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How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Residential Structural Engineer?

Typical Range: $323 - $658

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Engineer Rates

The average national cost to hire a structural engineer is about $490, but this can range from $323 and $658, depending on your project. You may pay between $100 and $150 per hour, or a square foot cost that averages around 8% of your total project cost.
A structural engineer has expertise and training in areas concerning the structural soundness of your home. You would hire one to both advise and to plan a home or addition. This is also the professional to call when your existing home has issues like foundation problems, sagging roofs or sliding chimneys. They help figure out ways to reconstruct those areas safely.

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National Average $490
Typical Range $323 - $658
Low End - High End $200 - $1,260

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Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,294 HomeAdvisor members in .
structural engineers cost $500 on average nationally

Average Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer

Various factors can affect the cost you might pay to hire an engineer to check the integrity of your home, such as:
  • Dealing with load-bearing walls
  • Addressing issues in the foundation
  • Changing the layout of your home
  • New construction versus addition
The more complicated the project, the more you should expect to pay for these services.

Hourly Rates

Expect to pay between $100 and $150 per hour. This is one of the pricier types of professionals because he or she is a highly trained expert in civil engineering who holds an advanced degree. The total price is based on the following factors:
  • Complexity of the project
  • How long the engineer has been employed in the field
  • Geographic region
Many structural engineers work on a three-part payment plan that typically calls for about 25% up front. The second payment can range anywhere from 25%-50%, and the final payment takes care of the remainder of balance.
structural engineers cost $100 to $150 per hour

Calculating Fee Per Square Foot

Because every situation is unique, it's difficult to predict the cost-per-square-foot of hiring this professional for your project, but it's a safe assumption to dedicate at least 8% of the total cost of your renovation to this necessity.
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Prices for Inspection Reports & Plans

Cost of Assessments

Assessments cost between $300 and $400 and are completed by a structural engineer to help ensure that your home is structurally sound. During this inspection, he or she may check for such things as dry rot, infestation, shifting foundations, erosion and more. He or she may examine the integrity of load-bearing walls, joists, beams, roofing and foundations. Upon receiving your assessment, you'll have a better idea of which improvements are necessary.


Reports are generated after the assessment and typically included in the cost of the assessment. This is where your professional either grants your home a clean bill of health or itemizes which improvements need to be made. Reports will include recommendations on the work that should be done.

Engineering Plans Costs

Plan to devote 45% of your overall engineering budget to plans and drawings.
plans and drawings make up 45 percent of total engineering fee
Once you've had an assessment done and agreed to the improvements, your draftsman will draw up a plan to address them. This may include repairing a foundation, repairing or replacing load-bearing beams or reinforcing ceiling joists to withstand the additional weight of solar panels. Regardless of what types of improvements need to be done, your draftsman will come up with a plan to address them. While it's difficult to predict exactly what it will cost to have a specific plan drawn up, it's safe to assume that final design services, which include paperwork, will run at least 45% of the entire engineering fee.
As far as timing goes, plans can be completed in a day, in a week or over several months, depending upon how busy your draftsman is and how complicated the changes.


Drawings by a draftsman are used to help both you and your builders better visualize the work that needs to be done. To estimate the cost, multiply the hourly rate of your draftsman (usually between $100 and $130 per hour) by the hours needed to complete the drawings. For instance, a good draftsman can typically draw up the plans for a three-bedroom home within about 10 hours, which would put the cost between $1,000 and $1,300.
If you desire customizations to your plans, such as having an actual blueprint printed onto vellum paper or obtaining the AutoCAD program that contains the drawings, add anywhere from $800 to $1,400 in extra cost.
There are four essential types of drawings used:
  • Standard: include common details that exist across a wide variety of projects and include such things as concrete box culverts and column bases.
  • Reinforcement: specify the location of materials used to reinforce the structure. They show the proposed locations of steel fixers and trimming bars.
  • Structural: deal with the placement of concrete, rebar, and other materials used to reinforce the building.
  • Record: keep track of any modifications made to the original plans.
Your finished drawings will need to be approved by either your architect or your engineer, depending upon their complexity.
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Inspection Costs

Type of InspectionAvg. Cost
Load Bearing Walls$100-$150 per hour


The cost of hiring an engineer to inspect your foundation runs between $300 and $1,000 and is dependent upon the size and type of the home, the hourly rate charged by the professional, and the regional area where the it's located.

Load Bearing Walls

Only a structural engineer is qualified to identify load-bearing walls, but this type of inspection generally only takes a short amount of time and costs between $100 and $150 per hour. Multiply the hourly rate by the time to complete.


There are three levels of chimney inspection, including:
  • Level 1: Visual check
  • Level 2: Visual check with attic, roof and crawlspace.
  • Level 3: Often destructive. typically occurs after a fire and requires the rebuilding of the chimney in question.
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When Should I Hire a Structural Engineer?

If your building has no load-bearing beams or columns but just timber joists and rafters, an architect or architectural technician may suffice. It typically costs more to employ the services of an architect, however. But if load-bearing walls, chimney breasts, or other structural elements are being moved, added or eliminated, it is crucial that you call on someone with specified training in structural integrity.
Complicated projects may also require early input from an engineer. If you are extending your home, this is the person who will produce the necessary building approval documentation. They will make a site visit and prepare some calculations. Sometimes they will also obtain the drawings from your architect and produce their own drawings from them.
You might also need to enlist structural services if you're having solar panels installed, moving or modifying the locations of doors, windows or skylights, or if you're addressing the underpinnings of a floor. Adding heavier roofing, adding a second or third floor, or repairing your home from damage done by natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, or flooding will also require the services of an engineer to ensure that the work done is safe and stable.

Is It Required I Use a Structural Engineer For My Project?

Many times your inspector or contractor will be able to handle some of this responsibility, but make sure that you ask the question as to whether or not it would be a good idea to consult one. While this might be an extra cost you didn't initially anticipate, the safety of your building is paramount. This simple exercise can save you money and legal hassles down the road
Any large changes that affect the integrity of your home require the input of a professional. You'll need drawings and reports in order to get your permits approved, plus you'll want the peace of mind knowing that your new addition isn't going to collapse atop your family during the first strong wind.

What's the Difference Between a Home Inspector and Structural Engineer?

Wondering when to use a home inspector versus an engineer? It's good to understand the difference because the stability of your construction could depend on it.
A home inspector is the person to call when you need an overall assessment of your home or of the construction that you're currently building. This is the professional who will help determine how well your plumbing, electrical and HVAC work. He or she may inspect your fireplaces, chimneys, attic, basement, foundation and more, but only for obvious defects. A good home inspector will catch most run-of-the-mill issues such as dry-rot or mold growth, but he or she isn't necessarily an expert in structural defects. For advice and feedback on the bones of your home, hire an engineer.

"A 10,000 square foot home. That's going to be a lot more expensive than a 2,000 square foot home. Those projects range usually from $750 and up. And we do a structural inspection of the existing condition, provide them our observations, recommendations are engineering analysis and conclusion."

What's a Civil Engineer?

Structural engineering could be described almost as a category of Civil Engineering. While both deal with stability of design, the structural trade is a more targeted area. It requires more schooling to become certified in this discipline, typically a Master's or Doctorate Degree, and a structural engineer uses more analysis and focuses more on projects that involve load-bearing constructions.

What Can I Expect When an Engineer Visits My House/Site?

During a site visit, he or she may inspect the foundation, infrastructure, curtain wall, insulation, and building envelope. Through careful inspection and comparison to the approved building plans, the contractor will ensure the actual building meets the drawings provided or advise corrections. The pro is called in to inspect at specific stages of project completion, and official approval is often required before the next stage of development can begin.

How Do I Hire a Licensed Structural Engineer?

Contact your local city or county building officials and/or county surveyor's office to make sure the professionals you are talking with are actually licensed. Unregistered or unlicensed persons are allowed to perform engineering or land surveying services for you only if they are working under the responsible charge and direct supervision of a registered professional engineer or licensed professional land surveyor. Select two or more firms and ask for references from previous jobs similar to yours. Verify their expertise in your type of project and their ability to complete projects on time and on budget. Request a pro visits the project site to submit a written proposal, including the objectives, anticipated time schedule, and compensation. While some contractors do not charge for a preliminary visit, many do.
The structural engineer you hire can charge by the hour or by the project, but most will be able to give you a firm bid on the cost of your project before you begin. Make sure to ask for this in writing and to discuss how the cost might change if there are unforeseen issues or problems that arise when the project is underway. The largest single factor that affects a change in costs is the discovery of structural problems invisible during an initial viewing.
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