Do You Need a Structural Engineer for a Home Inspection?

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By Thomas O'Shaughnessy Updated October 22, 2021


Since there is so much at stake when buying a home, it’s crucial that buyers hire an expert inspector. In some cases, a general inspection may only scratch the surface. When the integrity of a property’s foundation is in question, hiring a structural engineer is a must.

structural engineer home inspection

Once you have chosen the perfect home that checks off every box on your house hunting checklist, you should always hire a professional for inspection before entering the negotiation process. Most initial offers should remain contingent depending on the issues an inspector reveals.

Don’t let the dream home you have so much time and money invested in, become a nightmare after you move in. An advantage of buying with a local real estate agent is they can refer you to a quality inspector and encourage seeking additional input from a structural engineer.

If you’re unsure of the difference between the two specialists, you should know how they each provide techniques to prevent you from making a bad investment.

As a home buyer, you have the most at risk when closing on a property. Don’t rush into a decision by skipping important steps in the process like a professional inspection.

Are General Inspections Worth It?

You wouldn’t buy a used vehicle without test driving it first, right? So, why move forward with an offer on a home without ensuring it is in good condition. Even minor issues can turn into expensive disasters if they remain unresolved.

When a seller fails to disclose existing issues in the home, it will typically go unsolved until damages become a serious problem. As a home buyer, you have the most at stake as you will adopt the responsibilities for repairs that were ignored by a previous owner.

According to data from Home Advisor, the average home inspection in 2019 is approximately $315. Of course, this fee may fluctuate due to square footage and the extent of an examination. It’s a small price to pay when you consider the money you will save by passing on a property with prominent rehabilitation needs.

Here are a few areas of a home your general inspector may discover problems:

  • The integrity of plumbing and the electrical wiring;
  • HVAC units and fireplace-safety issues;
  • The condition of roof and foundation; and
  • A general state of both the interior and exterior.

Some licensed inspectors may offer additional services to investigate termite infestations and mold outbreaks.

Should You Call a Structural Engineer?

A general inspection is a useful resource for home buyers who want a perspective into potential repairs they face. When the integrity of a property’s bones is in question – a more in-depth inspection from a structural engineer is a necessity.

Sometimes, a general inspection will lead to a recommendation to call in a specialist. A structural engineer will investigate the property for vital flaws in safety and degrading condition.

You should consider hiring their services if a home falls into one of these categories.

Aging Properties

Aging properties often feature structural damage that requires resolution. Typically, homes that are 30 and older should be reviewed by a specialist. Their advice will include an estimate for repairs and a strategy of resolution.

Noticeable Damage to Foundation

One of the most vital components of any home is the foundation. Noticing prevalent damage may mean the structure’s loads are unevenly distributed or a drainage issue is to blame for cracks or shifts in a structure’s base.

Experiences Heavy Rain Conditions

The exterior of a home can be seriously compromised when exposed to heavy and constant rainfall. As water seeps through a faulty roof, a building’s ceiling, walls, columns, and foundation can all be negatively affected.

Small Issues May Mean Big Problems

Structural issues aren’t always as easily noticeable as leaning walls and sagging ceilings. Pay attention to how the doors and windows operate during a walkthrough of a property. If they are unable to be closed properly or stick upon opening, what seems like a small nuisance may signify major trouble.

The cost of a structural engineer can vary greatly, due to property sizes and the extent of investigation and remediation strategies. But for a home showing signs of structural weaknesses, you can’t afford to purchase a home without their feedback.

How Inspections Benefit Home Buyers

Jumping into a home purchase blindly is a dangerous gamble for buyers. Not only will an inspection show you exactly which repairs are required but discovering issues is also a beneficial tool used in negotiations.

A quality real estate agent understands how to use the results as a bargaining resource. For instance, an offer can reflect the cost of repairs or they can insist that a seller corrects the problems before a deal will be offered.

Don’t find yourself facing a situation of buyer’s regret by committing to a home that requires expensive repairs, immediately. A thorough review of a property’s condition offers home buyers protection against making an uneducated purchase.

Did you know working with a Clever Partner Agent can mean a $1,000 rebate to help home buyers cover closing costs?

When you’re ready to begin your house hunt, the knowledge from someone in our Partner Agent Network is here to assist you throughout the entire process. Fill out this form to connect with a professional to find a quality home.

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