Are you building a new house and wondering whether you need a structural engineer? Perhaps you’re even wondering what structural engineer is and what role they play in the building process. These are both good questions and in this article, we hope to provide some answers by taking a deep dive into Structural Engineers in Brisbane. We’ll look into why you might need a structural engineer, the questions you should ask and the red flags you need to keep an eye out for.
What does a structural engineer do?
Structural engineers research, plan, design and supervise the construction, renovation, maintenance or demolition of the framework of buildings, ensuring they’re both safe and durable. They can also perform compliance inspections, and help find ways to improve the structural integrity of existing buildings. To achieve this, an engineer will perform calculations on how to improve the stability of a building, determine the thickness of walls and ceilings required for the proposed structure, and other engineering requirements of the building design.
Different structural engineers will have their own specialities. They can work exclusively on either commercial, residential or industrial projects or dabble in a few, so be sure to hire someone to suit your needs.
Who needs a structural engineer?
Structural engineers are usually needed for more complicated builds or something that falls outside the usual parameters. Building on a slope or a foundation made of clay soil or soft soil is common reasons a structural engineer will be called in to help find solutions. Basically, if something could compromise the structural integrity of your proposed building, a structural engineer can help. It’s like how your GP can take care of a lot of health issues themselves but might send you to a specialist for a particular problem. Some of the reasons you may need a structural engineer include:
- Reinforced concrete columns
- Roofs for cyclone areas
- Footings for clay soils
- Footings on soft and/or sloping sites.
- Steel floor beams and roof girders.
- Suspended slabs.
Your building certifier, architects, builder or building consultant will be able to advise you on whether you need to hire a structural engineer.
How much does a structural engineer cost in Brisbane?
The cost of structural engineers will vary depending on what exact service you need them for. If all you require is a consultation, then it could set you back as little as $200. If you require a detailed plan and specifications, the price will bump into thousands. Whatever the costs it tends to align with your project. More expensive, complicated new houses are likely going to command a higher price than more basic, traditional home builds will.
Below are a few examples of real quotes for real customers. For privacy’s sake, we’ve removed all identifying information of both the clients and the company. The purpose of this is to show that:
a) prices and requirements can vary quite a bit depending on the project
b) to give you a visual idea of what to expect
c) allow you to see firsthand some of what services structural engineers will offer.
At what stage of your building project will you need an engineer and how long do they normally take
If you require engineering services for your project, they’ll need to see your plans, drawings and site before construction begins. Your engineer will need soil testing and a slope analysis report to assess the practical aspects and quality of the land.
If structural issues are found during any inspections, an engineer may need to be involved to help solve the problem. Any property on a sloping block or uneven terrain may also require a structural engineer.
Do you need a structural engineer and a home builder?
Are you after a structural engineer? Perhaps you’re unsure and want a second opinion. Building a house is one of the biggest projects you’ll ever undertake, and the number of decisions you’ll have to make can be overwhelming, especially when you haven’t done this before.
Buildi is here to help you through your building journey. We can help perform due diligence on your land, find the perfect builder for your dream home, and ensure your contractual agreement is being met.
Our tips to help find a structural engineer in Brisbane
Questions to ask a structural engineering company
What type of structural engineering do they specialise in?
If you’ve been told you need a structural engineer, it’ll be for something specific. Ask how much experience they have in dealing with issues similar to yours. This is your opportunity to find out if they’re a good match.
Do they have up-to-date knowledge of local council requirements and construction practices?
There’s no point in hiring a structural engineer who doesn’t have up-to-date knowledge and won’t deliver a product that won’t get approval. Ask your contractor about local council requirements and construction practices and it’ll give you an idea of how in-depth their knowledge goes.
What are the fees and how does the payment plan work?
Building a home has a lot of expenses, and with a tight budget, you need to know how much you need to pay and when. Ask your prospective structural engineer to provide a quote and discuss payment plans with them.
Who at the firm will be your point of contact?
This is the person who all your
- Who you’ll be talking to throughout the project.
- Whether they have a direct phone line and/or email address.
- What they’re preferred
You should be able to meet the person who’ll be your point of contact before you agree to work with the company.
Red flags to look out for before hiring a structural engineering company
Lack of qualifications
The whole reason you’re hiring a structural engineer in the first place is that you need their expertise. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask about qualifications and if the contractor is reluctant to offer any, it might be a sign they’re taking on a job they shouldn’t be.
They have bad or no reviews
When researching your prospective contractor, you’ll need to use your judgement when reading reviews. Some people want the impossible and will write a scathing review when they don’t get it. What you’re looking for are detailed reviews and reoccurring patterns in multiple reviews. For example, lots of people say the contractor never answered calls, was late, etc.
They want a large upfront payment or insist you pay in cash
Accepting cash payments isn’t a bad thing in itself. What we’re talking about is when a contractor only accepts cash payment. It could mean they’re trying to avoid paying taxes. Even more concerning to you is if they don’t provide a receipt. Keeping a paper trail of your interactions and payments during the building process could save you a lot of headaches in the future.
Your structural engineer doesn’t need a Communications degree, but they do need to be able to explain what they’re doing and why. Their service isn’t cheap, so you need to be confident you understand what it is you’re paying for. If any contractor seems to be deliberately vague or evasive in this regard, it might be a sign they’re overcharging you.
Need a structural engineer for your next project? Buildi is here to help you during the building process with each detail from the due diligence. So if you want help determining if you need a structural engineer and then finding one, get in touch with us today!