Whether you are about to enter into a remodel project or ready to get started on new construction, a structural engineer is going to be an integral part of this process. Structural issues in a home will put a halt on any of the dreams that you had for your real estate. Structural engineers have a different fee structure than an architect and home inspectors. In our guide showcasing how much a structural engineer costs, we will help you estimate your total project costs and understand the importance of a structural engineer in the process.
What Is A Structural Engineer?
A structural engineer will help to determine the structural integrity of any construction project that is about to take place. In addition, structural engineers know how to look for structural damage, can understand building regulations, and will ensure that the building plans will be functional when all is said and done.
A professional engineer will give everyone working on the project peace of mind that the end result will be a positive one. Structural engineers can help homeowners with everything from foundation or chimney repair to brand-new construction.
Residential Structural Engineer Costs
With the cost and scope of work of a residential project not being quite as involved as a commercial project, the fees are typically a bit different. Of course, your rates will vary depending on the number of site visits, extra consultations, and the reputation of the individual you choose. However, here are some of the average costs that you can expect.
|Fee Type||Cost or %|
|Per Square Foot of Foundation||$.25-$2.25|
|Home Inspections (full-house, roof, foundation, etc)||$350-$1050|
|Engineering design & plans||$250-$5000|
|Percentage of Construction Cost (new – residential)||1-5%|
|Percentage of Construction Cost (remodel – residential)||8%-10%|
|Percentage of Construction Cost (commercial)||.5%-2.5%|
Average Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer
The average cost to hire a structural engineer is between $500 and $1,500. However, depending on the size of the project and whether it is a home renovation or a new build, the national average for pricing can go up.
When hiring a structural engineer, you can usually get a free quote. Most will also break the payment plan up into several parts. Typically there is 25% due at the start, a payment in the middle, and then a final payment when all is said and done.
The cost of a structural engineer can go up during the project. Many structural engineers charge for extra hours that they spend at the property, as opposed to just a flat fee.
Structural Engineer Hourly Cost
The hourly rates for a structural engineer range from around $100 to more than $300 per hour. Most of the time, the entire cost of structural engineering services will be provided to you as a lump sum number, then there could be a caveat that explains extra hours will be billed within this price range. Most structural engineers near you will not work purely on an hourly basis.
Cost per Square Foot for a Structural Engineer
Most structural engineers that charge per square foot pricing are working on commercial projects. Home remodels and new home construction is typically not large enough to cover the entire cost of the structural engineer in a square foot pricing model. If you do find the per square foot pricing, expect it to be anywhere from $.50 to $2.50 per square foot.
Structural Engineering Fees as Percentage of Construction Cost
Whether you are putting a home addition on or building new, a common way for structural engineers to charge is a percentage of the construction costs. Expect this percentage to be considerably higher for a remodel than for a new build.
New build structural engineer inspection costs are between 1 and 5%. The average cost to build a $2,000 sq ft home in America is around $300,000. At 2.5% of the total construction cost, you would pay your structural engineer $7,500.
For a remodel, the costs are close to 10% for the structural engineer. As you well know, cost estimates for a remodel are considerably lower, and the engineer’s design may be a bit more complicated with previous issues with dry rot or joists that are out of place, so the fees here are higher because of the complexity of the project.
Structural Engineer Inspection and Report Costs
A structural engineer inspection and a structural engineer report are different than a traditional home inspection and will therefore have unique costs. Here are some of the inspection and reporting costs that you can expect during your project.
|Structural Inspection Costs||$400 to $1,200|
|Foundation Inspection||$400 to $1,500|
|Load Bearing Walls, and Beams Inspection||$500 to $1,000|
|Chimney Inspection||$200 to $600|
|Roof Inspection||$300 to $700|
Structural Inspection Cost
The average structural engineer inspection costs will be anywhere from $400 to $1,200. Some structural inspectors will charge a base fee for the report but then have an hourly rate should they run into any additional issues. The structural inspection is often used as part of a real estate closing to ensure that the findings from a home inspector are correct. The structural inspection costs will include looking for things like shifting foundations or erosion issues.
Structural inspection costs are typically looked at as a complete fee for inspecting various structural elements. However, there are times when just a single area, like a foundation, needs inspection. For foundation inspections, you can expect between $400 and $1,500; this will change if there is severe damage.
Load Bearing Walls and Beam Inspection
The load-bearing wall inspection or beam inspection will be under $1,000 for most residential projects. However, if you are looking for plans to be drawn up with options for new structural supports, you will pay more than $4,000 in most situations. Building codes can significantly impact how much you pay for your project as they require a much more detail-oriented and knowledgeable structural engineer.
Another unique skill of the structural engineer is chimney inspection. The chimney inspection will usually be one of the lowest priced, and it ranges from around $200 to close to $600.
A roof inspection will be between $300 and $700. The pitch of your roof and the location of your project are going to impact the overall costs of the roof inspection. It’s important to remember that a roof inspection looking for a potential leak or a missing shingle is much different than a structural engineer roof inspection. These engineers look to determine the structural integrity of your roof.
Structural Report Cost
The structural report is needed to determine the next steps for all involved parties in your construction project. Structural report costs will vary depending on those that are involved in the process and the local guidelines and regulations in your area.
|Structural Engineering Plan Costs||$400 to $5,000 per drawing sheet|
|Draftsperson Costs||$800 to $3,000|
|PE Stamp||Varies, up to $500|
|Project Manage Design Costs||8 to 20% of Project|
Structural Engineering Plan Costs
The engineering plans will be determined based on the number of sheets needed. The plan’s project and the structural components can impact this cost considerably. The structural engineering firm typically charges between $400 and $5,000 per drawing. The builder will need these plans in order to continue with the project, and they are typically the most expensive part of working with a structural engineer. Commercial pricing for engineering plans will be even higher.
The draftsperson who puts the plans for the project on paper will typically cost around $1,500 on an average residential project. However, these prices can range from $800 to $3,000. There are higher fees for those that make edits and changes to any drafts. With a draftsperson needing final approval and a PE Stamp from the structural engineer, there are typically added fees that go into this pricing structure.
PE Stamp Cost
The PE Stamp is a Professional Engineer Stamp. The stamp means that the structural engineer has their hands involved in the design, review, and even approval of the plans. Most states from New York to California require that the PE Stamp is on all work before it is approved. This helps ensure that there is a liability if there should be a significant issue with any of the projects. PE Stamps can be up to $500 depending on the engineer involved in the project.
Project Manager Design Costs
If you want to use a structural engineer as a project manager, you will need someone that specializes in civil engineering or mechanical engineering. This will cost you between 8 and 20% of the structural construction costs for the project. This is typically only done by a structural engineer that has been heavily involved in the design and buildout of the project.
How to Fit a Structural Engineer into Your Budget
Now that you have a better idea of how much structural engineering costs, you can see that it’s important to consider these costs before the start of your project. Fitting a structural engineer into your budget may be a bit more involved than you may think. This chart can help you see what you will get for your money and which type of project you may be able to afford.
We also recommend that you get more than one quote for the project you have in front of you. Additionally, talk to the structural engineering firm about the different payment plans and methods that they have. Explain that budget is a concern for you and try to find a plan that will work within your total project costs.
Structural Engineer (What To Expect For Your Budget)
|Less than $700||• Inspections (foundation, load bearing, roof, chimney etc.)|
• Engineering plans for basic repairs or small-scale projects
|$700 to $1,500||• Full home inspection|
• Plans for a mid-sized project
• Small remodels and additions
|$1,500+||• Large scale remodels|
• New construction
• More extensive home repairs
|$5,000+||• Commercial projects|
• Project management fees
Factors that Affect the Cost of a Structural Engineer
The cost of a structural engineer in your area will vary based on several features of your project. Here are a few of the things to keep in mind when estimating costs and comparing your quotes to cost guides like this one.
Difficulty of the Project
The more complex your project is, the more you can expect to pay. Think about the time that it will take a structural engineer to work on your project and realize that this is going to impact the total costs involved. Expect more difficult projects to be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars more.
Some structural engineers simply offer inspections and reports. Others are willing to offer complete project management. Depending on what you are asking of the structural engineer, the costs will be significantly impacted.
Experience and Reputation
When a structural engineer is new to the industry, they have to build up a reputation and will often charge lower fees for their first clients. Once they are more established, the fees can change and get considerably higher. There are also structural engineers known for more luxury-type builds and projects, and their fees are considerably higher.
Unfortunately, in areas like California, where the cost of living is higher, the costs for structural engineers will also be higher. This trend of a higher cost of living impacting costs will likely be seen throughout your entire construction process.
Structural Engineering Costs by Home Types
The type of home you have, and even the age can impact the costs of the structural engineer. In addition, in areas of the country where specific building codes are in place to account for weather or climate-related issues, structural engineering costs can increase. Older homes or historic homes can also have specific building codes and regulations that increase the total costs of a structural engineer.
DIY vs. Hiring a Structural Engineer
We are all for DIY-type projects wherever and whenever we can find them; however, structural engineering is likely something that you will have to leave to the professionals. Although it may seem as though it can save you thousands of dollars, you won’t be able to get the final approval you need without the help of a true structural engineer.
As we talked about, most local building codes will only work with a certified and insured structural engineer. Without these codes in place, structures in your area would not be deemed inhabitable.
Final Verdict: Is a Structural Engineer Worth the Cost?
A structural engineer is not only worth the cost, you likely won’t get out of having to pay a structural engineer at some point in your project. Whether you need an inspection or report or entire project management, chances are the structural engineer will be involved in your project somewhere along the way. Make sure to account for these extra costs and fees when you are doing your planning. Most homeowners will need a structural engineer for large-scale projects, remodels, and of course, a new construction build.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire a structural engineer?
A structural engineer can help with some of the following issues that you may be dealing with:
- Building a new home
- Addition to a home or structural change to a home
- Selling or buying a house
- Repairing a foundation
- Fixing load bearing walls or a chimney
How much should I pay for an engineer?
Most homeowners will pay between $400 and $1,500 for a structural engineer. The type of project and scope of work are going to have a significant impact on the total fees paid.
What can I expect a structural engineer to do?
A structural engineer will inspect the structural safety of your home or commercial project and then develop a plan to repair any issues you may encounter. Structural engineers will also be able to help with new construction and create a solid plan for a long-lasting, building code approved home.
Do structural engineers typically give estimates?
Some structural engineers will give estimates, but they are typically ballpark estimates. Not until the entire scope of work is determined can a structural engineer let you know the full costs. However, for a basic inspection and report, you will usually get a set rate.
Is it necessary to hire a structural engineer?
It is often necessary to hire a structural engineer when stability is part of the project or build. Anytime you are looking at load bearing walls or foundations, the structural engineer is almost always going to be part of your project costs.