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When is a Licensed, Professional Structural Engineer Needed?

There are times in life when we need trusted advice of an experienced professional. It may be a physician, an accountant or a lawyer. We trust them as they are giving us unbiased, helpful advice to improve our health, finances or other important aspects of our lives. Their direction is crucial and we depend on it.

structural engineer M Taylor Enterprise

When it comes to our home and, specifically, our home foundation, we also depend on the experts to advise us on needed repairs. Most homeowners don’t even think about their home foundation until there is a disaster such as settling or even collapse.

The health of your home’s structure, as we have discussed in past blogs, is crucial to your family’s health. If there are cracks or settling that will affect the entire home, which in turn, may cause serious health problems for you and your family.

In some cases, your home foundation needs to be seen by a structural engineer. According to the Structural Engineers Association of California, structural engineers: is:

“…create drawings and specifications, perform calculations, review the work of other engineers, write reports and evaluations, and observe construction sites. A Professional Engineer’s license is required in order to practice Structural Engineering. Most practicing structural engineers design and analyze buildings, bridges, power plants, electrical towers, dams, and other large structures that are essential to life as we know it.”

Structural engineers will come to your home or business and analyze your structure. They know a lot about structural systems, foundation damage forensics, home foundation repair and residential foundation inspections. They should have a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering and, at least five years of guidance by a professional engineer prior before they are licensed. Their education along with a technical background make licensed structural engineers the most qualified to analyze a home foundation.

So, now that you know about structural engineers, the next big question is when should you bring in this “heavy hitter” to inspect your residential or business foundation? There are five signs of when your foundation needs a structural engineer:

  1. Termite, water, fire or wind damage: One of the most common reasons is from catastrophic damage caused by pests or natural disasters. These threaten the integrity of the foundation and can lead to costly repairs. A structural engineer can inspect the foundation and do a forensic investigation which will determine if there was a foundation issue before the event. This information is then used by the claims adjuster.
  2. Structural damage: You or your home repair contractor may have noticed cracks, water damage or other signs of structural damage. Damage may include bowing walls, windows, and doors that don’t close completely, cabinets that are askew, uneven floors or other issues we have covered in previous blogs.
  3. A new addition to the home (rooms, garage, etc.): Whenever a homeowner makes a major addition to their home, whether it be a garage, studio or even a pool, this can be considered a major change to the structure. A structural engineer can figure out if the home foundation’s integrity will be compromised by the new addition. They can confirm if the foundation is adequately reinforced and that it can carry the weight of the home’s structure.
  4. Buying or selling the home: You are about to make the largest transaction in your life when you purchase or sell a home. Should a home inspector report that there is a major structural problem, bring in a structural engineer to inspect the foundation. They may save the homeowner or buyer a large amount of money if it isn’t as bad as first reported.
  5. Building a new home: A structural engineer can look at your plans and property and determine if they are sound and best for their planned use.

As you can see, a licensed, experienced, professional structural engineer can be an invaluable asset in analyzing the home foundation. It is wise to get the structural engineer’s opinion along with the home repair contractor, home builder or home inspector.

M Taylor Enterprise, Montgomery County, Maryland, has licensed and experienced professional structural engineers and foundation repair specialists who can do a thorough review of your structure and make recommendations. Call us for a consultation at (301) 649-3406 or email us at matt@mtaylorenterprise.com.