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So how in the heck do I find a structural engineer?

So how in the heck do I find a structural engineer?


  #1  
Old 12-21-06, 06:22 PM
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So how in the heck do I find a structural engineer?

I want to add a second floor addition to my 1939 Cape Cod. I would like to do the majority of the design work, and consult an engineer to make sure 1) it's possible to add the new floor 2) what I have designed is safe/to code.

The problem is, I've had a hard time finding a "structural engineer." It seems every time I do any searching/calling via the internet, I always end up with architects, which are far more expensive than I care do deal with.

Specifically, I live in Arlington, VA. So any listings, professional pages etc would be very much appreciated.
 
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Old 12-22-06, 08:06 AM
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Most architectural firms have a structural engineer on staff. That is why when you call you get an architectural firm. Perhaps you can find a structural engineer consultant. Your local building code/inspector office should be able to give you some names in your area.

Chi Associates, CHD Associates, Failure Analysis Associates, HNTB Corporation, Jacobs Engineering, Leroy T. Graveatte, and Seal Engineering are among those listed in Arlington as structural engineer consultants. Go to http://www.vaeng.com/engineering-consultants/structural/ for contact info.
 
  #3  
Old 12-23-06, 12:07 AM
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http://www.thebluebook.com/

Here are a variety;
http://www.thebluebook.com/wsnsa.dll/WService=wsbrk1/viewpg.htm?docsstart=0&ncls=1750&bkid=2&cache=S

http://www.thebluebook.com/wsnsa.dll/WService=wsbrk1/smartidx.htm?collection=%2Fwa&srch=keyword&keyword=civil+engineers&image2.x=37&image2.y=16
 
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Old 12-28-06, 09:30 AM
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Don't want to burst your bubble, but a competent structural engineer is probably going to cost you as much as an architect...count on at least $100-$200 per hour in northern VA, maybe more.
 
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Old 12-28-06, 09:32 AM
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If you already have your plans and structural engineer is not in your budget, your local building inspector should be able to assist you. You will need to have the plans approved before Building Permit is issued.
 
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Old 12-28-06, 04:10 PM
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Thanks for all the responses...

I'm fairly sure I can draw plans myself (as I did for my deck). And I'm fairly confident I can interpret the building code well enough to ensure what I design is to code.

What I really need though, is someone to tell me for sure that my foundation/footers can support the new load - I assume this is a job best suited to a structural engineer? Would a building inspector really be willing to do help me here?

What other opions are available? I'm trying to minimize my costs as much as possible, but I don't want to sacrifice safty.
 
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Old 12-28-06, 05:10 PM
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A visit with the building inspector will reveal what is expected from you in preparing for approval of your plans. If he can not help with the assessment re: "foundation/footers can support the new load," he will be able to tell you who to call. He will also tell you what is required re: permits and inspections.
 
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Old 12-28-06, 09:40 PM
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The building department will only advise you about a standard 1story foundation. Anything beyond that will require a wet stamp from a civil/structural engineer.
 
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Old 12-29-06, 04:44 AM
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Eleventh: You have been given good advice by our members. Now, it is time for you to go and get yourself a structural engineer or architect. Your trying to get something for free which costs money. Your permit people or inspectors will know this the minute you ask them the question. I am a structural engineer, and I even pay another engineer to check my work. Cutting corners on cost by not having it engineered properly is a very bac way to start out. This is a very costly job your looking at. You going to have to have an engineer look at your house and the foundation to see if this is even possible. Good Luck and have a good day. Twelve gave you some leads in your area. It is now time for you to hit the phone.
 
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Old 12-29-06, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Jack the Contractor View Post
Eleventh: You have been given good advice by our members. Now, it is time for you to go and get yourself a structural engineer or architect. Your trying to get something for free which costs money. Your permit people or inspectors will know this the minute you ask them the question. I am a structural engineer, and I even pay another engineer to check my work. Cutting corners on cost by not having it engineered properly is a very bac way to start out. This is a very costly job your looking at. You going to have to have an engineer look at your house and the foundation to see if this is even possible. Good Luck and have a good day. Twelve gave you some leads in your area. It is now time for you to hit the phone.
Thank you again for all the responses - they've been very helpful.

I can see where you're coming from Jack, but with all respect, I am certainly not trying to get something for free that costs money. I am trying to avoid paying for something that I don't need/want. Namely, architectural services. For example, one firm I called wanted to literally furnish me with plans that were detailed "down to each floor tile." As I said above, I am not willing to sacrifice safety, but I don't feel I need a full-up architect to help me with layout etc.

I've started calling firms, however unfortunately all so far deal exclusively in commercial work. I haven't made it through the entire list yet, however. Would an engineer be willing to stamp some one else's plans (mine), or am I wasting my time with this approach? If an engineer would not be willing to do so (something frankly, I can said I'd blame him/her for) and insists on creating their own set, what is the difference between a structural engineer and an architect?
 
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Old 12-29-06, 08:04 AM
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Finding a structural engineer

You've probably done this already, but do you have any friends or acquaintances that are architects or contractors that can refer to to an engineer?

Just as illustration, this happened to me. I'm building a simple garage (not as involved as your project). I spoke to an architect who going to charge me around $800 just for the initial review and elevation drawings. There would be extra costs for the plans. She also said she would need to talk to a structural engineer anyway about the foundation walls.

We had moved in only a few months earlier and I found out one of my neighbors was an architect. I told him about my project and asked if he did freelance work. He asked if I knew what I wanted my garage to look like. I said yes and he said, "you don't need an architect, you need a structural engineer", and he gave me the name and number of guy (in Northern Kentucky) who does this kind of work. The guy charged me $400 total for footer, foundation and framing plans with which I got my permits. I now have concrete in the ground and framing on top.

Sorry this doesn't help with NVA. I used to live there and with all the buiding going on people in the industry are very busy and expensive. But ask around. You might get lucky.
 
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Old 12-29-06, 08:48 AM
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So how in the heck do I find a structural engineer?

Eleventh -

A few ways to find an engineer.

Look for a small structural engineering firm (one man preferably).

If you cannot find that, try to find a small architect and see who does his work. An architect is not qualified to sign structural, so he has to hire one.

Call a local lumber yard and get the name of a structural engineer that does residential work.

Dick
 
  #13  
Old 12-29-06, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by eleventh View Post
What I really need though, is someone to tell me for sure that my foundation/footers can support the new load - I assume this is a job best suited to a structural engineer? Would a building inspector really be willing to do help me here?

What other opions are available? I'm trying to minimize my costs as much as possible, but I don't want to sacrifice safty.
You have no other options but to get an Architect or Engineer in there to look at it. You even said so yourself that you think that the job is best suited for an Engineer.

You obviously have money set aside to do the job and it makes sense to watch your costs but trying to save money as far as seeing if your foundation can handle the second floor is not a place to save money. Whatever it costs, it costs. Save money somewhere else and do the right thing and just call an Architect or Engineer.
 
  #14  
Old 12-29-06, 05:28 PM
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A structural engineer is what is required for this situation. Although engineers will stamp drawings prepared by others, they will have to perform all of the calculations and check the drawings carefully, so they will earn their money and you will save little by doing the drawings yourself. The drawings you prepare will help the engineer better understand what you want.
The structural engineer will do more then prepare drawings, the engineer will also calculate all of the reactions and moments for the structure. One reason it can cost a lot is because the liability insurance needed to cover the engineer's professional liability is not cheap.

A good source for structural engineers doing sidework is a local university. If you have a college with a Civil Engineering department nearby check out their website and find a PE with registration in Civil. Most engineering professors moonlight.

I am an engineer and my most recent project involved plans drawn up by me and sealed by another engineer. It is always good practice to have someone else check your work.
 
 

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