Structural Engineers Reports

At a glance...

  • There are two levels of engineers report you can have:
    • Specific Defect – this looks at the problem which has been highlighted
    • Whole Property Inspection – The structure is looked at throughout the whole property
  • Clear and definite recommendations
  • Approximate costings for all recommendations.
  • Engineers can also provide loading calculations, foundation design, roof structures etc.

Often Mortgage Lenders will stipulate who can complete these reports on their behalf and it’s vital that you have a professional who is both qualified and approved by the lender. Often, a Lender will require a chartered Engineer, such as members of the Institute of Structural Engineers, for example. Some Lenders approve Building Surveyors. If so, they will need to be Chartered Building Surveyors who are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (the RICS).

Whichever professional you appoint, you will need to ensure that they have good experience in the area they are asked to investigate coupled with good geographical knowledge, which can be important in understanding things like movement caused by ground conditions.

Look for qualifications after the professionals name. They should be M.I.Struct. E (Member of the Institute of Structural Engineers), MICE (Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers) or RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors – make sure they are chartered Building Surveyors). In addition to qualifications, you will need to be sure that the professional has experience in the area and type of work that you require.

Specialist Xpress has over 17 years experience of working with engineers and surveyors. It means that they know just the right professionals to carry out the work.

In all cases, Specialist Xpress will advise and appoint a professional who is just right for the task you want.

When a surveyor or valuer has raised a concern about structural movement, there are two main types of engineers report that mortgage lenders usually require.

i) Specific Defect Report

In this report, the engineer looks at the specific problems that first caused concern to the surveyor or valuer who mentioned them in their survey or valuation report.

For example, a common problem is movement cracking in external brickwork. The engineer will assess the cause of that cracking and look at enough of the property to form a view as to what is causing the movement and what repairs may be needed.

So, the report is focussed on getting you an answer to the specific problem and giving you a definite way forward so that you know what to do next and what the costs are likely to be. Often, the report is all the Lender needs for the mortgage application to move forwards.

ii) Whole Building Report

If you are concerned that there may be problems with the structure elsewhere in the property or want to know for sure that the building is structurally sound, you should instruct a Whole Building Report.

Here, the engineer will look at the visible structure of the whole building not just that area associated with a known problem. The report is an assessment of the soundness of the structure and whether it is performing properly.

Engineers and Chartered Building Surveyors can also provide a range of other services. These can include:

Structural calculations

These are used to size support structural members. (You may need these if carrying out significant alteration work or extending property. Structural calculations are usually required to accompany applications for planning approvals or building regulation approvals which involve structural alteration or support). Engineers usually form part of project teams for larger scale design and project management developments.

Design drawings

Can be for a range of structures and are most often produced on computer using CAD technologies. These include designs for foundations of properties; roof structures; supporting beams; retaining walls; drainage schemes; ground soil retention.

Load bearing capacity

Engineers are often asked to check the load bearing capacity of structures. For example, the capacity of floors to carry stored materials/heavy furniture or the capacity of roof structure to support solar panel systems.

Soil investigations usually referred to as ‘geotechnical services’.

These are performed to obtain information on the physical properties of soil or rock on a site. The findings of the investigation are used to design foundations or earth retention schemes for new developments or for repairs to existing structures which have been damaged or are at risk through subsoil movements. Additionally, A geotechnical investigation will often include check of the soil surface together with tests and sampling of the soil beneath a site. Samples are sent for laboratory testing.

Surface exploration of a site can involve geological mapping, geophysical methods, and photogrammetry, though an experienced professional will always want to visually assess the physical landscape first hand to check for factors that will affect the load bearing capacity of the subsoil or the performance of a structure built on it. Typical sampling tests include a Standard Penetration Test (SPT). This is an in-situ dynamic penetration test which also collects some disturbed soil for analysis and soil classification. A Dynamic Cone Penetrometer (DCP) is a test in which a weight is dropped on a cylinder/cone which penetrates the ground. The number of mm per hit are recorded which reveals certain soil properties.

In a Cone Penetration Test (CPT), a conical tipped instrument is pushed down into the soil hydraulically at a constant rate. Resistance at the tip of the instrument is measured together with shear resistance along the cylindrical barrel. This tells the engineer factors about the soil’s properties.

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