A structural engineer is an essential part of your building journey, as they ensure that your home won’t be falling apart any time soon! They are responsible for things like footings, slabs, wall frames, floor frames, roof frames and the connections that hold the whole building together. They work together with your builder and building designer/architect to create a home that’s sturdy and long-wearing.

We sat down with Matt Cornell of Cornell Engineers to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about structural engineers in the building process.

  1. How does a structural engineer fit into the building process?

A structural engineer usually comes into the process at design stage – they provide engineering drawings that your builder will use to build the structure. They remain in the process until the very end, when they confirm that the builder has done a good job and are happy to sign off the structural integrity of the home.

  1. What is the difference between a structural engineer and an architect?

Structural engineers work closely with architects all the time but their jobs are entirely different. Architects ensure your home is going to feel like a home. They consider things like where the sun rises and sets and how that affects your home, what your house will look like inside and out and how to position rooms so that you’ll love living there. Structural engineers are entirely concerned with making your house buildable and safe. They think about things like how strong to make the walls, how to make sure the floor isn’t too bouncy and how to achieve the architect’s fancy ideas that make your home unique.

  1. What’s the best way to choose a structural engineer?

The best way to choose a structural engineer for your project is to do your research. Ask your builder for some suggestions. In Queensland, your structural engineer must be registered with the Board of Professional Engineers, Queensland. Ask your engineer if they are registered (other known as RPEQ). Don’t be afraid to cyber-stalk your engineer and check out the online reviews to see if they have a track record of exceeding their customer’s (and your) expectations.

Finally, the RPEQ that is signing off on your building should be contactable. Ring the engineer and ask some questions about your project. You’ll soon know if your structural engineer is perfect for your job. Your engineer should understand current building techniques and should be easy to talk to and easy to understand. Don’t forget that your structural engineer’s main job is to translate complicated code requirements into easy-to-understand concepts. If you struggle to understand your structural engineer then maybe your builder will find the engineer difficult to work with too. That’s bad news for both of you.

  1. What makes a great structural engineer?

A good structural engineer will work well with you and your builder, be contactable, be approachable and have great ideas on how to achieve a safe, buildable home renovation and addition. A great structural engineer will make this whole process easy for you and your builder!

Still have questions? Get in touch today to see how we can help.

At McGowan Homes we take pride in staying ahead of the market with the latest trends, techniques and materials. To help you with your building journey we’ve put together the 10 essential must-knows before building. Download today or sign up to our newsletter.

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