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Structural Engineer Cost

Structural Engineer Cost

National average
$1,200
(detailed assessment and inspection of a home prior to a renovation)
Low: $300

(inspecting a load-bearing wall and planning for removal)

High: $19,000

(consulting on the construction of a new home and drafting all plans with elevations for foundations, walls, and roof)

Cost to hire an structural engineer varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from structural engineers in your city.

The average cost to hire a structural engineer is $500 - $2,000.

In this guide

When Should I Hire a Structural Engineer?
Cost Factors of a Structural Engineer
Labor Cost Per Hour
Labor Cost Per Square Foot
Labor Cost Per Project
Home Inspector vs Structural Engineer
Additional Costs and Considerations
FAQs

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer?

If you are planning on buying, selling, or remodeling a home, you may want to consider hiring a structural engineer to help you through the process. Structural engineers are specialized civil engineers who help calculate things like load, determining how the walls, foundation, roof, and structure of your home will handle their weight. Structural engineers take on a wide range of projects, from simple inspections to helping build enormous structures. This leads to a wide range of associated costs for this service. The average homeowner starting a house renovation would likely hire a structural engineer to assess the situation and determine if additional work is necessary. The average range for this project is between $500 and $2,000, depending on the scope of the project. Most homeowners spend around $1,200, including plans to correct uncovered issues.

When Should I Hire a Structural Engineer?

Structural engineers do a lot, and many people may not know when or why to call them. Architects and builders often rely on them and employ them as part of their firm. So if you are building a new home or addition, there is likely a structural engineer already on the team. The architect is concerned with how the home will look and be laid out, while the structural engineer ensures it can support the weight safely.

Structural engineers do more than this, however. They assist in small renovations, such as the removal of a load-bearing wall 1. They assess damage to a home after a storm, check for issues with foundations and help determine the cause and a plan of action for correcting the problem, and find the cause of issues like settling, shifting, or warping of walls and floors.

Structural engineers also decide if your existing roof can handle heavier roofing materials or the weight of solar panels or wind turbines.

Call a structural engineer any time you plan on buying or selling a home and when you make renovations to an existing home. Your builder or architect will likely call one in for additions and new construction projects.

Finally, if you find yourself in an argument with a third party about the structure of the home, such as with a builder who may not have used the correct materials, call a structural engineer to help settle the matter.

Cost Factors of a Structural Engineer

Many factors determine the cost of hiring a structural engineer. The first is the scope of the project. Small projects that do not require drawings or only a few drawings cost significantly less than major projects. The second is how much time the engineer needs to spend on it. For example, an inspection may take less time than working on new construction, so the rate may be billed differently.

Some structural engineers bill by the project, while others bill by the hour or square foot. Therefore, you can get varying pricing for the same job when you contact different engineers.

Labor Cost Per Hour

Some structural engineers charge by the hour. This is usually done for projects that involve a lot of drawings and time spent on the project site. Rates range from $100 - $500 an hour, depending on the level of expertise by the engineer, scope of the project, and the area. This rate can also change depending on whether you hire a firm or contact an engineer directly.

Labor Cost Per Square Foot

Labor costs, when calculated by the square foot, tend to be a percentage of the total project cost. This is because the engineer is not using materials and labor per square foot the way a contractor or installer may. Instead, the entire square footage of the project is used to calculate a base rate, which in turn becomes a percentage of the total project. This is done mostly for new construction and some larger additions. It usually works out to 8% of the total project cost.

Labor Cost Per Project

Some structural engineers charge by the project, giving a total for the entire scope of work. Because a structural engineer can have many roles, there may be many set projects.

Some projects that they may work on include:

  • Project Management: Project management is usually based on the scope of the total project, but the average cost for this service is around $20,000.
  • Drafting Building Plans: Drafting makes up a large part of what a structural engineer does. While they usually charge by the hour for this service, a set of very basic plans usually costs around $500.
  • Home Inspection: A home inspection can take on many facets, including checking for dry rot, reviewing the foundation for stability, looking at erosion, stability, subflooring 2, storm or water damage, and other issues that may impact the safety of the home. Inspections start at $300 and may go as high as $1,000 for a total building inspection.
  • Load-Bearing Wall Inspection: If you plan on moving a load-bearing wall on your property, then you need an inspection to determine a plan of action. This usually starts at $150 - $300.
  • Foundation Inspection: Foundation inspections may be necessary if the house is settling or the foundation is cracking. They start at $300 in most cases.
  • Reports: If you need a report after an inspection, such as in the buying or selling of a home, the engineer can usually write one out for you at a starting cost of $150.
  • Drawings: Most plans require drawings of some kind, whether you are building an addition, moving a load-bearing wall, or installing solar panels. The drawings help you, the engineer, and the builder better understand what needs to be done. Simple drawings may cost $150 to $200, while a complex set of drawings may cost $1,500.

Structural Engineer Labor Costs Per Project

ProjectCosts
Project management$20,000
Drafting building plans$500
Home Inspection$300 - $1,000
Load-bearing wall inspection$150 - $300
Foundation inspection$300
Reports$150
Drawings$150 - $1,500


Home Inspector vs Structural Engineer

Because structural engineers often do home inspections, many people may confuse the two roles. A home inspector is a generalist. They look at the entire building and search for problems that are on the surface. In fact, if a home inspector sees an issue with the structure of the home, they may recommend calling a structural engineer to tell you more. While the home inspector helps you make an informed decision about a new home, a structural engineer gives you the details about what it may take to fix issues as well as what may be causing them.

Additional Costs and Considerations

  • Different locations have varying costs for structural engineering. Expensive cities, such as San Francisco, New York, and Boston, may have higher hourly rates than in less populated parts of the country.
  • Many structural engineers submit building plans for regulations, along with the cost of their overall fees.
  • Plans can take between a day and several months, depending on how complicated the plans are and how busy the engineer is.
  • Structural engineering is a subset of civil engineering, but structural engineering is a more specialized area that requires more schooling. Structural engineers focus more on projects that involve load-bearing.
  • Always make sure that the engineer is licensed. Ask for their license number and check it against the state. Keep in mind that unlicensed engineers may be allowed to perform certain tasks under the supervision of a licensed engineer.

FAQs

  • What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineers look at the load-bearing structures in a building to determine if they are safe. 

  • How much does a structural home inspection cost?

This has a wide range of costs starting at around $300, but the average inspection with plans is about $1,200

  • What qualifications do you need to become a structural engineer?

Most structural engineers have at least a Master’s degree in their field and a base in civil engineering. 

  • Who pays for a structural engineer’s report?

The person who hires the structural engineer generally pays, but if you contracted through an architect or builder, you are still liable for the fee. 

  • Do I need a structural engineer to remove a wall?

Only if the wall is load-bearing, in which case the structural engineer helps you determine the best course of action. 

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Load-bearing wall: A wall that supports the weight of the house, transferring it to the foundation
glossary term picture Subfloor 2 Subflooring: The bottom-most layer of a floor, supported by joists, over which finished flooring material is laid

Cost to hire an structural engineer varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Structural Engineer with Helmet and Clipboard Ensuring the Building Stability

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Big Arm, MT
-43%
Butler, KY
-43%
Chelsea, MA
+36%
Desoto, TX
+7%
Dolton, IL
+11%
Loveland, OH
-18%
Portland, OR
+11%
Robbins, IL
+40%
San Rafael, CA
+25%
Seattle, WA
+9%
Suwanee, GA
+16%
West Palm Beach, FL
-2%
Whittier, CA
+11%
Labor cost in your zip code
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Methodology and sources