When to hire a Structural Engineer

When should you hire a structural engineer?

There are many occasions that require the services of a professional structural engineer, and most of them are related to the construction of buildings.  In Colorado, and most other states, new construction and addition or remodel projects require engineered documents to be stamped by a registered (licensed) professional engineer familiar with the scope of the project.  Specifically, when new foundations will be poured, new structural framing members added, or existing structural framing members removed or modified, a structural engineer should be consulted.  A structural engineer should be consulted for construction of both residential and commercial-use buildings.  If the building will be inhabited by people or livestock, used for storage, or otherwise affect public safety, a structural engineer should be consulted.

Other structures that require professional structural engineering include retaining walls, freestanding signs, transmission towers, and above-ground storage tanks.  Although these non-building structures are often overlooked, they can have a significant impact on the safety of public and private property.

Additionally, it is common practice to have a structural engineer perform an observation of a structure during a real estate transaction.  These observations are intended to provide expert opinion regarding the existing conditions and provide recommendations for safe occupancy.

Likewise, if a structure was affected by fire, water, termites, or mold a structural engineer should perform an observation of the structural members.  The water used to extinguish a fire can be just as destructive as the fire itself.  Broken water lines can also lead to significant structural damage.