The stability and structural integrity of a building is the primary concern for a structural engineer. Many people think that structural engineers only work on commercial buildings and on infrastructure-related projects such as road and bridge construction.
The safety concerns that make it necessary to have a structural engineer onsite during a commercial or infrastructural building project are the same concerns that you should have for your residential renovation project, albeit on a smaller scale.
Here are a few projects that you should not undertake without consulting a residential structural engineer.
Anything That Involves Demolition or Deconstruction
If you plan to take down any part of your house during a home improvement exercise, you definitely need to have the opinion of a structural engineer.
Demolition- and deconstruction-related works will definitely impact the structural integrity of your entire house. You need to have a structural engineer certify that the demolition of your desired section of the house will not make it unstable, thereby rendering it unsafe for occupation.
As a general rule of thumb, if you intend to demolish or deconstruct any major feature of the house, you'll need a structural engineer.
The foundation of a house is its main source of stability and structural integrity. A house can only be as good as its foundation.
Minor repairs, such as filling and sealing of small cracks, will not create the need to involve an engineer. However, major foundation repairs, such as the replacement of stumps and the addition of underground living spaces such as basement areas, must be given the nod by a competent structural engineer.
Yes, the renovation contractor might know exactly which stumps to replace or exactly how the basement will become a reality, but they probably do not know what kind of impact this will have on the structural integrity of the building in the long run.
You cannot afford not to hire a structural engineer if you are doing major foundation repairs.
Adding an Extra Floor
If you intend to add a second or third floor to an existing building, you have to get sound engineering advice. This is because an additional floor will increase the weight of the house significantly, and an engineer needs to ascertain that your foundation, in its current state, can support the extra weight that will come with the additional floor.
For more information, speak with a structural engineer in your area.