Structural engineering is one of the most challenging aspects of projects that involve buildings. There is nothing in the process as important as making sure the building will hold up against a host of potentially adverse scenarios. If you're curious about whether you ought to hire a structural engineer, here are four things you can expect them to handle.
Assessing Architectural Designs
During construction efforts, there are always questions about how tough a building is going to be. While architects are excellent at this sort of work, it's structural engineering professionals who can answer the tough questions like, "What happens if there's an explosion in the subbasement?"
A structural engineer can assess how the shape of the building might interact with local wind patterns. They can even examine how the presence of nearby buildings might influence what happens to yours.
Similarly, they'll look closely at how certain materials will hold up. For example, should the supports be made with just concrete, or will they have to be reinforced with rebar?
Existing buildings also frequently have issues. While lots of laws allow structures to be grandfathered in on older regulatory frameworks, things usually change once you start making modifications.
If you're trying to preserve a 100-year-old church in an earthquake zone, for example, you need to view the problem from many angles. What is the ground like? How much of the current structure is crumbling? Will the structure have to be reinforced just so work can start?
Insurance and Finance Issues
When a party has a financial stake in the fate of a building, they're going to want to see some evidence that their money will be protected. For an insurance carrier, that means looking at the structural engineering reports to assess what their risk exposure really is. Investors and banks will take a similar tack.
A structural engineer is a licensed professional. Likewise, they usually carry some form of professional liability insurance. The trade's work is largely governed by strict liability, meaning they're on the hook if anything bad happens that can be traced to their work. Given an engineer's high level of insurance and education, their willingness to sign off on a project is a very positive signal.
Local, state, and federal authorities typically demand loads of documents for building and renovation jobs. A structural engineering company can help you provide the documents needed to fulfill those obligations to regulators. If an official has any questions, an engineer can also help you address them in detail.
To learn more, contact a structural engineering firm.