When should I contact a Structural Engineer?
Generally, involving a structural engineer in the early stages has a lot of advantages. This is because an engineer can advise on the feasibility of a proposed scheme. Sometimes, schemes proceed through planning and a structural engineer is employed after planning is gained. The risk here is that the proposed design is structurally not achievable or is expensive to construct. Furthermore, principal structural members may end up having a visually intrusive appearance on the proposed scheme. A couple of examples where employing a structural engineer early on the scheme is advantageous:
After obtaining planning permission, you go on to employ a structural engineer. It is highly likely that the engineer will want to assess the ground conditions. Following the engineer’s investigation, the ground is found to be poor and the scheme will require piling resulting in significant costs. If this had been determined before planning, then the scheme could be designed to account for the poor soil conditions.
Following receipt of planning permission, you employ a structural engineer to design the structure around a large opening. The structural engineer will assess the scheme and may find that due to the opening, the building needs significant alteration to be structurally safe.
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