Do I Need a Structural Engineer for Foundations?

August 4, 2023

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Homeowners often wonder, do I need a structural engineer for foundations? This is a very important question when facing foundation damage and needed repairs! In some cases, a foundation repair contractor can inspect the structure and provide expert fixes. In other cases, your property might need an engineer’s inspection to ensure proper repairs.

Homeowners might need a structural engineer for recurring foundation issues, severe settling and resultant sloping, or after natural disasters. Also, you might consult with a structural engineer before buying a home.

These are just a few quick suggestions for when you might call a structural engineer for a property’s foundation. To learn more about this issue, keep reading! Also, don’t hesitate to call a foundation repair contractor near you when needed. They will usually tell you when the property needs an engineer’s expertise before scheduling repairs.

do I need a structural engineer for foundations

When Do I Need a Structural Engineer for Foundations?

Since not all foundation issues require an engineer’s inspection, you might note when it’s vital to call such a professional. This information can ensure you don’t overlook their expertise when it’s needed!

You may need a structural engineer to check foundations for the following situations:

Visible Cracks or Damage

If you notice significant cracks (especially horizontal cracks), bowing walls, or other signs of damage, it's essential to call a structural engineer. The deeper and larger the cracks, the more you need them to determine their cause. They can also recommend appropriate repairs depending on the cracks size, direction, and depth.

Also, ensure you call an engineer if you notice several cracks around your home in various places. This can indicate sinking and settling and severe foundation damage. An engineer can assess those cracks and other damage indications and note the best repair method.

Water Infiltration

If you notice persistent water infiltration in the basement or around the foundation, call a structural engineer. They can identify the source of the problem and suggest waterproofing solutions. Also, they might spot deep cracks in foundation walls and other areas that need more than simple patching! Engineers can often spot cracks around basement windows, in a crawl space, and other areas that risk water damage.

Foundation Settlement

Call an engineer if you observe signs of foundation settlement, such as sloping floors and sticking doors or windows. Also, don’t overlook separated moldings, popped drywall nails, and sagging ceiling sections. A structural engineer can evaluate the settlement extent and pinpoint the areas of damage. Additionally, they can tell you how much lifting is needed to ensure your property complies with local codes.

Buying or Selling a Property

If you’re thinking of buying a property with foundation damage, you might first call a structural engineer. They can inspect the property and ensure its stability. They can also tell you the damage extent and repairs you might need after purchasing.

Before selling a property with foundation damage, consider consulting with a structural engineer. In most cases, sellers are obligated to disclose foundation damage. A home inspection will also spot that damage! Having an engineer’s report can ensure you don’t lose offers from buyers not expecting foundation damage.

hole in exterior of foundation

Home Renovations

When planning significant home renovations or additions, have a structural engineer assess the existing foundation. They can note if the foundation can support the changes or if modifications are needed. This is especially vital if your renovations might add significant weight to the property. For instance, if you’ll be adding stone floors or countertops or a sunroom.

Natural Disasters or Accidents

After earthquakes, floods, or other natural disasters, it's essential to have a structural engineer inspect your home’s foundation. They can spot damage before it spreads and becomes worse! In turn, you can schedule needed fixes and avoid secondary damage such as wall cracks and sloping floors.

Aging Properties

For older properties, especially those without prior foundation inspections, a structural engineer is vital. They can evaluate the foundation's condition to address any potential deterioration or weaknesses.

Also, structural engineers are familiar with how additions or renovations over the years may have affected that foundation. In turn, they can assess the entire property and note if the foundation needs fixing so it can support that added weight.

Recurring Structural Issues

If you've already addressed foundation problems in the past but continue to experience recurring structural issues, call a structural engineer. They can conduct a comprehensive evaluation to find the root cause and provide a long-term solution. This can include improper repairs or short-term solutions for severe foundation issues!

Insurance or Legal Requirements

In some cases, insurance companies or local authorities may require a structural engineer's assessment. This is often done so the engineer can determine the extent of foundation damage for insurance claims or legal purposes.

Additionally, you might call an engineer if you’re having issues with the insurance company. For instance, they might attempt to underpay you for needed repairs after a natural disaster. An engineer’s report is often useful for fighting such decisions!

sealing a concrete foundation

Do I Need a Structural Engineer for Foundations Every Time?

Homeowners or buyers don’t necessarily need a structural engineer for foundation inspections in every situation. For example:

  • If you are constructing a new home and using a licensed builder who follows approved building codes, an engineer's involvement may not be necessary. The builder can work with standard foundation designs suitable for the local soil and environmental conditions.
  • If your home is only suffering minor cracks, a structural engineer's involvement may not be required. A qualified foundation repair contractor can often handle needed inspections and repairs. Also, it’s good to schedule an inspection at the first sign of damage. This can keep them from getting worse!
  • For small, non-critical structures like small sheds, playhouses, or other minor constructions, you might not need to call a structural engineer. In many cases, a foundation repair contractor can spot and address damage.
  • When buying or selling a residential property, a home inspector can usually identify common foundation issues or signs of concern. If major issues are suspected, they may recommend further evaluation by a structural engineer.
  • Not all renovation projects mean that it’s time to call a structural engineer! Simple updates such as installing new cabinets don’t typically mean added weight on a structure. In turn, you probably won’t need to call an engineer for an inspection.

Additionally, remember to consider local building codes, regulations, and the complexity of any project. A structural engineer’s expertise can give valuable insights when it comes to a foundation and its condition.

In turn, they can ensure the safety and stability of the structure and offer tailored solutions for unique or complex situations. Also, if you’re uncertain about the professional to call, it's a good idea to consult a structural engineer.

A Word From Our Foundation Repair Crew

Bloomington Foundation Repair Experts is happy to explain, do I need a structural engineer for foundations? Hopefully we’ve given you some good information to consider! Also, if you’re in the area, call our Bloomington foundation repair experts for needed repairs. We’ll start you off with a FREE foundation inspection and price quote. Additionally, we’re happy to answer all your questions about foundation repairs and waterproofing. For more information, call us today.


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