Do I Need an Architect if I Have a Structural Engineer?

Choosing the appropriate personnel for a building project can be challenging. Architects are responsible for developing places depending on the visual direction provided by their clients. Additionally, they adhere to design requirements based on codes and regulations. In contrast, structural engineers design large-scale projects, such as skyscrapers and bridges. Structural engineers are responsible for resolving complicated structural difficulties and adhering to structural design codes. This article will answer the issue, “Do I need an architect if I already have a structural engineer?”


Architects have licensed professionals with expertise in building materials, project management, and building design. To learn more about an architect’s role in home construction, see the article titled, What is an Architect’s Role in Home Construction? Architects design the visions of their clients using creative aspects. A significant portion of their work is dependent on the particulars of a project, but often aesthetic particulars. They utilize computer-aided design (CAD) to create their product. In addition, they offer aid with budgeting, total costs, milestones, and the timeline. Architects are hired to schedule client meetings, create estimates based on construction materials, and coordinate the employment of contractors. Typically, they are engaged alongside a civil engineer owing to design components, and they alter the plan based on the difficulties uncovered by civil or structural engineers.

Structural Engineers

Civil engineering is the field that encompasses structural engineering. Typically, civil engineers are needed to possess a doctorate degree and an additional license in addition to their professional engineering license. Structural engineers, like civil engineers, develop and inspect projects, but they also possess knowledge of structures and how they affect the built environment. Structural engineers are well-versed in the norms and codes required for building permits and the testing of building materials. Here is a list of project categories where structural engineers will be indispensable:

  • Destruction of a building
  • Climate/seasonal extremes at the site of the project
  • Reconstruction of ruined structures
  • Foundations
  • Solar panel installation
  • Multiple-family structures
  • Temporary support

Architect vs. Engineer

Architects and engineers approach the design of buildings differently. The objective of structural engineering is health and safety; hence the job has a specialized emphasis on durability and failure sites. They are able to test materials intended for use in buildings based on structural analysis programs and test results. Structural engineers are qualified to make construction material cost estimates, but architects also do so, with a greater emphasis on a building’s appearance. Both professionals are capable of developing a project’s budget and schedule. They both use CAD to create construction-ready building plans for use by contractors during the construction phase. While both have a role in ensuring that a project is well-planned and efficient for its intended purpose.

Do I Require The Services Of An Architect If I Have A Structural Engineer?

If you have already hired a structural engineer prior to employing an architect, you may not require one. Once a structural engineer has produced a design, hiring an architect will not significantly alter it. This is because structural engineers evaluate a design’s code compliance and safety. If the material used in the design is not cost-effective or aesthetically pleasing, it may be beneficial to hire an architect; nonetheless, structural engineers will still need to verify the material’s compatibility and ensure they will not cause the structure to fail. There is a relationship between the type of infrastructure being constructed and the requirement for a structural engineer, as any non-standard design features must be reviewed and authorized by an expert in that discipline. As the structural engineer has the last say on the approval of a design, they may, in some instances, be the only professional required.

Architectural Engineering

Some colleges offer architectural engineering programs. According to the Penn State College of Engineering, this field combines “practical and theoretical knowledge to the engineering design of buildings and building systems.” The objective is to combine the design and creative aspects of architecture with the formal and structural elements of engineering. Architectural engineers have expertise in building mechanical, electrical, and structural systems. Like other architects, they plan the construction process for a project as part of their management duties. Similar to structural engineering, safety is a component of their designs. Architectural engineers are architects with structural engineering knowledge. According to Data USA, there are approximately 4.5 million persons in the workforce with a degree in architectural engineering. This is equivalent to the number of structural engineers. Therefore this may be a comparable alternative for professionals.

Cost of Hiring

Additionally, evaluate the fees of the many professionals mentioned in the article. For the creation of building plans, architects can charge between $2,500 and $8,000. Additional services and adjustments to the plan will increase the price. For structural plans, structural engineers might charge between $800 and $3,000. For renovation and new building projects, a structural engineer might account for up to 20 percent of the entire project cost. Since architects and structural engineers are licensed professionals, their hourly rates will be equivalent to those of unlicensed engineers; hence architectural engineers will not cost as much as architects and structural engineers.

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