When do you need a structural engineer vs. a foundation repair specialist? What can a structural engineer do that a foundation repair guy can’t? Vice versa: What can a foundation repair contractor do that a structural engineer would be unable to do?
What IS the difference between these two types of professionals and when do I need which one or the other??
At Anchor Foundation Repair, we ARE foundation repair specialists and also understand the role structural engineers can serve to meet homeowner needs at the right times. After 35+ years in the Brazos Valley community, we recognize that there are times when homeowners need to bring in the appropriate professionals to handle their home issues.
This article will discuss the differences between structural engineers and foundation repair specialists via pros and cons. We will also suggest the best times to use which professional for your foundation concerns.
Difference Between Engineers vs. Foundation Repair Guys
People need structural engineers for certain things and foundation repair guys for other things. It’s not a competition, it’s using the right person for the job at hand. One is not more or less qualified, they are simply qualified to do different types of work.
Structural Engineer Roles and Requirements
Structural engineering is a specialty within the field of civil engineering. The Structural Engineers Association of California explains structural engineers really well in this article by saying, “A structural engineer analyzes the gravity support and lateral force resistance of buildings, bridges, and other structures.”
We are in Texas BTW, but we will give props to these California engineers for their good explanation.
Structural engineers must meet their state’s college education and work experience requirements as well as obtain a license by exam. These engineers evaluate and calculate situations from a mathematical perspective. They ensure that the forces of nature acting upon a structure will work in the theoretical world.
Structural engineers are also adept at taking measurements, determining elevations and angles, and documenting the condition of a structure through detailed reports. They can then use established engineering principles and acceptable ranges to evaluate structures of all kinds.
Foundation Repair Specialist Roles and Requirements
A foundation repair specialist specializes in . . . *surprise* . . . repairs. So they are going to know the best ways to correct foundation settlement issues with real-world fixes. If your foundation is having problems due to soil movement and you want it fixed, foundation repair specialists are your guys.
Foundation repair contractors are experts in dealing with a particular force of nature – expansive clay soil and the damage it causes. Rather than working in mathematics and theoretical calculations, foundation repair specialists are the feet on the ground using practical applications.
There is no specific required training to become a foundation repair specialist in the State of Texas. A background in engineering or construction can be very helpful but is not required. They rely more on day-to-day experience, company-provided on-the-job training, and a practical understanding of the way things work.
Woah . . . the daily quota of hyphens may have just been reached right there.
Pros and Cons of Structural Engineers
In the next sections, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of working with structural engineers vs. foundation repair specialists as well as when it’s better to call one or the other.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons for structural engineers:
PRO: Are very knowledgeable of the way homes are built and the forces that act upon them
PRO: Have years of schooling and are certified and licensed to practice their craft
PRO: Can document a home’s condition with precision and detail
CON: Only have technical knowledge and not practical experience repairing a settled home
CON: Often use engineering jargon and complex terminology that confuses homeowners
CON: Usually work more with larger commercial structures rather than residential homes
When You Need a Structural Engineer for Foundation Issues
Sometimes, it’s better to call in a structural engineer for certain kinds of foundation problems.
- If the home is already on a complicated engineered slab, then it could make sense to involve an engineer in the evaluation process.
- If the home is newer and there has been no time for foundation settlement to develop other (possibly faulty) construction issues may be at work on the structure that needs the eye and documentation of an engineer.
- If the structure is 3+ stories tall or a large commercial property, a structural engineer is going to be more equipped to calculate and plan for the needs of those buildings.
We also have another article on when it might be useful to bring in a structural engineer for either documentation or monitoring purposes. They can also help to impartially confirm or rule out foundation issues if you want an unbiased opinion. Check out the Top Reasons to Hire a Structural Engineer for Your Home’s Foundation for more details.
Pros and Cons of Foundation Repair Specialists
Now we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of working with foundation repair specialists and when it’s better to call one.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons for foundation repair specialists:
PRO: Extensive knowledge of how to complete repairs to a home foundation
PRO: Years of on-the-job training and experience
PRO: Use everyday language that’s easy for homeowners to understand
CON: Not certified or licensed as engineers, no required qualifications
CON: Plans focus on repair goals rather than documenting home conditions
CON: Might be sweaty and dirty
When It’s Best to Call a Foundation Repair Contractor
I left out one pro when I was listing the pros and cons of using a foundation repair specialist and it’s this:
PRO: Will actually repair your home
It’s best to call a foundation repair contractor when you’re sick and tired of the troubling or annoying signs of foundation issues disrupting your daily life. We know that homeowners really worry when they have foundation problems.
You don’t know what to do or who to trust. Not only are you concerned about your home’s safety and stability, but you’re also worried about choosing the right contractor to take care of your largest investment.
Anchor Foundation Repair has been in the community for 35+ years. We’ve evaluated and repaired thousands of homes for Brazos Valley homeowners who want the very best care for their foundation.
The first step in getting a foundation repaired is to get a foundation inspection. Here’s an article that will help you know if you’re really ready to take this step. Learn how to tell if your slab has the issues that warrant an inspection for repairs.