Last Updated Feb 1, 2018 · Written by Craig Gibson
If the structural integrity of your home renovation project is an issue, it is likely you will need to hire a qualified structural engineer to make sure the project is safe and conforms to the letter of the law.
When council or your architect tell you that you need to hire a structural engineer, your first thought is, "How much is that going to cost?"
Here's what you need to know about hiring a structural engineer for your home improvement or building project. This article will help you figure out:
Structural engineers are crucial to the design integrity of new homes and renovations © Warwick O'Brien Architects
There are many occasions when a structural engineer is needed in order to get council approval for a residential project, or to ensure a building project complies with the relevant code. Their job is to provide the technical knowledge to ensure a weight bearing structure is capable of handling the load placed on it. Some typical projects structural engineers can report on or design include:
Engineers can determine if a building defect is a serious structural issue © Reliable Home Inspections
#hiptip: Structural engineers all need to be appropriately qualified and registered to operate
All states require structural engineers to be registered to carry out their work.
Appropriately qualified engineers should be registered on the National Professional Engineers Register (NPER). Ask them for their valid membership card or by conducting an online search on the National Engineering Register (NER).
Retaining walls over a certain height need to be designed by a structural engineer © Garden Effects
Read more: Do I Need an Engineer for my Retaining Wall?
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When it comes time to hiring a structural engineer make sure they are right for your job. Some questions to ask them include:
#hiptip: Always get at least 3 quotes before you hire any contractor or business
If you add another storey you will need an engineer to sign off on your plans. © BUILDWYSE CONSTRUCTIONS
A structural engineer's hourly rate starts at around $100 per hour but can go up to $250 an hour for fully qualified professional service on a complex project. Expect to be charged based on the complexity of your project and how much time they will spend on it.
Most residential consultations are for routine jobs. A short consultancy fee to draw up plans for some beams might cost as little as $300 if no further research is needed. If council requires a structural engineer's drawings and report, it can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 or even more.
There is no flat rate for building inspections, as the fee will depend on the size of your property. For a building inspection report, expect to pay from:
For detailed plans, covering large renovation projects, drawn up by an engineer, expect to pay anywhere from:
For a soil test and contour survey, expect to pay:
Structural engineers will often work with your builder to ensure your structure is to specification
How can you get the level of service you need without paying too much? In some cases, such as a retaining wall, you will probably get the best price from your supplier, who will have a structural engineer on call. If you need to hire a structural engineer directly, get competitive quotes. Give them as much information as you can to give them the opportunity to provide you with accurate quotes.
The best way of finding out the cost of your project is to get quotes from local structural engineers. This will give you a sense of what market rates currently are.
* All the costs and prices quoted were sourced at the time this article was written. They are indicative, may vary locally, are subject to market forces and should only be used as a guide.