What does a structural engineer look for in a house?

Structural engineers are professionals who are responsible for designing solutions which maintain the safety and structural integrity of everything from houses and flats to tunnels and bridges. Whether you are planning a major renovation or thinking of purchasing a property, in many situations it is advisable to engage the services of a structural engineer to complete a survey.

What is involved in a structural engineering inspection?

The majority of structural engineers will complete a visual inspection of a property, with the aim being to assess the structural stability of the buildings weight bearing components, including the foundations, frame, beams, posts and trusses. Initially, the engineer will be looking for obvious cracks in the foundations and walls, with multiple diagonal lines sometimes signalling that a problem exists.

Although hairline cracks are quite common, larger cracks can signal shifting in the foundations. Strong foundations are needed to ensure a house is stable, and although some minor shifting is expected, large cracks can be an indicator of a structural weakness.

Next, the inspection will move onto timbers in the property within the roof and flooring, which should be free from mould and rot. If timbers are exposed to moisture as a result of a leaking roof, burst pipe or poor drainage, this can lead to structural issues as the wood rots. Finally, the inspection will move onto the roof and chimney, with sagging roof lines often being an expensive issue to resolve.

Throughout the survey, the engineer will be looking for small details such as drainage issues, broken windows and doors which do not open properly, as these can all be early indicators of potential structural problems. Every engineering firm will offer slightly different reports, and what is covered can differ between inspections. However, in general the inspection will be examining various areas of the property to assess the soundness of the structure, and where there are key defects, the engineer will make recommendations into the repairs required.

Do I need a structural engineering survey?

In most cases, a structural engineering survey is completed when there are queries raised about the potential stability of a property. This may be ahead of a major renovation or extension, with the property owners looking to find out more about the position of load bearing walls and other key factors which can have a major impact on the project.

Alternatively, it is also very common to engage the services of a structural engineer ahead of a property purchase. If a general building surveyor has noticed potential structural issues, a qualified structural engineer can complete an inspection and offer advice on the possible causes and ways to rectify the issue. For example, wall cracks, bowing ceilings and cracked foundations can all be causes for concern.

This can provide prospective homeowners with the knowledge they need to enter into a purchase with peace of mind, negotiate a lower price, or to completely walk away from the purchase.

Simplify Structural Engineers – Professional Structural Surveys

Our experienced team regularly complete detailed structural surveys for prospective property purchasers and renovators, after all, no one likes a nasty surprise. To find out more about the types of inspections we offer and what is included and the price, please contact our team and we will be happy to go through the various options with you.