When To Hire A Civil Engineer Over A Structural Engineer?

You will need a Civil Engineer, a Structural Engineer, or perhaps both when building a new house, remodeling an old home, or working on any other construction project.

Can structural engineers also be civil engineers is a common query that many of us have? One of the first engineering specializations, civil engineering is a broad area that includes several subspecialties. Despite being categorized as a branch or specialization of civil engineering, structural engineering has become so well-known and in demand that it is now seen as a distinct engineering field.

Many people are unaware of the distinctions between a civil engineer and a structural engineer. Both of these engineers first get a degree in civil engineering.

A structural engineer goes one step further by completing post-graduate coursework in structural engineering, a specialty that concentrates on the analysis of the materials used in the design, construction, and upkeep of man-made structures and studies how the materials and components interact with one another to provide a safe structure.

Civil engineers plan and oversee the construction of buildings such as homes, offices, and factories, as well as highways, airports, and other infrastructure. A structural engineer may carry out both tasks in designs, inspections, and certifications since they are first and mainly civil engineers. However, all you would need for the project’s practical implementation is a civil engineer.

Your project’s ultimate layout and aesthetic are mostly the concerns of your architect. Your contractor is concerned with completing the job as nearly as possible to the authorized construction plans and designs.

A Civil or Structural Engineer is required to provide an engineering design for the project and verify that it is appropriate and takes into consideration all building components between your architect and contractor.

Factors That Might be Used to Choose a Hire

The type of structure, the project’s location, and other needs for engineering project design and assessment will determine whether to hire a civil engineer instead of a structural engineer.

1. Structure Type

Your needs in selecting an engineer would depend on the project kind. For designs and plans for site grading, retaining walls, drainage and sewage, stormwater, and septic tanks, you would select the services of a civil engineer.

Structural engineers are, however, often needed for new custom houses, multi-family and condominium structures remodeled or extensions to existing structures, decks and patios, auxiliary dwelling units, ground-up commercial and mixed-use buildings, and new bespoke residences. Having a structural engineer is necessary for large infrastructure projects like bridges and dams.

2. The Project’s Position Geographically

Your project’s geographic location will dictate the responsibilities of your engineering design and execution requirements. The kind, size, usage, and location of your construction will determine the criteria, which will be outlined by state and municipal regulations. For a certain project, California could need a structural engineer, whereas other states might only need a civil engineer.

Laws or rules that either mandate or forbid the necessity for a structural engineer depend on the geography and climate of a particular place. Additionally, there are laws that outline which engineers are necessary for places close to the sea, rivers, and other waterways.

California is largely located in seismically active areas. For seismic retrofit and soft story retrofit projects, a structural engineer is necessary. Depending on the region your project will be implemented in, this need may be mandated, optional, or triggered (when a building is sold or undergoes a significant renovation).

Depending on the building official who has jurisdiction, some structures might not even require the services of both civil and structural engineers. Examples of these include agricultural buildings with wood frames and interior alterations or additions to a building that don’t affect the building’s safety.

3. Design and Assessment Criteria for Engineering Projects

For projects like traffic management, hydrological studies, erosion control, and subdivision, a civil engineer is all that is required for designs and plans. As for peer review, this will depend on what is required and may require either a civil or structural engineer.

Hiring a Civil Engineer would be a more sensible alternative for construction estimates, calculations, paperwork needs, building code research, and construction administration.

For existing structures that need the removal of load-bearing walls and on-site structural assessments, you will need the assistance of a structural engineer. Additionally, a structural engineer is needed for solar installation supports, HVAC installation supports, equipment anchoring and foundations, pool engineering, shoring design, foundation engineering, and structural calculations.

If you are interested in more articles like this, here’s one about the reasons to hire a residential structural engineer.

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