Structural Engineering – What are the Benefits?
According to most local code jurisdictions in North Carolina, you do not need a structural engineer to construct a new home. You also don’t need to see a physician at any time in your life until the pain warrants immediate care!
Today’s house plans and building materials simply warrant the review of a structural engineer. As we strive for energy efficiency, economy, and creative design, we stretch material capabilities and try to balance our champagne tastes vs. our beer budget. A good structural engineer can ensure that the plan you have chosen will not only meet state building code requirements, but will also be the right mix of building materials to create the home you are comfortable in and willing to pay for.
The homes that our grandparents bought were typically rectangular in shape and were constructed of standard saw mill lumber and brick and block masonry. Rooms were typically small (12’ or less in any one dimension) and tall ceiling heights were generally unheard of. The size and number of windows was small.
Contrast that to the standard custom homes of today! We like larger, more open rooms with high ceilings. We call for energy efficiency and environmentally-friendly construction materials. We want more glass in a wall than we want insulation and wood framing.
These construction parameters call out for a structural engineer. Roofs are no longer simple. We like hips and gables and dormers and changes in roof pitch. The structural engineer has the capabilities to define how what looks pretty will be constructed. From the concrete footings supporting the foundation walls to tracing the load points from roof framing and end reactions of beams, the structural design layout ensures the stability of the structure and economizes the materials.
If you want your next home to be the baseline model, don’t hire a structural engineer and have it built to code minimums. If you want your home to be a precision, high performance structure constructed within your budget, hire a structural engineer and find the peace of mind that comes with guaranteed stability and better resale value.
by Brooke Carpenter, Owner – Residential Engineering Services, PA