Do I need a structural engineer for my home renovation?

If you are carrying out a loft conversion, extension or internal renovation, a structural engineer will be key to your project; indeed if you are doing any type of structural work to your home then a structural engineer should be involved.


We look at the role a structural engineer will play in your project, as well as the cost, and how to find a good one.


What part will a structural engineer play in my home renovation?

The structural engineer will carry out the calculations and drawings to be used for the building control approval. These calculations and drawings will also be used by the builder to quote an accurate price for the work and also for them to carry out the work. 

Most importantly, the structural engineer will make sure that your structural changes are safe.

When in the process do I need a structural engineer?

If your project doesn't require planning approval then the structural engineer can carry out the calculations and measured drawings at the outset, provided they have a clear brief. The structural engineer will visit your home to take measurements and then prepare calculations and drawings, which will be used for the building control application as well as passed onto the builder to quote and use during the build.

If your project needs planning approval and there is a chance that you will need to alter the plans, then you are best holding off on the structural engineer preparing the drawings and calculations until planning permission has been granted. Any changes to the plans will require amendments to your structural drawings and calculations, which may cost more. The structural engineer will work alongside your architect to prepare the measured drawings.

The structural implications will need to be considered at the outset when designing the layout, so your architect may work alongside the structural engineer when designing the project.

Do I need a structural engineer vs architect?

A structural engineer and architect carry out separate tasks. If you are doing structural work, you will always need a structural engineer, whereas the architects role is dependent on the complexity of the project. 

So if you are doing a minor job like knocking down a wall to create an open plan living space, you will likely only need a structural engineer. If you are carrying out a large extension then you will need a structural engineer and likely an architect to help with the design.


What is the cost of a structural engineer?

The cost of your structural engineer will vary depending on the scale of your project and what role they are carrying out, but expect to pay anything from £500.

When asking a structural engineer for a quote, be really clear on what work they are quoting for. 

If they are preparing the structural drawings and calculations for the submission to building control, you must confirm whether they are actually submitting the application on your behalf...don't assume that this will be done. 

You should also budget for the building control application and the site inspection fee, which vary depending on the work being carried out and your local authority (budget from £300 - £900).

If you alter your plans then it is likely that a structural engineer will add to the cost for further sets of drawings


How do I find a good structural engineer near me?

Many architects practices have an in-house structural engineer or have a structural engineer that they work with and instruct to carry out the drawings and calculations on your behalf. If they don't, you can ask if they know any that they would recommend that you work with.

If you are not working with an architect, then ask in your local area for recommendations.  You could save money by going directly to a structural engineer rather than paying an architect to use theirs.


Anything else I should look out for?

Structural engineers carry out a broad range of work across both residential and commercial projects, so make sure that yours is experienced in residential projects.

Check that your structural engineer is a member of The Institute of Structural Engineers or The Institute of Civil Engineers and also has professional indemnity insurance.


If you would like to find out more about building regulations, then read Your guide to building regulations

Published: June 24, 2019

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