Difference Between Structural Inspection And Home Inspection

The purpose is the main distinction between a structural examination and a residential inspection. A house inspection is a broader evaluation of the building’s general condition as opposed to a structural examination, whose goal is to confirm the building’s ability to handle design loads.

Another significant distinction is that whereas a house inspection can be carried out by licensed home inspectors, structural inspections must be completed by a professional structural engineer. Both of these professionals must meet certain requirements for conduct and have the necessary training.

The fact that both structural and house inspections evaluate the home’s structural components makes them comparable despite their essential distinctions. Both can be started by potential buyers prior to buying a home, too.

What Is Structural Inspection?

A structural inspection seeks to determine the strength of a building. A structural engineer examines the home’s structural elements during this step to see whether they are sound and able to support the design loads.

The following aspects are often the inspection’s primary focus:


The home may sustain significant structural damage as a result of foundation problems, even though they are rarely visible to the untrained eye. When doing a structural examination, an engineer will always check to make sure the foundation isn’t heaving, settling, developing potentially dangerous fractures, or allowing water to enter.

Internal and External Walls

Although visible flaws in exterior (and, to a lesser extent, interior) walls are frequently unimportant, they can occasionally be a sign of more serious problems. Wide cracks, as well as those around door and window frames, could be the result of structural problems with the house. They could also be the result of settling or heaving in the foundation.

It’s crucial to get a professional engineer to do a structural assessment on a home’s walls to ensure that any fractures don’t indicate major structural problems.

Joists, Beams, and Studs

These important parts of a home’s structure are subject to rot and termite outbreaks. Both rot and termites can result in serious consequences, such as the breakdown or even collapse of impacted elements and irreparable structural damage. A neglected wet rot outbreak that resulted in a Berkeley balcony collapse and multiple fatalities can be easily remembered.

A structural inspection is a smart approach to stop these problems from getting worse to the point where they are unfixable or present an urgent danger to the residents of the home. A structural engineer would examine the home’s flooring, walls, and exposed structural elements for bulging, warping, or other indications of rot or termite damage during the inspection. Before you agree to the purchase of a new home, a structural assessment may inform you of these problems.


A qualified engineer can examine the structure of the roof to determine whether it can safely support the design loads, such as wind or snow loads. It should be noted that the structural assessment won’t consider the integrity of the roofing membrane and won’t inevitably detect a leaky roof.

What Situations Call for a Structural Inspection?

Although not required by law, structural inspections may be requested by lending institutions when making mortgage loans, particularly if the foundation of a modular home needs to be verified.

There are other circumstances in which requesting this service may be prudent. Consider requesting a structural inspection in the following situations:

Prior to Home Purchase

The last thing you want is to discover that your newly acquired dream home has an uneven foundation or is plagued by termites. Large repair expenditures associated with structural problems might be challenging to bear without going into debt or depleting a significant portion of your resources.

Fortunately, a quick home inspection can reveal any “hidden skeletons” in the house before you put your signature on the contract. It’s far better to shell out $800 for a structural examination and back out of a bad deal than to shell out $30,000 for foundation repairs.

Natural Disaster

It seems reasonable to engage an expert to look for any concealed damage if your home has recently weathered an earthquake, flood, or any other natural disaster. A structural engineer may be able to identify flaws that are not immediately apparent and suggest repairs to prevent further damage to the house.

If You Think There May Be Structural Issues

Requesting a structural examination is an efficient approach to identifying problems with your home’s foundation or other deficiencies before they become too serious about being fixed. If you see any of the following, think about consulting a structural engineer:

  • Water in the crawl space
  • Large gaps in the outer walls or foundation
  • Despite seasonal humidity variations, windows and doors are squeaking in their frames
  • Floorboards that are warped or feel soft underfoot
  • Unevenness is a clear indicator of the foundation.
  • Wall sagging or bending

What Is A Home Inspection?

A general home inspection looks beyond the construction to assess the overall health of the house. Similar to a structural examination, it could be carried out before buying a house to make sure the structure is overall in good shape.

An accredited home inspector will typically evaluate the following:

Structural Soundness

This is the point where structural and residential inspections converge. Even though a house inspection may cover more topics than a thorough structural examination, it nevertheless assesses the health of the home’s structural foundation.

A house inspector, for instance, will pay attention to evident flaws like wide cracks, warped flooring, bowing walls, and foundations that are plainly sinking or heaving. The engineer may suggest a structural inspection in their report if they discover evidence of these flaws during the general inspection.

Water Damage

A home’s structure, walls, flooring, ceilings, electrical wiring, heating and cooling systems, and other elements can all suffer serious harm from water. During a home inspection, the inspector will carefully check for symptoms of existing water damage as well as proof that water has entered a home.

Rooftop System Issues

A home inspection will assess the state of the entire roof assembly, unlike a structural examination, which tends to focus on the roofing structure. Possible flaws that the examination could find include:

  • Damaged shingles on the roof
  • The issue with the drains and eaves
  • Evidence of leaks
  • Flashing issues

Keep in mind that it’s preferable to avoid scheduling such checks for inclement weather. The inspector could be unable to find problems due to strong winds, intense rain, or snow accumulation on the roof.

State of Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Systems

To make sure that these systems are in good working order, a home inspector will evaluate the condition of the HVAC systems and ductwork, electrical wiring, and plumbing. By doing this, you can certify the property’s safety and warn potential buyers about upcoming renovations.

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