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Structural Engineers: Your Secret Superheroes When Bidding on a Home

Posted by Scott Zurn, P.E. on Dec 12, 2017 7:05:00 AM

 

When Denver house buyers are narrowing their search for the perfect home, they depend on the home inspector's report.

Yet few home inspectors are qualified to give more than cursory advice on foundations, the integrity of a home's structure or exterior elements like retaining walls. A home inspector may paint a rosy picture describing a flawless property.

The buyer, though, should be a bit skeptical and consider having a structural engineer in Denver examine that same "flawless" property.

 

Protecting Your Investment

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The relatively small cost of either the home inspector's or structural engineer's services can return to you many times over by protecting your investment in a new Denver home. The home inspector's work is essential, yes, but it is not complete. Home inspectors know a little about a lot of areas in a home; structural engineers know a lot about a few key parts of your prospective home:

  • Foundation walls
  • Support beams
  • Bearing walls
  • Drainage
  • Retaining walls
  • Emergency egress
  • Settlement and erosion
  • Earthquakes, landslides and wind uplift
  • Roof trusses and roof decks

By enlisting the aid of a structural engineer, you can avoid spending money on a Denver-area home that needs extensive work due to structural deficiencies.

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Seizing Opportunity

With the aid of a structural engineer in Denver, you can also be alerted to great house-buying opportunities, as some homeowners and real estate agents may price a property low because they think the house has a major problem. One typical example is an older home with poor "flow," where the removal of a particular wall could open up the interior, increasing its resale value.

Without a structural engineer, the homeowner and real estate agent may not know if the offending wall is load bearing. Their hesitation to improve the property may allow you to seize an opportunity to scoop up a bargain and transform it.

 

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Watch It!

While some structural engineers might know little about, say, a water heater's faulty relief valve, you need exactly the skills and experience of a structural engineer when you are touring a property and are unsure of issues like these:

  • Cracks in interior basement walls
  • Soggy ground near foundations
  • Splits in wooden joists and beams
  • Deflection in metal support beams and columns
  • Bulges in outside retaining walls

You are unlikely to be professionally qualified to even recognize the signs of a potential structural issue. That "bargain" home may obscure expensive repairs to every part, from the rooftop down to the footings.

 

Superhero

The best investors know how to play their hands at key moments. Having the services of a reliable, local structural engineer available at key moments in a real estate transaction can be almost as good as a superhero swooping in to save the day.

You and the sellers each get a home inspector's report, paid for by you. Some small note is in the report about a little drainage issue in one exterior corner of the house. You have offered a lowball price for the house that the seller has rejected. You casually mention that you would be happy to have your structural engineer take a "quick look" to follow up on the inspector's report, just to get "a second opinion."

The structural engineer may note the soggy ground but will zoom in on tell-tale hairline cracks in that corner's foundation in the basement. That leads to scrutiny of the ever-so-slightly askew support post for the house's main I-beam, which leads to...

You get the idea. Your structural engineer has uncovered a cascade of concerns that should help your home seller rethink that offer. All because you knew you could rely on the secret superhero of your home-buying transaction, your structural engineer.

To learn more about the services of a professional, reliable structural engineer in Denver and surrounding areas, contact us at Level Engineering and Inspection, or call our offices at (720) 408-0119. We may not wear capes, but we can be your superhero.

Topics: Buying a home, Real Estate, Structural Engineer, Structural Inspection

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