When should I follow up with a Structural Engineer?
When there are items in a home inspection report that call for a structural engineer, the buyer should consult a structural engineer during their due diligence period in order to get a better understanding of the seriousness and possible repair costs involved.
Cost and availability
A structural engineer’s visit and report can cost between $400-600, and sometimes they are not available for 2 or more weeks so you’ll want to schedule a site visit as early as possible.
Sometimes it is good practice for a homebuyer to hire a structural engineer even when the homebuyer is not overly-concerned with the structural issues or has a good understanding of the causes and repairs. In some cases a structural engineer may recommend only monitoring or minimal repairs– in this case their documentation can help put a buyer’s mind at ease and assist the transaction if they go to sell the house in the future. The documentation that the structural engineer provides is the final authority on all things concerning the structure and trumps the opinion of any home inspector, general contractor, or even bank or city official.
Most independent structural engineer’s do not offer to do the repairs– the advantage here is that there is no potential conflict of interest as they would not profit regardless of their findings or recommended repairs. One inconvenience is that the buyer has to hire another contractor for an estimate of the work (when repairs are recommended). Some foundation repair companies have in-house structural engineers, this can be more convenient for the buyer as a repair estimate is often included in the presentation– sometimes these companies can be more sales driven.
Structural Engineers can provide important information, documentation, and confidence for home buyers when structural defects are found during a home inspection.