What to Expect in a Structural Engineering Report

What to Expect in a Structural Engineering Report

The difference between a structural engineering report and an unlicensed contractor’s evaluation is expertise. Through years of study and licensure, a professional engineer can help identify, evaluate and provide recommendations to homeowners in need of structure or foundation repair. So what should a homeowner expect from a structural engineer’s report?

What part of my home gets inspected?

When homeowners first have their home inspected, they may not expect the depth (or lack of depth) that a professional engineer would provide. A structural engineer is capable of checking the full structure of the home, as well as other parts of the property. If the home is simply in need of a foundation inspection, then a structural engineer may simply evaluate that part of the home (the substructure). A roof inspection (which is sometimes called part of the superstructure) is likely not involved in that inspection—unless the structural engineer believes it may be part of your home’s structural integrity problem. Make sure you clarify any additional areas of your home that may be contributing to your home foundation problems.

What structural problems will be uncovered in the process?

Unfortunately, not all engineering reports leave homeowners feeling great about the state of their home. However, it’s a necessary first step in protecting your largest investment.  Some problems that may be uncovered in the foundation inspection include:

  • Your home’s foundation is poorly designed or constructed
  • If wood is present, it may be rotting (a sign of future problems)
  • Soil erosion has occurred, causing your home to settle incorrectly

A structural engineer’s report will give you the most insight into these issues. As a licensed engineer, they will identify the cause of the damage as well as confirm whether the perceived damage is in need of repair or just a harmless crack.

What problems won’t be covered in the process?

Unless you specify the details of the inspection during your request for a foundation inspection, do not expect the engineer to inspect the rest of your home, especially if there do not appear to be issues. Additionally, a structural engineer’s inspection will not include information on unattached structures. Pergolas, sheds and decks are not all included when checking for structural deficiencies in your home. If you think those detached structures need a separate inspection, inform the engineer in advance and he or she will be able to assess those structures as well.

What possible outcomes are there from a Structural Engineering Report?

The most important result that you will get from an engineering report is a clean bill of health. In some cases, a crack that was found may simply be due to thermal damage and could still lead to a positive evaluation. With several kinds of potential structural problems, receiving good news in an engineering report is the perfect result. Most importantly for homeowners, structural engineering reports will identify the root cause of damage that is found, allowing the homeowner to pursue repairs. Also included in in-depth reports are the engineer’s recommendations for how to repair the foundation or how to fix drainage problems, if necessary. More than anything, homeowners can expect expertise in a structural engineering report that they will not find anywhere else.