When to consult a structural engineer

A structural engineer has the expertise to prevent potentially long-term, costly problems for your self build or home extension

By Hugh Metcalf | 10 February 2021

Expert help is essential when undertaking a self build, extension or major renovation project. Few homeowners are able to tackle the design and construction themselves. A structural engineer can play an important part in the process.

Alan Lace-Evans, Technical Director at independent civil engineering  consultancy Perega, explains the benefit of consulting a structural engineer during your project. 

What is a structural engineer?

A structural engineer analyses, designs, plans, and researches structural systems and components to deliver on the overall design objective and cost constraints. They look at the property’s superstructure, foundations and water drainage systems. So, the primary concern is to deliver the building’s integrity and ensure the occupier’s safety.

Why do you need a structural engineer?

A structural engineer usually becomes involved in a project via the architect. On many Grand Design-type projects, the proposed building needs to fulfil many demands. It is not possible to achieve a good result without their input. Understanding material performance is a key part of the skillset. Engineers advise on how best to work with everything from steelwork and reinforced concrete to timber, masonry, glass and carbon fibre. In this way, structural engineers make the design vision a reality within the confines of what’s possible. So, this is why it’s so important to work with a trained professional. They understand the potential and limitations of specified products, fixtures and fittings. Plus, it is more cost effective to iron out any issues at the planning stage rather than having to backtrack when problems arise over weeks/months of work.