How Much Does a Structural Engineer Cost?

Typical Range:

$343 - $724

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 4,089 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated September 1, 2022

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Hiring a residential structural engineer costs $517 on average, with a typical range between $343 and $724. Structural engineering plans cost around $800 to $3,000 on average. 

These pros focus entirely on the function of the load-bearing structure and ensure the building structure uses the materials, proportions, and design necessary for it to remain standing under stress. You’d likely hire a residential structural engineer for a few reasons, including:

  • Adding an addition to your home

  • Inspecting chimneys, brickwork, structural components, and concrete cracks

  • Remodeling where structural supports exist (such as paying for the cost of blowing out a wall to make an open-concept home)

  • Building a home with uncommon dimensions or in precarious places that require unique supports 

  • Diagnosing foundational issues

Structural Engineer Cost Calculator

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National Average $517
Typical Range $343 - $724
Low End - High End $200 - $1,400

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 4,089 HomeAdvisor members.

Average Structural Engineer Fees

How much is a structural engineer? Engineering fees range from place to place and project to project. Average structural engineer fees range from $300 to $1,300 for most basic residential services. You might spend up to $5,000 or more on particularly complex projects. For some remodels, you might even hit $15,000 if they provide comprehensive services, like total project management.

Structural Engineer Rate TypeAverage Cost Range
Per project$300 – $5,000
Per square foot$0.25 – $2
Per hour$100 – $230
Percent of construction1% – 5%

Many structural engineers work on a three-part payment plan that happens after predetermined milestones:

  • First calls for about 25% upfront

  • Second payment ranges anywhere from 25%–50%

  • Third payment takes care of the remainder of the balance 

Additionally, structural engineers often charge using a combination of methods, including:

  • A percentage of total construction costs that includes a set amount of site visits, redlining, drawings, and reports

  • Per square footage  

  • Hourly for extras not included in the original proposal

Structural Engineering Cost per Square Foot

If a structural engineer charges per square foot, it’ll range from $0.50 to $2 per square foot, depending on the project type, budget, and size. However, per-square-foot pricing for residential homes isn’t common. You’re more likely to pay per hour, as a percentage of the project, or a combination of the two.

Structural Engineer Cost per Hour

You’ll pay a structural engineer around $100 to $230 per hour for ancillary or out-of-scope work, such as extra site visits not covered in the project price due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Most pros provide you with a total project price. They calculate the project pricing based on how much time they estimate each task will take and divide it by their hourly rate. Often, you’ll get a project rate plus an hourly rate for anything not within the job scope.

Fees as a Percentage of Construction

You'll spend anywhere between 1% and 5% of the total structural cost, or 16% to 20% of the design fee for a structural engineer. The range depends on whether it's a new construction or remodel and the work scope. For simple plans, expect to pay on the low end. For complete project management services, you'll spend more.

  • New construction: 1%–5% of total construction costs; new home builds cost $110,000–$450,000, with $1,100–$18,000 going to the engineer

  • Commercial: 0.5%–2.5% of total construction costs for new construction

  • Home remodels: 8%–10% of the structural cost, with home renovation costs ranging from $20,000–$75,000 and $1,500–$7,500 going to the engineer

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Residential Structural Inspection and Report Costs

You’ll usually pay for a structural engineer inspection cost to inspect a portion of your home and generate a report on how sound it is. It’s commonly done before a remodel, after significant damage, or before putting in an addition. Engineers include reports as part of the total project cost, detailing what you need to do to make alterations, additions, or renovations structurally sound.

Structural Inspection TypeAverage Cost Range
Full home$350 – $1,000
Foundation$300 – $800
Load-bearing walls$300 – $1,000
Roof$150 – $600
Chimney$200 – $500

Structural Engineer Home Inspection Cost

Structural engineer inspection costs around $350 to $1,000. Sometimes, they’ll charge a minimum fee plus their hourly rate. An engineering assessment checks the structural integrity of an aging home, usually during a home sale. This specialized pro usually comes in at the buyer’s request on the recommendation of a home inspector, and this fee comes on top of the home inspector cost, which is approximately $250 to $400.

Structural engineers check for:

  • Dry rot

  • Infestation

  • Shifting foundations

  • Erosion

They’ll inspect:

  • Load-bearing walls, joists, and beams

  • Roofing

  • Foundations

  • Chimneys

Foundation Inspection 

Foundation inspections by a structural engineer cost around $300 to $800. Actual pricing varies depending on the home size and type, the pro’s hourly rate, and regional prices.

Load-Bearing Walls

Inspecting load-bearing walls run from $300 to $1,000. If you include drawing up plans for changes, you might hit $3,000 or more. Some homeowners report prices nearing $5,000 in metropolitan areas like California and New York, which have both more building regulations and a higher cost of living.

Roof

A roof inspection by a structural engineer costs about $150 to $600. These aren't typical roof inspections. Instead, they're looking for the roof's structural integrity, not the shingles. This inspection often happens in older homes, those damaged in storms, or when a tree falls and damages some of the supports.

Chimney

Chimney separation inspections cost around $200 to $500 and includes three levels:

  • Level 1: visual check

  • Level 2: visual check with simple tools; no damage done to any surface or structure

  • Level 3: visual check with the removal of wall, bricks, or another structural component; typically occurs after a fire and requires rebuilding

Engineering Plan Costs

For most residential projects, engineering plans cost approximately $300 to $5,000 per drawing or sheet. Plans detail your project's structural components, giving your builder a schematic to use during construction. 

  • Commercial engineering plans cost around $1,000–$16,000 or more per sheet.

  • Prepare to devote 45% of your engineering budget to plans and drawings.

  • Plans take anywhere from three days to two weeks to complete, depending on the level of detail. 

  • Commercial projects take anywhere from one to four months.  

Draftsperson Drawings

Blueprints or plans cost $800 to $2,700 on average, with a draftsperson drawing up plans for a three-bedroom home within 15 to 40 hours. Double that price for redlining and customizations. Although rare, some people still want printed plans, which add anywhere from $800 to $1,400

There are four essential types of drawings:

  • Standard: These include common details that exist across a variety of projects and include things as concrete box culverts and column bases.

  • Reinforcement: These specify the location of the materials used to reinforce the structure and show the proposed locations of steel fixers and trimming bars.

  • Structural: These deal with the placement of concrete, rebar, and other materials used to reinforce the building.

  • Record: These keep track of any modifications made to the original plans.

A draftsperson typically works for a local architect or structural engineer and rarely makes plans on their own without oversight. In many cases, they'll need a stamp from an architect or engineer, which we'll discuss more in the next section. They can transfer existing plans into computer-aided design (CAD) blueprints and make modifications requested by an engineer. 

PE Stamp Cost

The cost to stamp work comes as part of a project. In most places, state law dictates that an engineer can only stamp work they’ve personally done or supervised the production of, such as with a draftsperson working under them. A professional engineer (PE) stamp means the engineer has helped design, review, and approve the plans. It also confers liability to them in case anything goes wrong.

Note: The practice of selling a stamp or stamping someone else’s work after only reviewing it is unethical and often illegal. Any stamp should come from an engineer who personally helped design the project. 

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Project Management Costs

Using a structural engineer as a project manager on larger projects can cost anywhere from 8% to 20% of the total structural construction cost. They’ll manage the project much the same as an architect or project manager, organizing the subcontractors, scheduling work, and dealing with the day-to-day operations. Typically, they’ll only manage a project they’ve designed or helped to redesign. 

Structural Engineer Costs Near You

Structural engineering costs vary by location and region. They’ll often be aware of regional-specific geology and environmental hazards—such as hurricanes in Florida or earthquakes in California—and the building codes and requirements that go along with those hazards.

U.S. CityAverage Price Range
San Francisco$500 – $2,100
Seattle$350 – $900
Denver$250 – $550
Minneapolis$380 – $650
Houston$350 – $600
Phoenix$600 – $1,700
Chicago$400 – $800
New Orleans$500 – $1,200
Miami $380 – $1,100
New York City$400 – $700
Boston$280 – $950

Structural Engineer Cost Factors

Every job is unique with specific plans for individual areas, each with its own nuances. Because of this, your structural engineer quote will vary depending on a few factors, which include the following:

  • Project complexity: Simple additions might be a few hundred dollars, while complex architectural feats in unique locales can run in the thousands. 

  • Scope of services offered: Plans and inspections fall on the low end, with new construction and project management making up the highest price. 

  • Experience: Newly graduated engineers might charge far less than a seasoned pro. 

  • Geographic region: You’ll pay different prices for structural plans in Florida than you would for one in New York.

DIY vs. Hire a Structural Engineer

You can’t DIY repair structural issues in most places. Many states require a licensed engineer or architect to sign off on any improvement plans that require changing structural elements to get a permit or move forward with construction. Contact a licensed residential structural engineer to get an inspection or have plans drawn up.

How to Hire a Licensed Structural Engineer

To hire a licensed structural engineer, follow these steps:

  • Read reviews to narrow down the right pro for your needs.

  • Ask for references from clients with previous jobs like yours. 

  • Contact your local city, county building officials, or county surveyor's office to verify their licenses.

  • Request they perform a site visit and submit a written proposal with objectives, the anticipated completion date, schedule, and compensation.

  • Get multiple quotes.

Note that while some contractors don’t charge for a preliminary visit, many do.

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FAQs

When should I hire a structural engineer?

You’ll want to consult a structural engineer if you’re making changes that include altering your home’s load-bearing properties. You should also hire a structural engineer if your architect, realtor, or local home inspector recommends it. You may want a structural engineer for any of the following projects:

  • Modifying a home in an earthquake, hurricane, or flood zone

  • Installing solar panels

  • Moving or modifying the locations of doors, windows, or skylights

  • Addressing the underpinnings of a floor or foundation

  • Adding a second or third floor

  • Repairing storm damage to your home from natural disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, or flooding

Do I need an architect, home inspector, or structural engineer?

You'll need to choose whether you need an architect, home inspector, or structural engineer, depending on what you need.

  • Architects cost around $2,000–$9,500 and work to design the form and function of a home, including all structural elements.

  • Structural engineers run around $300–$700 or more and work on a home's load-bearing and functional aspects.

  • Home inspectors charge around $250–$400 and give homes a general inspection during real estate sales, after natural disasters, and sometimes during appraisals.

What can I expect when an engineer visits my house?

During a site visit, residential structural engineers near you inspect the foundation, infrastructure, curtain wall, insulation, and building envelope. Through careful inspection and comparison to the approved building plans, the pro ensures the actual building meets the drawings provided or advises corrections. They must approve the completion of each stage, often required before the next development phase can begin.

How much does a structural engineer make?

A structural engineer makes approximately $55,000 to $125,000 per year or around $25 to $65 per hour.

What’s the difference between a structural, civil, and mechanical engineer?

Structural and mechanical engineering are both subdisciplines of civil engineering.

  • Structural engineers specialize in loads and forces put on structures and often work in residential and commercial settings to create load-bearing structures like walls, foundations, and bridges.

  • Civil engineers work on infrastructure projects in both public and private settings. These include roadways, sewage systems, bridges, and tunnels. 

  • Mechanical engineers design and maintain power production and power using systems such as generators, engines, turbines, refrigeration systems, escalators, and elevators.