How Much Does a Structural Engineer Cost?

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated April 13, 2022
An engineer writing on a notepad
Photo: Valmedia/Adobe Stock

A structural engineer costs an average of $3,000, though small projects range between $350 and $700

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Whether you're breaking ground on a new home or just spotted a suspicious crack in your foundation, hiring a structural engineer can provide some much-needed peace of mind. With an average cost of $3,000, a structural engineer will cost between 1 and 20% of your overall project budget. Simple inspections cost about $500, while smaller projects range between $350 and $700. This guide breaks down the costs to hire a structural engineer.

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

First, let’s cover what a structural engineer does. Licensed structural engineers offer a highly trained eye to vouch for the stability of your home and the safety of any potential changes. They can get to the root of everything from sloping floors, to a leaky basement, or even replacing an old chimney. 

These trained professionals often work hand-in-hand with general contractors, draftspeople, and foundation repair companies to assess upcoming alterations or potential damage. 

You may need to hire a structural engineer for:

  • New construction

  • Additions or structural changes

  • Selling or buying a home

  • Repairing a foundation or structural issue in your floors, walls, roof, or chimney

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer by the Hour?

Hiring a structural engineer ranges between $100 and $200 per hour. The total number of hours they’ll need to work depends on the complexity of the inspection, the number of site visits, and extra services like drawing up engineering plans.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer Near You?

The national average for structural engineer costs is $500, but where you live can make a big difference. Your region plays a role in a handful of ways:

  • Building regulations (permits, fees, and inspection requirements)

  • Foundation and type of home

  • Cost of living

  • Common structural issues in your region

For example,  it will cost more to hire a structural engineer if you live in a high-priced area such as San Francisco. Older homes in Maine with basement foundations more prone to structural damage may cost more than a basic repair for a slab-on-ground foundation in Florida.

What Structural Engineer Services Can I Get on My Budget?

Here’s what you can expect to pay for a structural engineer based on the following budget ranges:

$200 to $700

This price range is ideal for:

  • Foundation inspection

  • Load-bearing wall inspection

  • Chimney inspection

  • Roof inspection

  • Basic repairs

  • Engineering plans for a small-scale project

$700 to $1,500

This price range is ideal for:

  • Full-home inspections

  • Mid-sized engineering plans

  • Remodels and mid-sized additions

$1,500+

This price range is ideal for:

  • Large-scale home remodels

  • New construction

  • Project management

  • Large home repairs

How Much Does It Cost to Perform a Structural Inspection Yourself?

Depending on where you live, taking on the role of a structural engineer may not legally be an option. State regulations often require inspections by a licensed professional for major home renovations or new construction.

If you detect a small structural problem with your foundation, walls, floors, or roof, start by speaking with a foundation repair team. You may be able to fix small cosmetic issues on your own with epoxy foam if your pro tells you the cracks are nothing to worry about.

Structural Engineer Cost Breakdown

After you find the right local engineer for your project, you should receive a structural engineer's cost estimate. The engineering cost analysis breaks down what you can expect to pay. 

Here are a few key ranges to know:

  • Inspection costs and report: $200–$750

  • Price per hour: $100–$200

  • Price per square foot: $0.25–$2 

  • Engineering design costs: $800–$3,000

  • New Construction: 1–4% of construction costs

  • Renovations: 8–20% of renovation costs

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Structural Engineer by Type of Work?

Structural engineers step in whenever the stability of a home is in question, even if it's just for peace of mind or to avoid future problems. Worried about a crack in the wall that looks longer than it did last week? A structural engineer has your back.

Call a professional for:

  • Home inspections when selling your home

  • Investigating possible issues with your foundation, beams, load-bearing walls, or chimneys

  • Breaking ground on a new home or structure on your property

  • Renovating an old part of your home that could threaten any structural integrity

Structural engineers provide inspections and plans. Here's a look at the costs of those two options:

Structural Engineer Inspection Costs

In this stage of the process, expect to spend between $350 and $700 for an inspection and a report. Some structural engineers charge a flat fee for services including home sale inspections or will add a base fee to an hourly rate to look over your contractor's proposed plans.

  • Foundation: $300–$600

  • Load-Bearing Walls: $100–$200 hourly

  • Chimney: $200–$500

  • Roof: $200–$600

  • Full Home: $300–$750 or more

Structural Engineer Plans Cost

Here's where some of the larger costs kick in. Expect to pay 45% of your engineering budget for full structural engineering plans. Depending on whether you're tweaking a load-bearing beam or adding a small office space to the den, expect anywhere between $300 to $2,500 for the cost of drawings.

How Much Does a Structural Engineer Cost by the Style of Your Home?

While less common, you may be quoted structural engineering costs per square foot. Prices typically range between $0.25 and $2 per square foot.

In most scenarios, you'll receive a per-hour rate to cover all aspects of the job. For example, some homes are simply more prone to issues, leading to more extensive inspections, reports, or plan fees. Important factors include:

  • Home age

  • Type of foundation and structural supports

  • Regional prices

  • Local weather patterns

You can also think of it this way: all the little things that make your home unique are also the things that play a role in caring for its structural integrity.

FAQs

Looking at house plans
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Why should I hire a structural engineer?

A structural engineer makes sure your foundations, floors, walls, and framing can hold the required weights, so you can be safe in your home. Your home inspector, foundation repair team, or contractor can likely tell you when you need to call a structural engineer. You can also reach out to one when:

  • You suspect foundation or structural problems in your home (cracks, leaks, uneven floors)

  • You're renovating or adding a new section onto your home

  • You're building a new home or structure on your property

How do I hire a structural engineer?

There's nothing more important than feeling comfortable with your renovation team, the engineer included. You can go online to collect names of local structural engineers, read their reviews, and create a list of three engineers to give you a quote.

They should give you a detailed outline of the project that includes:

  • Price breakdown

  • Schedule

  • Expected services

What other projects should I do at the same time?

The right structural engineer can be your partner in exciting home renovations. If you've always dreamed of adding a spiral staircase to your foyer, this is the professional to call.

They can also help you tackle maintenance projects, like erosion in your yard, leaking walls in the basement, or a slightly askew chimney.

A structural engineer has the mastery to greenlight your upcoming project, help you buy your dream home, and catch small issues long before they become bigger problem.

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