What is a Structural Engineer, and what do they do?
A Structural Engineer provides the necessary calculations when required for building works. This ensures buildings and structures are safely built and adhere to Part A of the Building Regulations.
Structural Engineers ensure that a structure is capable of 'standing up' and can withstand the building is subjected to.
Do I need building regulations approval?
Generally speaking, building regulations will be required if you put up a new building or alter an existing structure. Building regulations approval can be achieved from your local authority or via a private approved inspector service. For more information on your responsibilities, click here
Do I need a Structural Engineer?
If you are modifying the structure of a building in any way, for example, altering load-bearing walls or removing chimney breasts, you will need a Structural Engineer to complete the calculations for these works. We can also confirm in a letter that specific walls are or are not load-bearing.
If new structural elements are being completed, such as new roofs, floors or foundations, then it is critical that you employ a Structural Engineer.
Generally speaking- most house extensions will require structural calculation as the existing external wall will be "opened up" to provide access to the new building/extension.
How much will the Structural Engineer cost?
We work on a price per calculation basis; on our site visit, we will agree with you on the amount of calculation required. For example, one beam plus its bearings will be one calculation. If you have any drawings of your proposed project, we can give you a rough estimate of how many calculations we think will be required. Still, due to the nature of the job, we will not know how many calculations will be required until we have appropriately inspected your property. Once we have permission, we will start the calculations.
For smaller-scale projects, to save the client money, we will simply mark up an existing drawing or produce a basic sketch. This is generally enough to satisfy building control and your builder without paying for expensive drawings.
Once I've employed a Structural Engineer, what happens then?
We will organise a suitable time to visit you and the property to discuss your project with you. We can discuss the various options you may have and suggest alternatives that may be more cost-efficient and effective. Once we agree on the best solution, we will go away and produce the necessary calculations. The calculations generally take a week for a smaller-scale project, but we will try to meet your deadline if you are stuck for time.
Once we have completed our design (including the calculations and our sketches), they will be ready to submit to your builder (to complete your cost estimate/ tender) and building control. In some cases, building control will wish to check our design.
How long does it take to produce your calculations and drawings?
Generally, for typical smaller domestic extension or refurbishment works, the Structural Engineer will require one week from the time they visit the site to produce calculations and basic drawings. Obviously, this can vary depending on the scale of the project.
Do I need 'Full Plans' Building regulations approval or can I do the works under a 'Building Notice'?
There are two types of applications for Building Regulation approval:
- A 'Full Plans' application
This typically takes longer to get approved (approximately 8 weeks) but when it is approved the Building Control Officer should not ask your builder to alter anything as long as they are building to the plans. This is usually the most relevant application for larger projects.
- A 'Building Notice'
This is submitted to the council 48 hours before the works are due to commence on site. The Building Control Officer has the right to alter anything they do not think is suitable when they inspect the building site during the works. This is the most common approach to applying for Building Control approval with small domestic works.
Do I need Planning permission?
We would recommend you seek the advice of your local council or your Architect.
Further information is also available here.
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