Three Reasons To Consult A Structural Engineer If you are planning to remodel or renovate you house or other building, you might want to consult a structural engineer to make sure your plans won't affect how the building performs.

Three Reasons to Consult a Structural Engineer

If you are planning to remodel or renovate your house or other building, you might want to consult a structural engineer to make sure your plans won't affect how the building performs.  Sometimes what seems like an innocent change can have a negative impact on how your stucture performs.  Paying for an hour or two of consulting time can sometimes same you a lot of money in the long run.

1. It is a structural engineer's job to know the load path.

Most of the time the load path for a building is pretty easy to determine, however some things are not obvious.  Most people can look at a system of floor joists, beams, columns and footings and know how the load gets from the floor system to the foundation, however roof systems are not always as intuitive as floor systems.

When a roof has a pitch to it, as the roofs on most buildings do, lateral forces are introduced when the structural member that is at an angle is loaded.  If you remember back to geometry and trigonometry classes, when a vector at an angle has a force then that force can be broken down into a vertical component of force and a horizontal component of force.

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The rafters or top chords of the trusses of a roof are pitched and have a horizontal element of force to them.  When you are making changes to the roof framing system of a building, a structural engineer can help in determining how the changes you want to make are to be excecuted.

2. A structural engineer considers vertical and lateral loads when assessing a structure.

You want to put a door or window in an existing wall; that sounds simple enough.  All you need to do is put a header over the new opening to carry the load from above and you're done, right?  In many cases, that new opening is probably in a shearwall and putting that new door or window in will make the shearwall shorter, compromsing the lateral force resisting system.  This is the equivalent of making an existing beam smaller - you reduce the load carrying capacity of an existing structural element when you do that.

When you want to put a new opening in a wall, a structural engineer can not only provide the correct size beam/header to span over the opening, but they can provide a lateral design for how to brace the structure against lateral loads with the new door or window opening.

3. A structural engineer will provide a structural design that will meet the current structural building code standards.

With today's complex building codes, it can be difficult to take into consideration all of the factors when design a new building or modifying an existing one.  A structural engineer is intimately familiar with the structural requirements of the building code and can provide you a complete structural design that takes all necessary factors into consideration.