FAQs #1: How To Choose a Structural Engineer
Buildings can be complex. Whether it’s a rental property or your own home, you’ll want to ensure any work carried out on it is done correctly and safely.
Part of ensuring this is making sure you choose the right structural engineer, but how do you do that?
“I need to hire a structural engineer, but I’ve never done it before, how do I make sure I appoint the right one?”
Appointing a structural engineer can be quite a daunting decision to make, whether it’s for a one-off consultation, a whole refurbishment, or a new development.
Luckily, with a bit of research, it can be made a lot simpler. By following the steps below, you’ll be able to find a quality structural engineer that you can trust.
Make Sure They are Chartered
You may be surprised to learn that the term “structural engineer” is not protected. This means that anyone can describe themselves as such and undertake designs and provide calculations.
However, the term “chartered engineer” is protected, and it’s very straightforward to find out if an engineer is chartered.
The first clue is if they have designatory letters after their name. Some of the letters you may see are:
CEng – This denotes they are a chartered engineer,
MIStructE – This shows they are qualified as a Chartered member of the Institution of Structural Engineers
FIStructE – A Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Structural Engineers
MICE – This indicates they are a Chartered member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
FICE – A Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Civil Engineers
You may be thinking that these letters by their name don’t necessarily mean they actually have the qualifications, so to be sure, you can ask for a copy of their certificate of membership or check with the appropriate institution. (www.istructe.org or www.ice.org.uk.)
What "chartered engineer" means
A chartered engineer is a qualified member of a professional institution that carries a royal charter.
With a chartered engineer, you can be assured that they have undergone a rigorous qualification process in order to practice as an engineer.
The word chartered can only apply to an individual, not a company.
Should Only a Chartered Engineer Undertake the Calculations?
As with any profession, training is required to reach the required standard, and an engineer has to start somewhere, so calculations don’t have to be provided by a chartered engineer.
You should, however, expect anyone training to be supervised by experienced engineer. A reputable company will ensure that any engineer will be competent to undertake the structural design entrusted to them, as well as getting designs checked by an independent engineer.
It should also be noted that the local Building Control office should ensure that a new or adapted building is safe; but it’s not necessarily their role to thoroughly check the details of every structural design.
Check if They Have Insurance
Generally, but not always, a structural engineer will take out Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII).
The primary purpose of this insurance is to provide protection to the individual or business against claims for loss or damage made by a client or third party if mistakes occur or they are found to have been negligent in some, or all the services provided.
As a client, this insurance should provide a level of peace of mind, as if a claim becomes necessary, there will be financial resources to cover the costs.
Other Points to Consider
This is where it can get more difficult.
You’ll want to make sure your structural engineer is looking after your best interests. Ask two engineers to carry out a design and you could well get two different, perfectly safe designs.
However, one may be more efficient, or easier to build reducing the overall building cost and the difference in building costs can easily exceed the difference in the professional fees.
Sometimes, innovation is required to meet a particular requirement and this may well distinguish structural engineers.
How Modulus Compares
At Modulus, we understand how difficult and potentially daunting undergoing building work can be. It’s an area that concerns either your own home or buildings, and when done wrong, can have catastrophic implications.
For your peace of mind, we have procedures in place to ensure that any structural design we undertake is done so by suitably competent staff, and that we are readily available for any queries or guidance.
All of our projects are checked by a qualified and independent engineer, and the inspection process is recorded for future reference.
Finally, all projects undergo an approval process before they are issued, and again this is recorded.
Modulus has PII cover for at least £1,000,000 and our standard terms and conditions oblige us to maintain that cover for at least six years after completion of any project.
If you’re looking for a structural engineer for your project, you can use our simple and fast quote calculator here, email us your project details to firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone us to discuss your needs further on 01256 768588.