Why you need a Structural Engineer for your Extension
Posted: Mar 17, 2021
It can be very tempting to try to eliminate costs wherever you think you can for an extension project, which of course you should do if it doesn’t jeopardise the safety, quality and integrity of your project. One cost that you should never consider bypassing is the contracting of a quality, reputable structural engineer. A structural engineer, when it comes to an extension, really is worth their weight in gold. In addition the actual cost of a structural engineer being involved in your extension will not be as high as you might imagine. According to checkatrade.com the average cost of a structural engineer is £400 for a basic residential project, which usually fits the bill for an extension.
A structural engineer is responsible for ensuring that any work you carry out on your home will not cause structural issues and your building’s integrity is not compromised. They will be responsible for designing the load-bearing elements of the extension, from columns and foundations to walls and floors, ensuring that the building will be capable of taking all of the necessary loads including humans and furniture as well as environmental pressures.
A structural engineer is, of course different from an architect, but no less vital. In fact an architect – should you already have one contracted – may be able to recommend a good structural engineer for your project. If, however, you are only knocking down an adjoining wall to facilitate an open plan room you will need only a structural engineer. For bigger extensions an architect and structural engineer will both be required. Often it will be the architect who contacts the structural engineer to help with a project they’ve been contracted on for an extension. Direct communication lines between the two professionals definitely helps and it can work best on this basis.
Assuming you have both a structural engineer and an architect, they will each work on drawings, with the structural engineer’s work being prepared on the load-bearing, structural elements and the architect focusing on the design features. The structural engineer’s drawings will be submitted to building control for approval prior to commencement of any work.
In simple terms you will definitely benefit from a structural engineer if your layout is being changed in a way that could alter the load-bearing arrangement of your home. If you are in any way unsure that this is the case it is vital you get an expert opinion. It is usually obvious if you are removing a back wall to build an extension, but it can also be the case if you are knocking walls down indoors to create flow, or if you are adding a new door or window.
A structural engineer will visit your home to analyse the site before beginning work on their calculations and drawings as existing foundations and structure are important. The structural analysis will be shared with the architect, who if reputable will try to avoid demolishing anything unnecessarily, keeping as many existing features as possible.
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