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  • What does a structural engineer actually do?
    As structural engineers, we focus on designing buildings to withstand forces that the structure will experience throughout its lifetime, such as snow loads and occupancy loads, as well as wind and seismic loads. We ultimately take the general building layout, usually as floor plans, and create framing and foundation plans sometimes referred to as blueprints. In these drawings, we provide specifications for the materials to be used, framing sizing and layout, and corresponding construction details illustrating how to build the structure. We ultimately provide drawings and corresponding calculations to be used to obtain a building permit which are also used to construct the building.
  • Do engineers design the layout of the building such as the windows and rooms?
    No, our expertise is not focused in the spatial planning or aesthetics of a building. We typically are brought on the project after the building layout has been defined by an architect or designer. It is also beneficial to bring a structural engineer in during the planning phase of a project, especially in remodels and additions, to help consult on the feasibility of the desired modifications.
  • Do I really need a structural engineer?
    A structural engineer is not always required for every project. Small standard projects, typically of new construction, can follow the prescriptive requirements defined by the local building code. These prescriptive measures usually do not allow for particularly custom designs, such as large glass openings across a wall. These jobs will still require construction documents for permitting and construction which requires knowledge of these codes. Without detailed engineered drawings, it may not be clear what you will receive after the construction process, and sometimes if the code requirements are not followed, it can lead to failed inspections causing both monetary and timeline delays during construction. Ultimately, we provide value to the project in the form of efficient design that will save the project both time and money, typically in excess of our design fees.
  • Are structural engineers licensed and insured?
    Yes, our licensure requires degrees in engineering from ABET accredited universities as well as passing multiple rigorous national examinations. There is also an experience requirement on top of education which must be met, and only then is one eligible for Professional Engineering Licensure. We also carry professional liability insurance on all our projects.
  • Are the drawings and calculations we provide all that is needed to obtain a building permit?
    This depends on the type of project being performed. For new construction or remodels/additions, you will also need a site plan showing the building relative to the property lines as well as the floor plan which specifies interior wall dimensions and window/door specifications. The building department in your jurisdiction should have a check sheet available, listing what is required for the specific permit.
  • Who is responsible for submitting all of the required documents for obtaining the permit?
    We do not submit for permit. We provide our documents to the client and the client then fills out permit applications and submits our provided structural package as well as any other additional required documents to the building department.
  • Do you provide home inspections for things like foundation or drywall cracking?
    We do not provide home inspections. Our focus is strictly in the design of the buildings and the construction administration of our design. We are happy to perform site visits as required to see our builds through construction, but we do not provide services that solely include inspections.
  • Are you able to analyze the suitability of my soil for building?
    We do not provide soil reports. A Geotechnical Engineer specializes in soils.
  • Do you provide options or alternates on beam types?
    We size our beams and framing members for the most efficient size. We can provide multiple options if a specific aesthetic is desired.
  • Are you open to using unconventional building materials such as SIPs, hempcrete, straw bales, rammed earth, etc.?
    We are certainly open to working with more sustainable materials!
  • After the design is complete, will we still be involved in the project?
    We take pride in seeing our projects through a successful build. If construction administration is needed, we are happy to provide it and perform site visits as required to resolve any onsite issues.
  • Is a site visit to my property always required?
    A site visit is not always required, but is common for remodels/additions. We will specify in the pre-design phase how many site visits are needed, and we are happy to come out as requested by the client.
  • Can you sign off on some drawings or plans I purchased online?
    We can certainly design the framing for plans purchased online. These plans are typically mostly architectural design - focusing on the floor plan layout and provide little to no framing or foundation plans. If there are any structural components called out, they are often not sized for the wide range of snow loads we experience in the PNW. However, we can certainly use the online plans to design our structural drawings based on the online plans design.
Frequently Asked Questions
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