Why You Should Speak To A Structural Engineer Before Buying A Property

Home Inspections With A Structural Engineer

Start with a Structural Engineer to evaluate a property before you buy. It could save you money in the long run. Image courtesy pixabay.com

Whether you’re buying a property as an investment opportunity or as a property you plan to use as a home or place of business, there’s always a lot to consider.

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Check comparable property values
  • Make sure you look at the crime statistics.
  • Check on the quality of the schools in the area. This can tell you a lot about the neighborhood.
  • Find out about any HOA dues, taxes and insurance costs.
  • Talk to the sellers about their experience with the property.
  • Schedule an inspection.

When you schedule the inspection, make sure you contact a specialist to look over each major part of the property. It’s a good idea to hire an electrician to check out the wiring, a plumber to review the pipes, and a structural engineer to look for any structural issues.

You should still hire a property inspector.  Although many of them are not specialists in any particular field, they often identify issues that require a specialist.

Recently we were asked to be a part of a show on HGTV where a husband and wife real estate agency decided to start buying houses in cash with the intent of flipping them (the clip starts at 7:20 minutes, below). The home we were asked to look at had severe foundation issues. There was a lot of movement, and the cracks were so large that there was no structural integrity left in the foundation. It was probably one of the worst cases we’d ever seen. As a result, their team incurred the high cost of removing the foundation slab and replacing it to bring it up to sellable standards.

If they’d hired a structural engineer prior to purchase, they may have decided not to proceed with their plans on that particular home.

As part of our engineering services, we provide assistance during real estate transactions. Helfrich-Associates is often asked to conduct property and structural integrity inspections. Once our site and structure inspection has been completed, we work with the buyers and explain to them any potential problems that we uncovered during our review of the property.

When there are site or building structural issues that need attention, we’ll advise our clients as to whether or not the cost to mitigate these issues would generally result in a good or a poor investment. Regardless of whether or not we feel the property should be purchased, we’ll always provide the potential buyer a full review of our findings and the pros and cons of the state of the property and any structures located at the site.

We’ll also research to find out whether the previous owner had any prior knowledge of the issue in question. In addition to helping remediate the problem, we’ll provide an estimate to our client on the repairs required to bring the property up to usable condition.

We encourage you to contact us if you need assistance during your real estate transactions. We can help you make an informed decision, ensuring your property becomes a positive investment for years to come.  Many times if we discover problems, the cost of repair can be used to negotiate a fair purchase price.

Do you have any stories to tell about the inspection and disclosure process? Tell us all about it in the comments, below.

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  1. I can see how it would be good to have a structural engineer when it comes to considering a home. I would want to know if there were any problems with a home or building I am considering. I don’t know anything about structural engineering, so getting a professional would be a must.

  2. I never would have thought to hire a structural engineer to inspect the property of a home that I was potentially going to buy. After seeing that they can identify possible problems with the overall structure of a home, I see why they could be a huge help in this process. I’ll be sure to find one and set up an appointment with one to come out and check out the home that I’m looking at.

  3. I have to agree that is probably a good idea to get a plumber, electrician, and structural engineer to look at a house before buying it. However, because most people can’t afford to do this on every house they look at, I think it would probably be a good idea to hire a specialist only after the regular home inspector tells you there might be a problem with something.

  4. It makes sense to talk to an engineer before buying a property. Like you said, there might be costly structural issues in a home, so you would want to avoid buying. I wouldn’t know how to see those myself, so an engineer would be great.

  5. I like that you mentioned how good structural inspectors will check previous owners history. This will give them even more idea of what has been going on with the building. The more knowledge you have the better you can inspect.

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