Highly Experienced Structural Engineers in Worcestershire
We are responsible for making buildings stand up or advising you why the building isn’t stable! Structural Engineering is an area of civil engineering and it can be a really diverse subject. The majority of work carried out by a Structural Engineer involves designing structures such as buildings, bridges, tunnels etc. The structural engineers tend to work as consultants to architects or building contractors.
Do you need a Structural Engineer?
Are you looking to renovate your home? These generally tend to be the need for a Structural Engineer to be called upon. They can look at the changes you plan to make with your home and guide you on stability and safety, along with working with the contractor to organise sound materials and estimations.
Structural Engineers are often required for:
- Loft Conversions
- Interior Wall Modifications
- Window or Door Modifications
- Solar Panels
- Chimney Removal
Are you buying a house? You may need to appoint a structural engineer to carry out a structural property survey. They will inspect the property to determine any issues with the build structure, subsidence or sagging roofs which could impact the sale.
Before You Appoint A Structural Engineer
Are They Qualified & Insured?
It is important to do your research and ensure you are dealing with someone who is a Chartered Engineer or an Incorporated Engineer. Also, it is vital you check that they carry both Professional Indemnity & Public Liability Insurance.
What experience do they have?
It is important to choose the right Structural Engineer for your project. Someone with qualifications and quality experience in a wide variety of work will ensure you have a wealth of technical expertise and problem solving in most areas.
Do they have glowing reviews?
Can they provide you with honest and valuable testimonials from a wide range of previous projects to give you confidence in their level of service?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Surveyor and what is a Structural Engineer?
A Surveyor will give you a general report on the overall health of your house. A surveyor will usually advise you when you need a Structural Engineer to come and look at/inspect and advise how to put right a part of your house that structurally weak.
What’s a Structural Survey?
Although Architects and those directly involved in the building/construction industry are familiar with the expert skills of Chartered Structural Engineers, the general public tend not to know what Structural Engineers do.
Structural engineering is a speciality discipline within Civil Engineering. Chartered Structural Engineers analyse, design, plan and research structural components and structural systems to achieve design goals and to ensure the safety and comfort of users or occupants. They also design structures not deflect or vibrate beyond acceptable limits. Consideration is also given to durability of materials against possible deterioration which may impair performance over the design lifetime.
Their work takes account of mainly safety, technical, economic and environmental concerns, but they may also consider aesthetic and social factors.
They will advise on new builds; on the safe removal of walls, chimney breasts, etc.; on groundwork issues/types of foundation and solutions; on refurbishing old and/or damaged buildings; and much more. Usually this will involve a site visit following which they provide design details (to show layout of beams, walls, posts, foundations with sizes; connection joints; truss layout; and any reinforcement that might be needed to the foundations) and they prepare calculations showing the sizes of the building elements needed.
So, a Structural Engineer is a professional who is sufficiently qualified and experienced to advise on structural issues and provide the necessary design and calculations to ensure buildings are safely constructed – in order that they are strong enough and stable enough to resist all appropriate structural loads (e.g.: gravity, wind, rain, snow, temperature, earth pressure, seismic effects, and traffic) so that they do not collapse, warp, sink, etc. and so that loss of life or injury is prevented or reduced.
Hence, “Structural Engineering is about ensuring a structure is capable of standing up and withstanding the pressures of use that the building is subjected to – including the potential weather conditions for the locality.”
But not all ‘Structural Engineers’ are fully qualified or experienced.
When employing a Structural Engineer always ensure that they are “Chartered”.
To quote the Institution of Structural Engineers, “Chartered Members have achieved a high level of personal achievement and professional competence. Chartered Structural Engineers are entitled to use the designation MIStructE.”
Paul Marshall is a Chartered Structural Engineer and member of the Engineering Council
It depends entirely upon the complexity of the project, on problems being experienced with your property and/or your intentions for the property. Basically, you will need a Structural Engineer whenever assessment as to safety is necessary in respect of a new structure or alterations affecting an existing building.
Here are some examples of when you would need a Structural Engineer:
- If you notice (or a Surveyor has expressed concern regarding) cracking, bulging or subsidence.
- If you wish to modify a building by removing load bearing walls or chimney breasts.
- If you wish to extend the property, outwards or into the loft.
- If you intend cutting timbers out of a roof structure.
- If you intend widening doorways or windows.
- If you intend digging basements or lowering floors.
- If you plan to build on soft or contaminated ground, or near large trees.
Not only will the Structural Engineer be able to give you valuable advice, they will provide you with the necessary design details and calculations. A Structural Engineer’s report on your property not only provides peace of mind but it can also help when you come to sell the property especially if the buyer’s solicitor asks difficult questions about previous defects such as subsidence and about any alterations that have been made to the property.
Note: Most house extensions require some sort of structural calculation as existing external wall(s) will be punctured to provide access to the extension. Also, if you are renovating an existing building, a Structural Engineer will need to make a site visit and prepare a document proving to Building Control that the existing structure is sound and suitable for the building’s new usage.
What is the difference between a Surveyors Report and a Structural Engineers Report
If you are buying a property, it is always advisable to arrange for a survey to be carried out by a Chartered Surveyor, particularly if the property is more than 10 years old.
If you are buying the property with a mortgage, you should not rely solely on the mortgage valuation report as this is prepared for the mortgage lender to confirm the security of the loan. This may not highlight all specific defects or inadequacies.
There are two principal types of Building Survey that are recognised by The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
1. Homebuyer Survey and Valuation
This survey has a standard format and aims to report on all parts of the building that can easily be seen by the Surveyor.
The survey endeavours to comment on the overall condition of the property and to identify which areas are of concern and may require further investigation.
The survey is considered appropriate for conventional type properties, including houses, flats and bungalows, which are in reasonable condition and built in about the last 150 years.
Items such as services including drainage, wiring and gas, etc., are not included in these surveys.
The Homebuyer Survey should identify any major defects and associated cost implications. It should include items such as damp and woodworm and an assessment of the quality of any insulation or damp-proofing. This survey will also provide a valuation of the property.
It is common for the survey to provide recommendations for further investigation by other specialists in respect of certain defects.
Marshall Structures are regularly referred by local Surveyors to provide advice or recommendations relating to specific structural defects identified in the Surveyors Report.
2. Building Survey
This survey is more comprehensive and therefore more expensive than the Homebuyer Survey and is appropriate for all residential properties. It will provide a much fuller indication of the construction and condition of the property.
A Building Survey is generally required for older buildings or buildings that are in a poor state of repair or have been extensively altered or converted. The survey should include all visible defects and likely cost of the repairs and testing together with recommendations relating to insulation, damp, damp-proofing and woodworm.
The Survey Report will also provide comprehensive information regarding the construction of the property and information about its location.
The Survey Report does not normally include a valuation of the property but can be arranged as an extra item.
It is common that the survey may recommend further investigation to be carried out by a specialist in respect of certain defects.
Marshall Structures are regularly referred by local surveyors to provide advice and recommendations relating to specific structural defects identified in the Survey Report.
If you are not seeking a mortgage to buy a property which appears to be in good condition or is of recent construction, a further cheaper option may be a Valuation Report.
This should provide a simple valuation of the property with comments on any major defects. This is similar to a mortgage valuation for a bank or building society.
Any major defects identified may need to be referred to a specialist in the area of work. Marshall Structures are often contacted to provide advice relating to structural defects.
When else might I need a Structural Engineer
If the work simply involves, for instance, the removal of a load bearing wall we would be able to give you an indication of our fee for our services. We would visit your property, take the necessary details and then provide calculations and details suitable for Building Regulations, to enable a builder to carry out the works.
If the work is more extensive, such as building an extension, we would most likely refer you to a local Architect. He/she would give you a quotation for their fees. They would then draw up plans and, if necessary, make a Planning Application. After Planning Permission had been granted, the Architect or ourselves will be able to provide a quote for Structural Engineering design. We would then provide the calculations and details suitable for Building Regulations to enable a builder to carry out the works.
After you have received both the Architect’s drawings and specifications, and our calculations and details, you should obtain competitive quotations for the work from three local builders.