Commercial and Residential Structural Inspection

What is a structural inspection and what does it include? 

A structural inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and foundation of a house, from the attic to the foundation by a professional engineer. Structural inspections help buyers determine whether there are any major structural defects before they buy, and it minimizes any unpleasant surprises or significant financial burdens later on. A structural inspection consists of 3 phases.
Phase I. The first phase is a structural site visit where the Engineer visually inspects the structure and looks for structural inadequacies such as over spanned beams & joists and Movement such as settlement and slippage.  The Engineer will also determine the degree of structural concern from Typical with no recommended repair to Major with required repairs. If no repairs are required a letter will be generated so stating.
Phase II. If structural repairs are required, the second phase will be a detailed report & design that will bring the structure back into structural stability. The design will try and bring the structure back into its original alignment, but this is not always possible.

Phase III. The last phase is providing several site visits during the actual repair and then providing a final letter, with PE Stamp, stating that the repairs have been performed as recommended and that the structure is now structurally stable.

How much will is cost?

A structural inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing.  Similarly, within a given area, the inspection fee may vary depending on a number of factors, specifically the Engineer’s qualifications, such as a Masters Degree (Post Graduate) as well as the basic Baccalaureate Degree (4 year Degree), number of completed Structural Inspections, years in the profession concentrating on Residential Structures and Foundations, a Licensed General Contractor, and membership in the NSPE, National Society of Professional Engineers; ASCE, American Society of Civil Engineers; and other Home Inspection Associations, such as WVAHI, the West Virginia Association of Home Inspectors and ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors.  Also, being also a Certified Home Inspector provides additional perspective and experience.

One should not let the cost be a factor in deciding whether or not to have a structural home inspection or in the selection of your Structural  Engineer.  The sense of security and knowledge gained from an inspection is well worth the cost, and the lowest-priced inspection from a less experienced Engineer is not necessarily a bargain.  Use the recommendations from your Banker or Lending Institutions, City Engineer, Insurance Agent, Appraiser, Lawyer, Friends, and/or Realtor as a guide.

How can I check to verify that an engineer or architect is licensed?
Engineer: Visit  or Call  304-558-3554
Architect: Visit or Call  304-528-5825

Are the services of a registered professional engineer required for a single family residential structures? 

Single family residences do not normally require the design services of professional engineers except for some large custom-designed homes where the owner requests the services or the spans are too large for typical code-specified framing to work. Generally, the only times an engineer will become involved in a single family residence are as follows:

  • Where there is a problem with or failure of the foundation or framing of the house, such as storm damage, soil movements, settlement, foundation movement, significant cracking or unusual deflections and damages in the architectural finishes.
  • When an existing house is being sold or refinanced and the mortgage company is looking for someone to identify, analize, and describe the various structural movements and damages that have occurred within the structure and specifically the foundation, to determine if there is a structural concern or not, as well as provide some recommendations or design of what should be done to eliminate the problems, if required.
  • When the design of the house involves a structural system which is outside of typical structural framing and foundation systems specified in the residential building code or when the building code requires engineering services.