House surveys tend to be undertaken by chartered surveyors as part of a valuation, a homebuyer’s report, or a building survey. Such reports often highlight the need for a structural engineer to assess a specific structural defect, this would be more usually termed a structural inspection.
Who do I talk to first?
A structural engineer. If you are buying a home you might employ a structural engineer to investigate a problem, but you will need permission of the owner to make intrusive investigations.
Alternatively, if you find a structural defect in your home and contact your insurer to make a claim, they may ask you to hire a structural engineer to assess the problem.
What is involved in a structural inspection?
A structural inspection will normally involve an initial visual inspection and assessment of the problem’s structural aspects.
Sometimes, if a survey provides enough detail, it may be possible to move straight to intrusive investigations - which could include making trial holes to expose foundations; lifting floorboards to establish the size of joists; or cutting holes in the ceiling to establish how walls above are supported.
Why is a structural engineer necessary in a structural inspection?
A suitably experienced structural engineer will identify the probable causes of the defect through their understanding of how structures and materials behave.
This specialist knowledge goes beyond the general knowledge of a building surveyor.
What can I expect the structural engineer to provide and/or guarantee as part of the survey?
The structural engineer should provide you with a written report, outlining observations and conclusions and making recommendations for the next steps – whether intrusive investigations, a plan to monitor the problem for a fixed period, or a solution to the issue.