When to Enlist the Professional Help of a Civil Engineer

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Civil Engineer

Civil Engineer? What’s that? In today’s unstable economy, many homeowners are trying to increase the value of their home while trying to save money. This often leads to them taking on a number of DIY projects themselves, trying to remove their need for hiring professional help. However, what they don’t realize is, for certain home improvements and additions to the home, a professional engineer is a requirement.

A lot of local agencies and some federal and state agencies will require detailed plans for any projects you’re undertaking, and these can only be completed by a professional with a license. Unfortunately, a lot of homeowners don’t realize they need to do this until their project’s already underway or they find they’re unable to handle certain problems after they’ve started.

There are a number of ways civil engineering firms can offer homeowners experience and knowledge with their home improvements. We’ll take a look at some of these below:

Creating Plans and Permits

To determine utility locations, easements, and property improvements, you may require a plot plan. An engineer can produce this for you, along with a drainage analysis and construction staking.

Constructing New Homes and Renovating Old Ones

Planning and designing a renovation project or new home isn’t easy, but that’s where a qualified engineer can help. From start to finish, they can be on hand to provide you with their experience and knowledge, which can prove invaluable when you’re renovating old structures or building new ones.

Understanding Sewer and Septic Projects

A whole host of different septic disposal systems that are being used on-site can be designed by civil engineers. Furthermore, as specific standards are in place with the local governing health departments, it’s important you know what you’re doing in this area. As a civil engineer will know about these, they can make sure the renovated or new sewer project is based on these guidelines.

Preparing Drainage

Whether you’re solving an isolated drainage problem, you’re redesigning an existing drainage system or you’re designing a new one, you’ll need to know what options are available to you. A civil engineer can conduct an in-depth investigation to find out what your best options are, which will help solve the existing problem you may have or prevent one from happening in the future.

Retaining Walls and Landscaping

There are specific requirements that many local agencies have put in place when it comes to landscaping and retaining walls. Some of these requirements may include how high a retaining wall needs to be, or where plants and trees need to placed when you’re landscaping your garden. For homeowners, civil engineers can provide invaluable knowledge that will make sure you’re not violating any of the regulations or codes that have been put in place.

Conducting Structural Assessments and Inspections

Sometimes, your home may require a structural assessment or inspection, and because an engineer has been approved to carry these out, they can provide you with certified assessments and inspections. This provides you with recommendations and reports you can use, which can save you a lot of time and money.

Overseeing Projects

Even though you may want to project manage your home improvements, having a civil engineer on-site can help to take away a lot of the stress and worry. Overseeing the project, they can provide you with advice from start to finish, identifying where things may need changing to adhere to rules and regulations.

Researching Building Projects

Because civil engineers are constantly working on a whole host of projects in a variety of areas, they know the zoning ordinances and building codes within your local area. Therefore, they can provide you with plenty of detailed information that will make sure your project complies with these rules and the correct procedures are being followed at all times.

Permitting Applications

There are so many processes and forms involved in permitting, which can become very overwhelming if you’re doing them by yourself. However, assistance can be provided by your civil engineer as they’re incredibly familiar with all of the processes that are involved. They can also represent you at any meetings you may have to attend, answering any questions about the home improvements while also making sure everyone understands what the project is going to involve.

So, if you’re planning any home improvements in the future, it’s definitely worth considering hiring a civil engineer who can assess your project before you start. With their guidance and expertise, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and stress throughout the entire building process.



Harrison Thorpe is a retired civil engineer who enjoys sharing his knowledge by writing articles, not yet being quite ready to hang up his tape measure!!

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