Ashburn, VA

How much does a structural engineer cost?

$350 – $900 house inspection and report cost
$500 – $3,000 engineering design plans and drawings
$100 – $220 cost per hour

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March 15, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 4 expert structural engineers on HomeGuide.

Residential structural engineer costs

Hiring a structural engineer costs $350 to $800 on average or $100 to $220 per hour. Structural engineer fees are 1% to 5% of the total construction cost. A structural engineer inspection costs $300 to $900. Structural engineers charge $500 to $3,000 for residential home plans or drawings.

Structural engineer costs
Fee type Average cost
House inspection and report $350 – $900
Engineering design plans and drawings $500 – $3,000
Hourly rate $100 – $220
Per square foot $0.50 – $2.00
Percentage of construction cost (new house) 1% – 3%
Percentage of construction cost (addition or remodel) 1% – 5%
Percentage of construction cost (commercial) 0.5% – 2.5%

Cost to hire a structural engineer

The following table shows the average cost of hiring a structural engineer.

Average cost to hire a structural engineer
Average cost to hire a structural engineer

Average structural engineer fees
National average cost $540
Minimum cost $200
Maximum cost $3,000
Average cost range $350 to $800

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Typical structural engineering fees

Structural engineering fees are charged as an hourly rate, flat fee, or percentage of construction costs, depending on the scope of work, site visits, drawings, and reports.

  • Home and foundation inspections are charged at a flat fee, with any additional time billed hourly.
  • Consultations are charged by the hour.
  • Home renovations and new house construction are charged as a percentage of the total construction budget. The structural engineer's fee is typically included in the architect's fee.
  • Drawings and building plans have a flat fee or are charged at an hourly rate.
  • Project management is charged as a percentage of the total construction cost.

Engineering fees as a percentage of construction cost

Structural engineer fee percentages for residential projects are 1% to 5% of the total construction budget, depending on if it's a new house, extension, or renovation. Engineering fees for commercial construction projects are 0.5% to 2.5%.

Structural engineer fee percentage
Project Percentage fees Total cost for engineer
New house construction 1% – 3% $1,600 – $12,500
House remodel / renovation 1% – 5% $1,900 – $3,700
House addition / extension 1% – 5% $2,200 – $3,700
Commercial construction 0.5% – 2.5% $4,000 – $190,000+
  • Structural engineer costs for a new house are 1% to 3%. Building a new house costs $155,000 to $416,000, with $1,600 to $12,500 going to the engineer.
  • Structural engineer fees for a renovation are 1% to 5%. Home remodeling costs $19,800 to $73,200, with $1,900 to $3,700 going to the engineer.
  • Structural engineer fees for a home extension are 1% to 5%. Building a home addition costs $22,500 to $74,000, with $2,200 to $3,700 going to the engineer.

Structural engineer consultation cost per hour

A structural engineer costs $100 to $220 per hour on average, depending on experience, location, and project complexity. Most structural engineers charge a flat fee for inspections and an hourly rate for a consultation or anything outside the project's original scope.

Some structural engineers charge a higher rate for the first hour and a standard rate for each additional hour.

Structural engineer cost per square foot

Structural engineering costs $0.50 to $2.00 per square foot, depending on the project type, size, and complexity. Flat fees and hourly rates are more common than charging per square foot.

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Structural engineer inspection and report cost

A structural engineer inspection costs $150 to $1,000, depending on the type and purpose. After inspecting the home, foundation, roof, or chimney, the structural engineer provides a report detailing the findings.

Structural engineer inspection cost
Type Inspection and report cost
Full home inspection $350 – $900
Foundation inspection $300 – $750
Load-bearing walls & beam calculation $250 – $1,000
Roof inspection $150 – $600
Chimney inspection $200 – $600

Structural engineer inspecting home
Structural engineer inspecting home

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The engineer's report typically states:

  • If the home is structurally sound
  • If not, what repairs are needed to address the problem
  • A step-by-step plan for correcting the issue, if included in the fee

If the inspection is for new construction or a remodel, the report confirms whether the building contractor adhered to the design plans.

Contact local building officials or mortgage lenders to determine what information the engineer's report must include. Some situations require a more extensive inspection.

Structural engineer home inspection cost

A structural engineer home inspection costs $350 to $900 and takes 1.5 to 3 hours, depending on the home's size. During a house inspection, a structural engineer performs a visual inspection to confirm the building's structural integrity and then reports the findings.

A structural home inspection involves examining the home's load-bearing components, including the foundation, walls, beams, joists, columns, and posts. Engineers check for shifting foundations, erosion, dry rot, and infestations.

Structural engineer foundation inspection cost

A structural engineer foundation inspection costs $300 to $750, depending on the home size and type. A structural engineer performs a visual evaluation to confirm the foundation's structural integrity is safe and intact. Hire a structural engineer to inspect cracks, bowing, or foundation shifting.

Load-bearing walls and beam calculation cost

Structural engineers charge $250 to $1,000 for a load-bearing wall analysis or $3,000+ when including drawing beam calculation plans. Prices are higher in areas with more building regulations and a higher cost of living.

Structural engineer roof inspection cost

A structural engineer roof inspection costs $150 to $600, depending on the home's size, style, and location. If the inspection uncovers problems, the cost to repair a sagging roof with structural issues is $1,000 to $3,000.

Chimney inspection or breast removal

A chimney inspection costs $200 to $600 to identify structural issues. A Level 2 or 3 inspection is required if the chimney is leaning or has structural, fire, or weather damage. Chimney repair costs $2,000 to $4,000 to fix a leaning stack.

Removing a chimney breast wall typically requires an inspection from a structural engineer if the wall provides structural support. Removing the wall may require the addition of support beams.

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Engineering design plans fees

Structural engineering plans cost $500 to $3,000 for an average house design or remodel or up to $12,000 for a large construction project. The structural engineer's plan is typically included in the architectural firm's design fee.

Draftsperson structural drawings cost

Hiring a draftsperson costs $30 to $120 per hour to create structural drawings. Drafting house plans costs $700 to $1,500 for pre-drawn plans or $2,000 to $10,000 for custom house plans. A draftsperson creates technical drawings and new blueprints or transfers existing site plans into CAD blueprints.

PE engineering stamp cost

The PE engineer stamp cost is included in the architectural plan fee. A PE stamp indicates the design plans meet all code and safety standards. For legal and liability reasons, engineers typically won't stamp plans that weren't created by them or another engineer working under their direct supervision.

Civil engineer charges for plans

A civil engineer charges $100 to $200 per hour. Civil engineers design and maintain large structures, such as airports, roads, water systems, infrastructure, and public buildings.

Mechanical engineer cost

A mechanical engineer costs $100 to $200 per hour. Mechanical engineers design systems that generate, distribute, or use energy—such as engines, refrigeration, and air-conditioning systems—along with tools and technologies to meet transportation, health care, and production needs.

Frequently asked questions

What does a structural engineer do?

A structural engineer evaluates the home's structural integrity during the design and construction process, inspects existing homes for structural issues, and draws up plans to fix those issues.

  • Design – A structural engineer works with the architect and building contractor to confirm the home's structural elements can withstand forces like gravity, pressure from the surrounding earth, and severe weather.
  • Construction – Structural engineers review soil and site conditions to determine the best structural support and materials to incorporate into the building's design.
  • Renovation – A structural engineer evaluates remodeling design plans to ensure the changes will not harm the home's structural integrity.
  • Inspection – Structural engineers inspect existing homes, foundations, roofs, and retaining walls to identify structural issues that may cause a collapse, then create plans to correct the problem.

When to call and hire a structural engineer?

Hire a structural engineer for any project that may affect the home's structural integrity or stability, such as:

  • Buying a home
  • Home renovation or addition
  • Moving or removing walls or a chimney breast
  • Foundation cracks, upheaval, sinking, or bowing walls
  • Structural movement, including unusual settlement, cracks, or sloped floors
  • Drainage issues on your property
  • Structural damage from a storm, earthquake, or flood
  • Solar panel or solar water heater installation
  • Retaining wall problems

Do I need an architect, home inspector, or structural engineer?

An architect costs $100 to $250 per hour or $5,000 to $60,000 for a full house design. Architects and structural engineers often work together to design a home, but their responsibilities differ.

An architect designs the home's aesthetic, spatial, functional, and technical aspects. A structural engineer specializes in the home's strength, safety, durability, load-bearing elements, and structural integrity.

A home inspection costs $250 to $400. A home inspector evaluates the home's structure and electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems, typically for a real estate transaction.

How long does a structural engineer report take?

A structural engineer takes 1 to 10 days to deliver a report after inspecting, depending on if the inspection uncovered any problems. Structural home inspection reports for real estate transactions are typically delivered within 24 hours.

How much do structural engineers make?

Structural engineers make $55,000 to $110,000 per year, depending on experience and location.

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Getting free quotes and estimates from structural engineers

Before hiring a structural engineer and signing a contract, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates to compare.
  • Choose an engineer that is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the Institution of Structural Engineers(IStructE), or the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select an engineer that is insured, bonded, and has been in business for longer than five years.
  • Confirm the engineer is licensed in your state and has worked on projects similar to yours.
  • Avoid companies with the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and guarantee in writing.
  • Set a project budget and payment schedule. Avoid making large payments up front.

Questions to ask a structural engineer

  • Are you licensed and insured?
  • Are you familiar with the local code requirements?
  • How many projects have you completed that are similar to mine?
  • Are you a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE), or the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)?
  • How much do you charge for a structural inspection, and what does it include?
  • How long will the inspection take?
  • Do I need to be home during the inspection?
  • When will I receive the inspection report, and what details will it include?
  • What should I do if the inspection uncovers structural problems?
  • How much do you charge for engineering design plans?
  • Can you provide a cost estimate for my project?
  • Can you provide references?

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