When a Homeowner Should Hire a Civil Engineer

25 May 2016
 Categories: Construction & Contractors, Blog


A civil engineer is not someone that you might think of hiring when you're ready to do any type of remodeling or renovation work on your home. However, civil engineers can offer a wide variety of services that can greatly benefit any homeowner and ensure their work is done safely, and that their home will be structurally sound. Note when a homeowner would do well to hire a civil engineer and why their services can be so important during certain projects.

1. Septic and sewer lines

If your plans will affect any sewer lines or outside plumbing pipes, or involve installing or removing a septic system, you want to consult with a civil engineer. He or she can ensure that your plans will not put undue pressure on buried pipes or a septic tank and that slope of the property takes into account the slope of pipes that is needed to keep them flowing properly.

2. Additions and weight

Even if you're just thinking of adding a sunroom onto the back of the house, remember any addition puts weight on the walls and foundation of the home. A civil engineer can note if you need to underpin the foundation or add more load-bearing walls or beams to those areas of the home to keep it structurally sound. This is especially important for adding another story above the home, for adding heavy flooring or other such material, or any project that means significant weight is going to be added.

A civil engineer should also be consulted if your plans will somehow take away structural support of your home. For example, if you want to have an exposed ceiling, you might be considering removing beams overhead. If you want to change the footprint of the home entirely, you might inadvertently remove a load-bearing wall or otherwise compromise the home's structural integrity. Never remove any major framing materials without consulting with a structural engineer so you know the home's strength won't be compromised.

3. Changing slope

If you want to change the slope of your property such as by adding or removing hills, you need to consult with a civil engineer to ensure that you are not affecting its overall drainage. Too much slope can mean soil erosion and, in turn, very dry soil that doesn't allow for vegetation growth. You might also need a retainer wall to hold back the slope of your property so that it doesn't suffer small landslides or mudslides, which can cause damage to your home and its foundation.