Are you ready to purchase a new property, or build the home of your dreams? Perhaps you’re planning a major renovation project for a home you already own, but whatever your plans may be, it’s always wise to work with the right professionals. Unfortunately, if you’re not familiar with the building trades, it’s not always easy to know which professional is suited for the job you’re planning to undertake. Before you start scheduling consultations and appointments, take a bit of time to familiarise yourself with a professional building inspector versus a structural engineer, so you’ll know who to call.
Understanding a Building Inspector’s Role
In most cases, when you’re purchasing a property, planning a new build or getting ready for a major renovation project, you’ll want to first contact a professional building inspector. Reputable companies will hire only experts within the building trades who have the experience necessary to evaluate all aspects of your project. From pre-purchase inspections before you assume ownership of a home to stage construction inspections designed to ensure your new project is completed properly every step of the way, a professional building inspector is your first line of defence against unforeseen defects, poor workmanship and structural flaws.
A professional building inspector will come out to your property in order to check specific areas of concern, based upon a pre-defined criteria. When the inspection is completed, you’ll get a full inspection report detailing the inspector’s findings. Unless you specify otherwise, most building inspections are a comprehensive evaluation designed to give you more information about the condition of the entire property, from drainage to potential structural faults.
When Do I Need a Structural Engineer?
There may be times when a structural engineer is the person best suited to attend your needs, but these professionals aren’t typically the first ones you should call. A structural engineer is trained to look for fault only with load-bearing walls, foundations and other areas which can have a deleterious effect on the building’s structural integrity. An inspection conducted by a structural engineer generally will not cover things like faulty drainage, wiring or plumbing issues. In most cases, a structural engineer should only be called in when fault has been found with a building’s underlying structure, or there’s concern about potential problems. In fact, most structural engineers will only come to evaluate a property when a builder or professional building inspector has recommended their highly specialised service.
As a general rule, a professional building inspector is your first line of defence, and will take a broad view of the property overall to determine whether or not the attentions of a structural engineer are warranted. Occasionally, potential areas of fault discovered by a building inspector will be severe enough to fall outside of the acceptable limits for building codes or Australian Standards. Should this be the case, working with a structural engineer will often be the next step.
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