Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between a structural engineer and a home inspector?

A structural engineer is a licensed engineer who specializes in inspecting the major structural aspects of a home or building. A residential structural engineer inspects for serious structural defects that are not easy to spot, or for which it’s not easy to identify the solution.
A home inspector will spend most of his time inspecting items that are easy for the buyer to inspect. Home inspectors will be most concerned with whether windows and doors open and close correctly, if sinks drain and outlets work, and if appliances and mechanicals function well for where they are in their normal lifespan.

2. How does a structural engineer differ from a contractor or architect?

Architects concentrate on the aesthetics and functionality of a building.
Structural engineers make sure structures support and resist the loads to which they are subjected without excessive movement. Structural engineers also ensure that the design is suitable for the manufacturing tolerances of the building materials used. Structural engineers only inspect, evaluate and design plans or repairs for structures.
A construction contractor builds or makes home structural repairs.

3. What kinds of inspections do you offer?

  • Decks / screen porches / roof additions
  • Cracks in walls and ceilings
  • Cracks In bricks and foundations
  • Floors – sloping, humps, separations, dips and bounce
  • Termite / Water / Rot / Fire damage assessment
  • Removing walls and beam sizing
  • Failing retaining walls
  • Cracks in concrete slabs
  • Cracks in basement walls
  • Holes cut in joists
  • Damaged roof trusses

4. What is the average time for an inspection?

1 ½ to 2 ½ hours depending on the scope of work.

5. Has the structural engineer completed a project of this type before?

Most structural engineers can design most structures. Different types of projects require a certain knowledge base and this knowledge only comes from experience. Intelligent Design Engineering has qualified team members at every level resulting in a project that is designed correctly, built correctly, and leaves everyone feeling like the project was a success.

6. Do engineers do the structural repair work?

Engineers do not do the structural repair work, but they can refer you to someone who can.

7. Why should I hire a structural engineer?

Many types of improvements and repairs make hiring a structural engineer a necessity, including:

  • When significantly altering a home’s layout
  • When structural damage is apparent
  • When a project needs a structural engineer to inspect and approve construction
  • When purchasing or selling a home

8. Are structural engineers licensed?

Yes, structural engineers hold licenses to be permitted to offer their services to the public. Once licensed, professional engineers are often assigned an identification number that must be stamped or embossed on any plans they approve. Many state license boards also require that a professional engineer take a minimum number of hours of continuing education each year.

9. The building inspector issued a “stop work order” for my project. Can a structural engineer approve the work that was done?

A structural engineer will need to make a site visit to your location to assess the situation. The engineer will also need to know why the building inspector did not approve the work as it was completed. The structural engineer will provide an independent opinion and in many cases will either recommend changes to your project to follow code requirements or write an engineer’s letter stating that the work is acceptable as witnessed.

10. Should I have a structural engineer tell me if I can remove a wall in my house?

You should always consult a structural engineer before removing any walls inside your house. Walls can either be load bearing or non-load bearing walls. Your engineer will be able to recommend how to remove your walls as well as what size beam you will need to place in your new opening.

11. What sections of my Home Inspector’s report is the structural engineer concerned with?

There is a section of your Home Inspector’s report which is usually titled “Structural Components.” That is the section of the report that your structural engineer is most interested in. Structural engineers inspect from the house’s foundation to the roofing system. Foundations include basements, crawlspaces and concrete slabs. Structural engineers inspect attics and roof rafters. However, they do not inspect exterior roofing components.

12. What kinds of services do you NOT offer?

  • General home inspections (mechanical and electrical)
  • Soil inspections
  • FHA and HUD inspections
  • Shipping Container Homes
  • Mobile and Manufactured homes
  • Draw house plans, site plans or additions
  • Sign off on already placed footings

Very pleased with the level of expertise and thoroughness in completing my requested project. Hiring a structural engineer could be daunting as i wasn’t certain on what it would involve. IDE made the process easy, customer friendly and even interesting as I truly saw a passion in what they were doing! I recommend Intelligent Design for any structural engineering concern. I have placed them as a "favorite pro" on my HomeAdvisor app!

Betsy Windham Home Owner