How to find a residential structural engineer?

Old 06-01-18, 04:42 PM
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How to find a residential structural engineer?

I feel like I'm going nuts, here.

I bought a bunch of land, pretty far out of the way. I want to build a home- but the town, reasonably enough, wants blueprints before they'll issue a permit.

I've gone to at least a dozen people trying to convert my idea for a floor plan into blueprints.
At least ten of them are perfectly happy to help- if I sign a contract saying that the blueprints belong to them, and ONLY THEIR COMPANY can build the house.

Well, I want to build it myself. I'm happy to subcontract jobs I can't handle- that's way outside the scope of this thread.

The last two I talked to were happy to work with me to make a blueprint, but they're all artsy folks. They're way more interested in how the building will look than how it's put together, or how energy efficient it will be. I had to drop one guy because he won't design any home where he doesn't get to dictate the visual details- right down to the color and type of siding used.

I don't care what siding is used- but it won't be what that guy wants. Up in these parts, it's not uncommon to see houses wrapped in tyvek for five years before the owners get around to siding- that's my kind of project.

So- is it just me, or do most of these engineers work for companies that also build?

Before anyone tries to talk me into paying a company to build the whole thing, I've got two things to say- 1) no, 2) it costs too much. They'd want to finance it, then they can't hand over the project until it's 100% done- meaning they're going to finish that house right down to the paint on the walls before I can take over... at which point I'd need to gut the place for six months before I could start doing it my own way.
Old 06-02-18, 04:38 AM
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You did not say what people you were contacting to do your drawings. Are you contacting house plan companies, architects, professional Engineers? In much of the United States you don't need an architect or Engineer to draft house plans if you use traditional construction methods. If you use engineered lumber or steel beams then most jurisdictions will require an Engineer's signature for those sections.
Old 06-02-18, 04:57 AM
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There are thousands of stock plans out there are any of those close to what you want? Find one close and then ask the local building department if you can make some modifications. Structure is primarily what they want to see.

Now, for the long project you describe, that has its own issues. Will you be financing this through a bank at any point? Banks often want a house to start and be finished in a short period of time and thus require a builder with a proven history. They don't like the possibility of owning a half built house, not offense but it does happen.

Building permits can have a time limit on them as well and may not allow one to live there until a certificate of occupancy is issued.

An insurance company can also have requirements and may not want to provide coverage on a half built home.

Not sure what climate you are in but you mention energy efficiency so if a cold climate heating an unfinished home is difficult and can cause damage. Best to get it framed up and dried out asap so heat and electricity can be used.

Well, septic, temporary electric, landscaping, and more can keep you busy. In the old days a family could install a basement, cap it, and live there while the house above was being finished. Not often allowed now.


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