What does 'Structural Engineer' mean when buying a property?

Find out what Structural Engineer means when you are buying a property. 'What does Structural Engineer mean?' plus over 150 other property related terms and jargon in plain English

Structural Engineer

A structural engineer is often bought in when the structural integrity of a property is in question.

This is rare but it usually happens after survey when the surveyor reports that he suspects there may be an issue with the building such as subsidence, slip or heave.

Note structural issues will be reported in all surveys so the term Structural Survey is a little but misleading. If a surveyor is carrying out a Valuation Survey they will also report structural issues because these have a fundamental effect on the property value.

Surveyors are not qualified to know for sure if there are issues but they are qualified to spot tell tale signs. The Structural Engineer will either confirm or dismiss these.

Depending on the extent of the issue (is it the whole property or just one part of it) a structural engineer will cost anything from a couple of hundred pounds all the way up to around the £1,000 mark.

The cost can be negotiated with the vendor although some might refuse. Personally I pay for the structural engineer with an agreement that if there is a major issue with the property the vendor will purchase the report from me. I'll use a structural engineer that the vendor's insurance company would accept, this way if an insurance claim needs to be made the vendor needs my report anyway.

They will conclude one of three ways:

  1. Yes there is an issue with the property
  2. No, the property is stable (the tell tale signs are historical from movement in the distant past.
  3. Not sure - the building needs to be monitored, potentially over several months, to assess the issue.

If its the last conclusion that usually leaves the deal dead in the water unless you know what you are doing, you can confirm the property is fully insured, your mortgage lender is willing to go ahead and you are ready to take a punt!

Actual confirmed issues are easier to deal with as costs can then be calculated and a position negotiated with the vendor.

To find out the smart way to deal with situations involving structural engineers when you are buying a property pick up a copy of my ebook How to Really Buy a Property.

Search Results for 'structural' in
How to Really Buy a Property

"... work to minimise the time between offer agreed and exchange; Making sense of a property survey including; What type of survey to get and why structural surveys can be money wasted; Why surveyors should never estimate the cost of works; When rising damp, penetrating damp, subsidence,..."

"... auction. They are properties that no lender will accept a mortgage application on and this might be because: They are structurally unsound and no insurance company will cover them They have no inside bathroom The lease is extremely short (see below) They have no kitchen -..."
"... Changes to the Property: Many people confuse Share of Freehold with total freedom! Someone who owns a share of freehold is still a leaseholder and must get the permission of the "freeholder" before making any substantial or structural changes to their property. This means agreement from all those in the building who have a percentage stake in the freehold company. As such staying friendly with your neighbours is far more important in a share of freehold situation than if you are a leaseholder! Once again any agreed changes must be spelt out either in a new lease or in a deed of..."

"... aware of the results (see above). You can go into more detail by requesting a homebuyers survey or a structural survey. If you are applying for a mortgage it usually makes sense for the surveyor who is doing the valuation to also carry out the second survey. A homebuyers survey is the usual..."
"... homebuyers survey is the usual choice for those buying a flat. It looks at any defects on the property such as the windows, flooring, plumbing, damp and, if there is access, the roof. A structural survey is usually chosen by those purchasing a house as it includes everything in the homebuyers report as well as an inspection of the..."
"... is extremely important to know that the surveyor is qualified to spot tell-tale signs but cannot actually or absolutely state that something is wrong. He may say, for example, that "the windows are in need of refurbishment and that a qualified contractor should assess the cost" or "there appear to be signs that the property is subsiding to the rear and a qualified structural engineer should survey the property to assess the extent of any..."
"... the tiling, flashings, parapets, rafters and chimney stacks. Structure - a structural engineer to make sure that there is no movement in the building beyond the normal amount expected and that none of the walls are bulging. Drainage - a specialist company that can place CCTV probes in the..."
"... you nor the vendor can agree who will pay for a specific specialist to check the property. As an example the property may need a structural engineer to assess it. The vendor argues that you should pay for it because it will be a document useful to you when you come to sell (the vendor nearly always assumes the situation is ridiculous and their property cannot possibly be structurally unsound). You argue the vendor should pay because you have already spent money on the survey and it is up to the vendor to prove his property is stable. Both parties have justifiable arguments but it doesn't help the process move..."
"... will still want to have the same piece of mind. Guarantees - these are the actual guarantees that have been specified in the Seller's Questionnaire. Common items that may be covered by guarantees are the roof, damp proofing, structural work, etc. Planning Consents - these are only required if..."
"... Regulation Approval - again these are only required if the vendor or some previous owner made changes to the property that are deemed to be structural and so should be inspected by the local borough's Building Control department. These can include changes that have been made inside the property and so did not require planning consent. An example could be where two rooms have been made into one and the wall that was removed was a structural part of the..."
"... guarantees he has concerning work that has been carried out on the property Copies of planning consent or building regulation approval if structural changes or additions have been made to the property Leasehold only: Who the managing agents are and who the freeholder is Share of..."

"... works; Why retentions don't suggest the cost of repairs; The difference between rising damp and penetrating damp; How to check more than a structural survey covers and pay less; Why a sagging roof may not be a real issue; How to handle subsidence, movement and bulging walls; When to use a..."
"... can say different things about the same property Types of Survey - There are three types of survey: The Valuation The Homebuyers The structural - The Valuation Survey - This is crucial as if the surveyor does not agree with your offer price the bank won't lend. It is also the..."
"... that 'in it's current condition the property is worth x' and x is the price agreed then there are no grounds for negotiation. - The structural Survey - For older houses these are generally seen as a must have by almost anyone who has written on the subject but again you need to take a..."
"... older houses these are generally seen as a must have by almost anyone who has written on the subject but again you need to take a view. If there is something structurally wrong with the property a valuation survey will pick that up. Its most important feature is probably that it will be useful when you come to sell the property as you can show it to a potential buyer under the guise, "When I bought this house X, Y and Z were wrong. I had them all fixed and here are the guarantees or receipts." (See Chapter 22: Why Vendors are Poorly Prepared..."
"... from this the actual value of a structural survey is questionable. The surveyor is not a specialist in any particular field so the report is filled with vague statements such as "The windows appear in need of replacement and should be inspected by a specialist" or "The roof may be bowing and should be inspected by a specialist." More on this is covered in the section What is in a Survey..."
"... in the section What is in a Survey (below). Remember it is not possible to have a structural survey done on a flat as it requires access to all parts of the building and unless the neighbours are all very understanding it is not going to happen. Requesting structural surveys on flats..."
"... neighbours are all very understanding it is not going to happen. Requesting structural surveys on flats generally annoys the vendor who knows they can probably sell to someone else a little less awkward or a little less naive. - Retentions in a Survey - If the surveyor, carrying out any..."
"... retention can be a small amount or the total price agreed (usually in the case of suspected subsidence or other major structural issues). The best way to deal with them is as described in the remainder of this chapter. Take them in your stride, in most cases the issue is much smaller than the surveyor believes and retentions are removed after investigation of the..."
"... surveyor is not a qualified plumber and will not be carrying out the work so should not quote. The surveyor is not a structural engineer and will not be carrying out the work so should not quote. True Story - Damp at Packington Street Sarah and Nicki had successfully offered on a two..."
"... the surveyor is simply someone who is trained to see tell tale signs that then require you to get a further specialist in. If you want to be thorough and save time then get a valuation survey and at the same time pay for a roofer, plumber, electrician and damp specialist to inspect the property (for freehold properties pay a structural engineer as well). You will short-cut the long survey report and you will know the absolute worst case scenario as each specialist going in will be hunting for work. Then you can take a proper quantified..."
"... Story - The Tree at St Paul's StreetDiane was very keen to purchase a three storey Georgian House in Islington. She offered to pay a little less than the £525,000 being asked and the vendor accepted. Her survey, however, questioned how stable the property was due to a tree situated in the pavement directly outside the front door. The vendor having had no issues when he purchased the property three years earlier refused to pay for a structural engineer to examine the building...."
"... property. Diane ended up buying a two bedroom flat with a roof terrace as by this time the price of houses had gone beyond her budget. Ultimately the £800 required to get a structural Engineer in and show the surveyor was overreacting would have been money extremely well spent. " - Types..."

"... done on a property before selling. In the case of a Leasehold or Share of Freehold property, a homebuyers survey In the case of a Freehold property, a structural survey The reason smart vendors do this is two fold: They can address any problems which come up in the survey before..."
"... is especially useful with freehold properties where the surveyor may question how structurally sound the property is. In this instance if there is a problem the vendor can get the opinion of a structural engineer long before your surveyor even steps through the door. A structural engineer is more highly qualified than a surveyor in these matters so the green light here will most certainly not be questioned by your..."