You are going through a home remodel and a contractor says, “You are going to need a structural engineer for that.” Or you have a water leak, and your insurance company says, “You need a sealed report from a structural engineer.” How do you go forward from there? There are many situations where a structural engineering inspection is necessary. This post will go over some of the many reasons you may need one and exactly what to expect.

To start off, just what is structural engineering? Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering, and its applications are diverse. A great deal of what structural engineers do involves designing structures such as buildings, bridges, tunnels, etc. It’s the structural engineer’s responsibility to calculate different forces (such as hurricane, wind and earthquake forces), design the structure to fit a pre-determined layout, and decide on what structural systems to use. The structural systems include steel, concrete, masonry, wood and other materials from which the engineer selects beams, columns, and other members that make up the building support. Structural engineers are involved in the design of new buildings, renovations and repairs and also handle the demolition of buildings. Additionally, structural engineers inspect structures before and after construction to determine if there are any structural concerns and ensure proper construction. All of this means that they are the best qualified to help you out when there is a concern related to the main structural components of a building.

Some reasons you might need a structural inspection include assessing many issues in a home and providing cost effective solutions. For example, if you find water leaks, mold, or cracks in walls, an engineer can inspect these areas and provide solutions for both fixing your home and preventing it from happening again. This is helpful especially when buying or selling a home and you want to confirm the building has no major issues that will be costly to fix in the future. Another reason a homeowner might need a structural engineer is if you want to add an addition or renovation to your home. Even if your renovation is not directly related to the structure of the building, some contractors want the extra inspection just to ensure none of their work could have a long-term effect. In general, if someone who works in the home repair or building business, it is best to trust them when they say “Go get a structural engineer.”

So now that you’ve decided to move forward with an inspection, what can you expect? With ORB Engineering, we try to get our inspections scheduled within 5 business days. On the day of the inspection, we usually require the owner or their representative to be present. ORB’s engineers will assess the area of concern, take photos and measurements, and possibly even use special tools to measure additional information, such as the levelness of the floor or the amount of moisture present in a water stain. All of ORB’s inspections are non-destructive. This means we will only inspect what is visible to us at the time. We do not tear down drywall or dig up foundations during inspections. After we have looked at the area of concern, we will take our pictures and notes back to the office and write up a report. The whole time at the inspection can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the building and the area of concern.

ORB will provide you with an engineered signed and sealed letter with all the findings of the inspection, along with any repair recommendations and site pictures, within 10 business days. This report can be used for your insurance company in order to move forward with repairs. It can also be provided to a contractor so they can provide a quote for repair services. Some reports are even used for city/county building departments to certify a building is structurally sound and up to code.

So now that you know all the steps to a structural inspection, give ORB a call and get a quote for your next inspection!

More to come soon.

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