Should I Hire a Home Inspector or Structural Engineer?

Are you buying a new property or building a new home? You’re likely wondering if you should hire a home inspector or structural engineer. It’s important to work with the right professionals but many homeowners are unsure of who to hire to fit their needs. Get to know a little about structural engineers and home inspectors so you’ll know who to call.

Professional Home Inspectors

Generally, a professional home inspector is who you want to call first. Professional home inspectors take a look at the overall property to search for indicators that the services of an additional professional are necessary. They perform a visual inspection of the conditions of the home. They look at the foundation, the building structure, the interior, the exterior, the electrical system, the plumbing system and the mechanical heating and cooling system. Additionally, they survey the insulation and ventilation systems. If a home inspector finds something in your home that requires a more detailed and costly analysis of any system or structure, they’ll recommend the appropriate professional services. This could be a foundation or structural engineer.

When Should You Hire a Home Inspector?

Before setting a price for and selling your home you should hire a home inspector. In fact, most states require a thorough inspection before a house is even put on the market. A home inspector can detect problems, allowing you to fix them before running into problems with selling your home.

Generally when a house is on the market it’s already passed a home inspection. However, many potential homeowners feel more comfortable making a home purchase after having their own home inspection conducted. Not to mention a second inspector might detect problems the original inspector might have overlooked. That is to say, two inspections are better than one.

It’s also helpful to have your home inspected before starting any home renovations. It’s best to fix problems when other work is already being done on your home. Finding potential problems before investing in renovations can save you time and money in the future.

Structural Engineers

Structural engineers aren’t usually the first people needing a call. They are not the same as a contractor, inspector or architect. However, there may be overlap in the job descriptions. Structural engineers have the training best suited for looking for issues with load-bearing walls, foundation and other areas dealing with the structure of a building. The inspections structural engineers perform don’t typically cover areas such as drainage, wiring or faulty plumbing. It’s best to contact a structural engineer when the structural integrity of a home is called into question.

Structural engineers are trained to evaluate outside forces such as gravity, wind, temperature and air pressure that impact the structure of a home. They then determine whether or not the structure of the home is strong enough to withstand the forces. While contractors and inspectors determine that there may be a problem present, structural engineers determine the severity of the problem and how it could impact the home. Furthermore, once the problem is detected and analyzed, they come up with a solution to fix it.

When Should You Hire a Structural Engineer?

You should hire a structural engineer if you’re making additions to or altering your home. Structural engineers determine if the addition, whether it be an extra room or a garage, can be built without altering the structural integrity of the home. If you’re thinking about changing the layout of your home, be mindful that removing or making changes to a load-bearing wall can significantly damage the structure of your home. Hire a structural engineer to find out which of the walls in your home are load-bearing and how renovations could affect your home’s structural integrity.

If you’re looking to install solar panels or a wind turbine to your home or property, hire a structural engineer. A structural engineer can determine if the layout you’d prefer for your solar panels and the panels you want are a good choice for your roof. Many roof systems can’t support solar panels or the weight from those installing and maintaining them. The structural engineer will thoroughly analyze how much weight your roof can handle and suggest reinforcements if needed. For wind turbines, a structural engineer performs a wind feasibility study. They’ll let you know how much the equipment will cost and the best place to put it based on zoning restrictions.

If you’re selling your home or buying one, hire a structural engineer if a home inspector says there are structural issues with the home. An engineer will assess the damage to make sure you don’t overspend trying to fix the damage that might not be that bad. If you’re building a new custom home, you’ll need a structural engineer to make sure the plans for the foundation work. They’ll also make sure the area the home is built on is suitable, taking the environmental impact and other site features into consideration.

If you, a contractor or an inspector notice structural damage, hire a structural engineer to analyze the cause of the issue, how serious it is and how to fix it. Common signs of structural damage include cracks in foundation walls, bowing walls, uneven floors, cracks around windows, sticking doors or standing water in the basement after it rains.

Other threats to the structure of a home that require the services of a structural engineer include wind, fire, termite, water or flood damage. In these cases, a structural engineer will determine what the problem is and how to fix it. They’ll also be able to figure out when the issue came about so it can be told to a claims adjuster.

A professional home inspector is the first line of defense against problems with the structure of your home. If you or a home inspector notice any of the mentioned structural issues occurring in your home, contact a licensed, certified and insured structural engineer. Contact us at Hayman Engineering to make sure the structure of your home is strong enough to last for years to come.

Steven Baker