If you are starting to plan your home extension or renovation project, you might be wondering if you should hire a structural engineer or an architect. For most home extensions or renovation projects, you will usually require both an architect and a structural engineer.
Featured image from Will, architect in Brighton. See his full profile on Design for Me and shortlist him for your project here.
What does a structural engineer do?
Where an architect will usually provide the primary set of drawings for pricing and construction, a structural engineer’s drawings will compliment and add a layer of information to this package. Structural engineers are typically required for the following projects, but as a general rule they will be needed whenever structural changes to the house are proposed.
- Renovations that involve removing, modifying or adding any structural elements of the house (walls, floors, roof, chimney stack)
- Loft conversions / extensions
- New build houses
- Where proposals require the foundations to be under-pinned
There are very few occasions where you would need to appoint a structural engineer alone. However, if the design aspect of the project is minimal, and the overall project is minor in scope, the following situations might allow for a structural engineer, but not an architect to be appointed.
- Removing or knocking through an existing wall
- Making an existing opening larger
- Fitting solar panels
- Chimney breast removal
- A contractor led design and build project. They will usually have an in-house architect, but may require that you engage a structural engineer directly.
Be aware that with the above works, you will require Building Control approval. Speak to your structural engineer and builder about who will submit the Building Regulations application for you.
Who should I hire first – the architect or structural engineer?
The architect is typically the lead consultant in a residential building project and would be engaged first, before any other consultants. Your architect will have the experience to advise which design consultants are required and will usually have a list of trusted contacts.
Finding the right architect for your extension
As well as being founder of Design for Me, I am also a qualified architect. I found that many homeowners search online to find well established or high-end practices (it makes sense – these companies have bigger marketing budgets with stylish websites). However, such practices are often too busy, too expensive and, in fact, often less experienced in dealing with small residential projects on ‘normal’ budgets.
So I wanted to create this platform for those design professionals I know who are suitable, experienced and eager to take on domestic projects like yours. They are often small practices or freelancers. The problem was that, before Design for Me, they were very difficult to find. All you need to do is tell us a bit about your project.
- Quickly see who’s interested in your job.
- Create a shortlist.
- Invite up to three for a no-obligation consultation.
Emily Design for Me