Why You Need a Structural Engineer When Buying or Building a New Home

Over the past several years, prospective home buyers have been taking an increasing role in the design and function of homes they are having built.

Photos By: Burge & Associates Architects

No longer satisfied with homes that look identical to others in a development, home buyers want a stylish home that meets their requirements, not the other way around. For too long, home buyers have had to adjust their lifestyles to homes which have already been built and now they are speaking out about wanting to help design the home they will be spending a great deal of their lives in. If this sounds like you, one thing you may not realise up front is that you will need the services of a structural engineer.

Don’t Architects and Structural Engineers Do the Same Thing?

This is a question so many people ask and so the simplest answer is yes, at times their jobs overlap. However, an architect will design the space, inside and exterior, whilst a structural engineer with take those plans and then go about seeing to the structural integrity of the building.

Once the plans are laid, the structural engineer, like Brisbane engineers such as Incode, will make sure that the design is compliant with building codes and that all structural materials are also up to those codes. This is the person who will specify exactly what is needed when installing HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical wiring and even ventilation. Those duties are beyond what an architect has been trained to do.

Why Is a Structural Engineer Important When Buying a New Home?

Here again, a structural engineer will conduct all the necessary testing to ensure the structural integrity of a building and that builders followed building codes. Not all builders are as ethical as they should be and cutting corners could lead to devasting losses of life and property for the homeowner. Consider, for a moment, the 1974 floods in Brisbane as the result of getting hit by Tropical Cyclone Wanda.

Rain fell for more than three weeks which resulted in the loss of many homes. Today, building codes are much stricter and so when buying a home, it is imperative to hire a structural engineer to assess whether that home is structurally sound and up to current building codes. If not, you have the right to insist on renovations prior to signing a contract or you can refuse to buy that home altogether.

Builders and Structural Engineers

Finally, bear in mind that most builders work with a structural engineer and that is something you might like to investigate. If you are not satisfied that the engineer has done enough to ensure the structural integrity of the home you are looking at, you can always hire your own structural engineer to give you an unbiased assessment.

Remember, it is always in your best interest to contract a structural engineer who will be that one person who lies between you and catastrophic losses. Without a professional, unbiased report, there is no way of knowing what will happen if flooding rains and high winds of another Wanda strikes the area.