What to Look for in a Residential Structural Engineer

A house under construction

 

As the cost of moving continues to rise, more and more people across the UK are opting to extend their homes in the quest for more living space.

Whatever your home improvement plans, be it a loft conversion or rear/side extension, you will require not only the help of a builder, but the expertise of a trusted residential structural engineer.

But with so many out there, who do you choose to work with and how can you tell if they’re the right person for the job?  We take a look at this branch of engineering and highlight what you need to look out for.

Residential Structural Engineers

 

Residential structural engineers consult with private homeowners, providing design and inspection work for renovation and home improvement projects.  The main duties of a residential structural engineer include but are not limited to:

 

Inspections and surveys

Residential structural engineers carry out inspections and surveys at properties for a number of different issues, including:

  • Subsidence (diagnosis and prevention);
  • Planning permission applications;
  • Structural surveys on properties that are being bought or sold;
  • Issues with drainage.

They also produce structural engineering reports, documents that provide a series of recommendations to homeowners in need of structure or foundation repair.

 

Extensions and conversions

Residential structural engineers are called in to provide structural designs or to assess the structural integrity of any work that has been carried out at a property.

 

Party wall disputes

A party wall is the dividing wall between 2 adjacent properties.  Party wall disputes arise when the owner of one property decides to carry out building work on or near the party wall without consent from the owner of the adjoining property.  Acting as mediator, residential structural engineers are brought in to devise a solution that satisfies both parties.

 

Plans and Calculations

You will need to call a residential structural engineer for any work that requires beam design or the removal or even installation of a load bearing wall.

 

Demand for Residential Structural Engineers is High

 

As mentioned, more and more people are opting to extend or convert their homes, so the demand for trusted engineers is higher than ever.

This is backed up Google – according to their Keyword Planner tool, just over 18,000 searches a month are made nationwide for the term ‘structural engineers’:

 

Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool displaying data on the keyword 'structural engineer'

 

With hundreds of engineering firms across the UK offering the same service, it goes without saying that a little a little due diligence is required when searching for a residential structural engineer to work with.

 

Choosing a Residential Structural Engineer

 

Consider the following when making your selection.

 

Reviews and Testimonials

The first thing to look out for are reviews or testimonials.  These should take pride of place on the website of any reputable engineering firm.

Word of mouth also goes a long way.  Aside from asking friends and family for recommendations, sign up to any forums that rate local engineering and building firms and don’t be afraid to ask for help on social media

 

Accreditations

Accreditations are formally recognised certificates, providing reassurance that an organisation is competent to perform a specific duty in a reliable, credible and accurate manner.

 

Above all, they are a sign of quality and should help narrow down your search.  Some of the professional bodies you should look out for include the Institution of Structural Engineers, Constructionline and UKAS.

 

A Multidisciplinary Approach

A residential structural engineer working on a design plan

 

Structural engineering companies tend to focus on either commercial or residential work, although a growing number offer a multi-disciplinary approach.

The main benefit of working with a multidisciplinary practice is the wealth of experience acquired from working on such a wide variety of projects, big and small.

HLN Engineering, for instance, has longstanding relationships with household names such as Tesco and Nationwide, consulting on large scale projects.  Conversely, a large bulk of our work revolves around renovation and home improvement projects in the local community.

The work we carry out on large scale commercial projects informs what we do at the local level, bringing to the fore an unparalleled level of technical expertise.

 

If you’re planning a house extension or need assistance with internal renovation work, contact one of dedicated consultants today.

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