Before the turn of the new millennium, structural engineering used to be considered a civil engineering discipline. Today though, it is a separate discipline in build construction, earthquake resistance construction and mechanical engineering. The main objective of a structural engineer is to look into any faults during the design phase of the construction to help reduce risks. Structural engineers help ensure buildings resist forces that can cause the structure to deform to the extent of compromising the structural integrity of a building.
For ordinary houses, consulting a structural engineer is not necessary. Architects and general contractors can handle the structural needs of such houses. However, larger structures like dams, multi-storey buildings and bridges would need you to get structural engineering services. Such projects, being large in nature, will be faced with unique stresses that only specialised structural engineers can tackle. Here's a guide to help you decide whether you'll need the services of a structural engineer.
When to Engage a Structural Engineer
If you're about to embark on a construction project, the following four questions will help you decide whether you will need structural engineering services.
• What type of construction project is it?
• How big is the project?
• How complicated is its structure?
• How will structural loads affect the structure's integrity?
The architect you choose can also help you decide whether structural engineering services will be needed. Before assembling your team, get in touch with a structural engineering consulting firm and seek guidance on how safe the project is.
Selecting an Engineering Services Firm to Hire
You can also hire a company for your structural engineering needs directly. In this case, narrow down the potential hires to two or three first. References from previous clients with a job similar to yours will be helpful here.
Of the three consulting firms you choose, it's advised to have them visit the project site and inspect the construction plans. Afterwards, request each to submit a written proposal. With your general contractor and architect go over the proposals submitted to get an idea of who fits most into the project's requirements.
What to Expect During the Structural Design Process
Structural design consulting is a process that follows two steps. First, a structural engineer delivers a functional design. This serves to show how the construction work will look. After this, a structural engineer will work on and deliver the structural design. This design will detail every nook, corner and edge of the proposed construction.