How much does a structural engineer cost?

by | Aug 28, 2023 | Building costs, Hiring tradespeople

Have you been told you need to hire a structural engineer and you’re now wondering how much it will cost you? The answer to this isn’t as simple as it seems as structural engineers offer a wide range of services and there are a variety of factors that can influence your final price. So, let’s cut to the chase and break down how much a structural engineer costs for a variety of services.

What role does a structural engineer have in your new home build?

A structural engineer researches, designs, plans and advises for the structural integrity needs of construction, renovation and home improvement projects.

  • Ensure a building is both safe and durable
  • Help design load-bearing walls
  • Assist with any engineering services
  • Inspection for new and existing homes.
  • Perform soil and contour tests
  • Work on both commercial and residential buildings.

Not every home buyer will need to hire a structural engineer so it’s important to discuss with your builder, broker, architect or building designer whether an engineer is an essential hire. They’re usually only required for more complex builds, large projects, commercial endeavours or buildings that fall outside the usual parameters.

How much does a structural engineer cost in Australia?

Different firms will have both their own prices and their own fee structures. For example, one engineering firm may charge by the hour while another will charge flat fees. In some cases, the fee structure will vary depending on the type of job and project size. With all that in mind, here are some averages in regard to how much structural engineering costs:

Per project: $300 – $15,000

Per hour: $100 – $250

Percentage of construction: 5% – 12%

The above is a very general idea of prices and with every project being different, don’t surprised if prices fall outside the above estimates.

How much does a structural drawing cost?

It can depend on the project, but you can expect to pay between $3,000- $5,000 for a structural drawing. Speak to your structural engineer about whether they will charge a flat fee or by the hour.

How much does a building inspection report cost?

Building inspection prices will vary depending on the size of your home, so let’s divide our estimates accordingly.

Small Homes

Barring something unforeseen, this would usually rank as one of the simpler jobs a structural engineer would perform. Expect to pay several hundred dollars for this service.

Medium Sized Homes

To inspect properties that are medium-sized, structural engineers charge around $500-800, assuming there aren’t any complications.

Large Homes

Large homes will cost up to $1,000 for a structural inspection, even more for an especially big house. Again, the complexity of the project will also add to your costs.

How much does a soil test cost?

Soil tests are an essential part of any construction project. Most structural engineers will charge a flat fee for a soil test of around $350. These can also be performed by geotechnical and soil technicians.

A soil test is vital in determining the health of your land and can reveal whether a block of land provides a quality foundation or is a bit of a lemon. There are places you can cut costs, but a soil test is worth every cent.

How much does a contour survey cost?

A contour survey is important for gauging the contours and slopes of your land. This plays an essential role in any new construction, especially when it comes to foundation and overall design.

Prices for contour surveys will vary depending on the property size but expect to pay around $1,000 for an average-sized property. If you’re buying a large piece of rural land, expect a higher price.

What impacts the cost of hiring a structural engineer?

Like any contractor you hire, there are certain factors that have an influence on how much your structural engineer will cost. Below are the key things to keep in mind that may determine the price of your

The complexity of the project

The more complex your building project, the more work your structural engineer will be required to perform. Naturally this extra time, use of resources, staff and workload will mean a heftier bill. For example, basic inspections will cost significantly less than the removal of a load-bearing wall and other internal walls. In short, complex projects will cost more due to the difficulty and time required.

Size of the project

This is consistent throughout the building industry: the bigger your project, the more it will cost. A bigger area requires more time and usually has more factors to consider. Larger houses also tend to have more complex designs, whether it’s the structural requirements that come with multi-storey houses or inspecting the home’s foundation.

Nature of the job

A structural engineer can perform a range of tasks that range in difficulty and, therefore, price. A soil test will be a more straightforward job than helping design an interior wall, and therefore cost less.

The Structural engineer’s level of experience

Experienced structural engineers charge more than their less experienced counterparts. A structural engineering firm may not send their most senior structural engineer to handle simpler projects, instead saving them for more detailed structural plans. While this may sound like a letdown, the person you’ll receive is still a licensed structural engineer who is more than qualified to handle your building project. You will just have the benefit of saving a few bucks, which is always a big plus in building.

What are the different structural engineer fee structures?

Most structural engineers will offer one of the following fee structures for a job:

  • Flat fee: Usual for smaller jobs like soil tests.
  • Per Hour: For bigger jobs or jobs that could take time.
  • Percentage of the entire price of the project: Usually reserved for the biggest jobs where the structural engineer is required throughout the project.

Our tips for hiring a structural engineer and minimising costs

  • First, find out if you need a structural engineer and why. Structural engineers offer a range of services so it’s important to know the exact job you require from them.
  • Ask how they charge, whether it is a flat fee, per hour or percentage. Also ask what the price covers, and if they charge per hour, how long the job will likely take.
  • Talk to at least three different engineers and get quotes to compare.
  • Talk to a building broker like Buildi, who knows the best structural engineers for your project.

Need help choosing a structural engineer? Get free advice from an experienced builder broker


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