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Why You Need a Structural Engineer

What Structural Engineers Provide

  • Expertise regarding the structural analysis and design of structures.
  • Determination of lateral forces, such as wind and seismic, on structures.
  • Selection of framing systems and recommendations for construction and economic feasibility.
  • Assessments of existing building vulnerabilities.  
  • Coordination and preparation of plans, calculations, specifications and reports.
  • Knowledge of common construction materials such as steel, concrete, wood and masonry.

When a Licensed Professional Engineer is Required

Your city or county Building and Safety Department, Department of Public Works, Planning Department, or municipal utility will be able to advise you about code requirements and what permits, plans, and maps are required, if any. These agencies can also inform you specifically when a professional engineer or professional land surveyor is required.

All civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering final plans, specifications, and reports must:

  • be prepared by a registered engineer or by a subordinate under his or her direction;
  • contain the engineer's signature and seal or stamp;
  • if multiple pages or sheets have been prepared, the signature and seal/stamp need only appear on the original plans and on the original title sheets.

Before you attempt to design or alter structures, prepare surveys, or hire an unregistered person to prepare your project, you may want to consider the following:

  • 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.
  • Responsible charge relates to the span or degree of control a professional engineer or professional land surveyor is required to maintain and to the decisions which can be made only by a professional engineer or professional land surveyor.
  • Contact your local city or county building officials and/or county surveyor's office. Local officials will be familiar with factors of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as the local environmental conditions in various areas of the state, such as snow loads, high winds, earthquake activity, or tidal action.