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When to use a structural engineer?

Do You Need a Structural Engineer?

Depending if you are building, renovating or landscaping, you may require the services a structural engineer to help with the design and construction of a variety of projects. These could include:

  • Retaining walls
  • Roofs in a (cyclone-prone areas)
  • Footings in clay or soft soil or on a sloping block
  • Reinforced concrete columns
  • Suspended concrete slabs
  • Steel floor beams and roof girders

Regulations vary in different states of Australia so you need to check with your local council. For example, in most states, any retaining wall over a metre in height must be designed and built by a structural engineer. In other states, the height limit is less and the location and purpose of the retaining wall may also be a factor.

In general, you need to hire a structural engineer whenever a project requires the expertise of someone who knows how to ensure the structural integrity of a structure that falls outside the parameters of general construction.

Choosing a Structural Engineerengineer

When your builder or council tells you a structural engineer is needed, your first thought might be, “How much is that going to cost?” Structural engineers  can specialise in residential constructions and the fees for their services can be very modest. They can cost* as little as $200 or $300. For detailed plans and specifications, the cost can be thousands of dollars, but should be in line with the scope of your project.

Just as you get quotes for other services, you can get competitive quotes from structural engineers in your area. Choosing a local engineer can save you money because they will not have to include as much travel time in their quote. A structural engineer who specialises in residential work will have extensive experience with similar jobs and is likely to be less expensive than an engineer with a different speciality.

Always make sure your structural engineer holds a current licence and is fully insured with both professional indemnity and public liability insurance. These will protect you in the event of a mistake or oversight on their part.

*Cost and prices in this article are indicative and should only be used as a guide. They also vary locally and are subject to market forces.

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