Last Updated on February 4, 2021 by Admin
The short answer to this often asked question is usually ‘yes’. A useful analogy would be to ask whether you need to see a consultant before having an operation. How would the surgeon even know what to operate on and how to go about it without the consultation and relevant scans? A structural engineer, much like a medical specialist, lays the groundwork for the work you need carrying out and is as fundamental to your extension as the very building materials themselves.
What does a structural engineer do that an architect cannot?
There are key differences between architects and structural engineers. An architect is concerned with the project’s design, while the structural engineer deals with the building’s structural integrity.
You can discuss the need for a structural engineer with your architect if you already have one on board. In cases where you are only knocking down an adjoining wall to create an open-plan space, you will probably only need a structural engineer and not an architect.
With a more substantial extension, you will probably need both. The need for an architect in addition to the structural engineer is largely related to the complexity of your specified project.
The case for a structural engineer
When you are making changes to your property in the form of an extension, to give yourself or your family vital extra space, you will usually be altering your house’s structural integrity. Should this be true, which in most cases it is, you will need a structural engineer to ensure the safe completion of the extension.
How do I ascertain whether my project will alter the structural integrity sufficiently to warrant a structural engineer, though? Well, the best way to find out is to ask a qualified structural engineer.
A structural engineer working on your project will take into consideration a wide variety of factors in order to ensure the structural integrity of your building will remain intact. Such factors include:
- The extension’s location and position relative to the original building
- The vertical and horizontal loads
- The structural supports needed
- The materials that will be used
Using these pieces of information, the structural engineer will carry out calculations and structural drawings that will be passed on to the architect and builder to ensure structural stability.
If you need to engage a structural engineer, it would be very useful if you could provide to the engineer, Architectural building control regulations or at minimum, planning application drawings; thus the engineer could better understand your requirements.
Finding a good structural engineer is essential, and you can ask your architect (if you have one) for a recommendation. You will want to ensure that your structural engineer is professionally qualified under ICE or IStructE and used to working on residential projects as this experience is crucial.