professional structural engineering evaluation of their existing home.

Structural concerns when selling or purchasing a home are the most costly items you can be faced with. There are various levels of surveys available but on properties over 25 years old a full structural survey should be commissioned by a qualified Structural Engineer.

1) Structural Engineer will help you along the way and helps you save money and protect your greatest investment.
2) Structural Engineer will help you identify repairs and corrections you may not really need.

Let’s see some structural engineering services:

Is your foundation cracked? A structural engineer can provide experienced foundation inspection and evaluation, including engineering designs and upgrades. Also, wall and floor cracking, leaning house, floor and wall cracks, damp or mould, water leakage, fire damage, etc and a structural survey should be commissioned to investigate, report and recommend remedial measures on these issues.

Designing a Building with a Structural Engineer:

If you are planning to build an extension to your home or build a new house then you are likely to appoint an Architect to prepare plans so that you can obtain Planning Permission and Building Regulations.

Such architectural designs will incorporate the need for steel beams, timber roof members etc., and even at times foundation strengthening. A structural designer is capable of calculating different loads and stresses acting on a structure and designing the structure to resist there forces.

Many times, there are constraints introduced by the client or architect. A structural designer might have limited options, but a good engineer would incorporate all the best practices in the industry.

Structural engineers can advise on preventive solutions for problems that may arise saving the homeowner future difficulties. Structural Engineers have a duty to their clients and the public to provide safe designs.

However, these days, the structures have become extremely complex. And as this complexity continues to grow, manual structural design has become very difficult. So, most of the work is done on computers. In fact, structural designing is a very interesting and innovative field.

Insurance companies & Structural Engineering:

Structural engineers are often called upon by insurance companies to help adjusters evaluate a loss in case of fire, flood, earthquakes, tornados, structural collapses, leaking roofs.

This can involve determining the cause of a failure, identifying and quantifying damage, designing repairs, or a combination of these tasks. When such disasters strike, insurance companies often rely upon local structural engineers.

In some instances the structural engineer is the only person who enters the attic, makes their way through a crawl space, or combs through a debris field at the site of a failed building.

At times, the insurance representative may be several states away and sees the loss only through the engineer’s report and/or the report of a local insurance adjuster. Insurance representatives generally need to know the following information:

– Is it damaged? And how badly is it damaged?
– How did the damage occur?
– What or who caused the damage?
– When did the damage occur?
– Was it previously damaged, unsafe, or not compliant with the building code?
– What repairs are necessary due to damage?
– What repairs are necessary due to previous damage and/or deficiencies?

Due to the increasing complexity of building codes and complicated repair issues, insurance adjusters are turning with more frequency to structural engineers to assist them in accurately adjusting claims.


Structural engineering is the science and art of designing and making, with economy and elegance, buildings, bridges, frameworks, and other similar structures so that they can safely resist the forces to which they may be subjected.

-Structural engineers are responsible for applying engineering principles to ensure that loss of life and damage to property during the lifetime of a structure due to the instability or lack of strength, serviceability or durability of a structure or part thereof is within acceptable and legal limits

-Structural engineers need to provide safe and effective solutions with a high degree of certainty to demanding structural requirements where the constraints are often complex and sometimes conflicting.

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