Several home renovation projects could require the involvement of a structural engineer. If you’re looking at having an extension, demolition or conversion carried out in some area of your home, you’ll likely need to hire a structural engineer to do some calculations on the type of support your house is going to need.
Our guide takes a look at what is involved in hiring a structural engineer, including how much they are likely to charge, what affects the cost of hiring a structural engineer, how you can save money and the best way to find a qualified structural engineer to help you with your home development projects.
How Much Do Structural Engineers Charge?
There is a fluctuation in pricing costs for structural engineers. The final cost of hiring one will largely depend on the type of home renovation project you are looking at undertaking.
For small projects, a structural engineer might wish to be paid by the hour, mid-sized projects might incur a set fee agreed upon beforehand, whilst larger scale projects might mean that a structural engineer will charge a percentage of the total build cost. If this is the case it usually operates on a sliding scale.
|Structural Engineer Job||Estimated Cost|
|Fee per hour||£100-£200|
|Fee to calculate RSJ per beam||£60-£250|
|Structural survey including VAT (includes site visit, consultation and written report)||£550-£1,200|
|Structural drawings including VAT (includes site visit, calculations and drawings)||£800-£2,700|
|Loft conversion or extension including VAT (includes site visit, calculations and drawings)||£750-£2,200|
An estimated hourly fee to hire a structural engineer is £100-£200. A structural engineer will typically take a look at the job on hand and let you know what kind of fee system they think would work out best for the project.
A structural engineer is most commonly called upon to calculate the necessary RSJ beams that may be required for a home development project. This fee is usually £60-£250 per beam, but if there are many additional beams, they may offer you a discount on the total price instead of charging per beam.
A structural survey carried out by a structural engineer includes a site visit, consultation on the project, calculations of necessary supports and a written report on their findings. This normally costs between £550-£1,200 depending on the size of the job.
It’s also possible that a structural engineer will need to carry out some drawings for the project. These drawings include the calculations of the project with details such as the materials that will need to be used, the weight of the build and the support needed.
A fee for an engineer’s structural drawings is estimated to cost £800-£2,700 and this fee includes a site visit, structural calculations and any additional structural drawings.
If you’re hoping to undertake a larger structural project, such as a loft conversion or extension, you should anticipate a larger fee, most likely between the range of £750-£2,000. This fee includes a site visit, necessary calculations and structural drawings.
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What Affects the Cost of Hiring a Structural Engineer?
Naturally, some factors will impact the total cost of hiring a structural engineer for your project. Let’s take a look at some of these factors below so that you have an idea of what to be aware of when considering hiring a structural engineer.
Nature and Scope of the Project
This is one of the key factors that will determine the final cost of hiring a structural engineer. A smaller project will cost substantially less than a larger and more complex project which could see you potentially needing to pay upwards of £2,000 for a structural engineer’s fee.
As you can see from the table above, a structural engineer can carry out many different jobs and these vary in pricing. There is a difference between the amount of labour required to assess RSJ beams and the amount needed to carry out calculations for an entire loft conversion, so you should expect a structural engineer fee to fluctuate depending on what the job is.
It can seem expensive to hire a structural engineer and tempting to maybe skip over the hire entirely but do remember that structural engineers are trained to a high degree and can bring a wealth of knowledge and improvements to your project, as well as providing you with the necessary safety advice that could ensure your project goes ahead and passes Building Regulations approval.
Where you are located in the UK will impact the final cost of hiring a structural engineer.
If you’re located in central London and the southeast, you can expect the prices to be more expensive than if your property is located in the Midlands, northern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
You should try and take your location into account when creating a budget for this type of project.
Independent Contractor or Large Firm Employee
There are pros and cons to hiring an individual contractor or a larger firm employee and you should feel free to meet and receives quotes from all types of contractors to see which type of engineer fits your needs best.
You may also notice a difference in price in the quotes you receive.
An individual contractor may charge you less than a large firm employee, but the firm employee may have undertaken specific qualifications provided to them in their role that the contractor has not.
For this reason, the hiring of an individual or an employee is largely down to personal preference and what you, as the homeowner, consider important qualities to receive from a tradesperson you hire.
Planning Permission or Building Registration Approval
When it comes to Building Regulations, many structural engineers will include the cost of submitting plans to the regulations for approval in their final fee. Your project will need to meet Building Regulations as an inspector will come and make sure the structure meets requirements.
The cost of submitting a Building Regulation application can vary from £150-£300, whilst inspections can cost from £200-£650 depending on the regularity and number of inspections required.
These costs are separate from the costs of applying for planning permission, as planning permission is required for larger projects that are not covered by permitted development rights.
A planning application in England costs £206 and you should contact your local planning authority to find out their planning application fees if you are located in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
You should also be aware that planning permission application costs can and will increase depending on the size and nature of the project.
When Do I Need a Structural Engineer?
A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you’re undertaking a project that may compromise the stability of a building, you should seek to hire a structural engineer for their advice and recommendations.
You should likely look into hiring a structural engineer if you are planning to go ahead with any of the below home development projects:
- Removing or changing load-bearing walls
- Changing doors or windows
- Underpinning floors
- Removing a chimney breast
- Loft conversions
- Cellar or basement conversions
How Can I Save Money When Hiring a Structural Engineer?
It’s important to note that saving money should not be the main priority when it comes to hiring a structural engineer. Of course, it’s tempting to scrimp and save when you can, but the job of a structural engineer ensures your property’s stability so that no injury comes to the residents.
You want a highly qualified and experienced structural engineer to look at your project and give you detailed feedback on the kind of support your property will need.
As mentioned previously, there is a chance that hiring an independent engineer as opposed to an employee at a large firm with higher overheads could potentially cut down your fee, but make sure to find out what is included in any quotes you receive.
Consider hiring a structural engineer as an investment in the property, saving you both time and money in the future.
Do I Need a Structural Engineer, an Architect, or Both?
There is some confusion about the difference between these two professions, and it does so happen that there is a fair amount of overlap between the two. We’d recommend, if budget allows, that you hire both as both bring to the table slightly different and shared areas of knowledge.
A structural engineer mainly focuses on looking at the weight of a building and what structural support is necessary to keep the building’s stability intact. They will specify what steel beams and other supporting elements may be needed for the project.
For larger and more complex jobs, such as conversions and extensions, a structural engineer’s work is essential to keep the building safe and make sure it passes all regulatory requirements.
An architect, on the other hand, works closely with the homeowner to turn their dream development project into a reality. This means they will look at both the aesthetic design of a project and the structural side of it.
An architect will ensure the project gains planning permission and Building Regulations approval.
This means there are times when an architect and structural engineer may work together. An architect may oversee the project, with the structural engineer ensuring that the proposed structure is safe and supported.
If you have a larger project, you may need to consult with an architect first to turn the ideas into something substantial, whereas if you are simply wishing to remove a load-bearing wall, you can speak directly to a structural engineer.
An architect will be able to advise you if a structural engineer is required to visit your property, as part of their job is ensuring the build or renovation will be as safe as it can be.
How Do I Find and Hire a Structural Engineer?
We always advise seeking recommendations from family, friends and neighbours about any work they may have undertaken themselves that have required a structural engineer.
This way you can have peace of mind that about who you’re hiring and may even be able to see their work first-hand.
You can also check the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) or Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) websites and be safe in the knowledge that their members are qualified and governed by guidelines.
HouseholdQuotes offers you a quick and easy way to compare quotes from vetted structural engineers, with the potential to save you 40% on your project quote. Use our website to search for the right structural engineer for your project and your budget.
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Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
It’s a good idea to make sure you have a list of questions ready to verify that the professional you are hoping to hire is the right fit for you.
- Ask them for a written quote. Make sure to find out whether a written report is included in the final cost. Not all structural engineers provide a written report, so if this is a requirement of yours, make sure to ask for clarification on this matter.
- Ask for their experience. In all cases, but particularly if you are undergoing a larger renovation, you should hire an experienced structural engineer.
- For their references. If they can provide you with references you can be sure of their ability and may even be able to see some of their previous work.
- If they and their tools are insured. This can protect you from lawsuits if they or your property is damaged when they come to your home.
Use this checklist to make sure you have got everything you need before you begin searching for a structural engineer to help you with your project:
- Consider the scope of the project and what structural work will need to be undertaken.
- If you’re working with an architect speak to them about the necessity of hiring a structural engineer.
- Use HouseholdQuotes to search quotes between structural engineers and find the best fit for your project.
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Frequently Asked Questions:
Will I Need Planning Permission or Buildings Regulation Approval for my Project?
Planning Portal can give you advice on what projects will and won’t need planning permission and what the Building Regulations are for common projects. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if your plans are likely to impact the stability of the building, you will require planning permission.