What is Structural Engineering?

What is Structural Engineering?

What is Structural Engineering?

Structural engineering is a specialism within the field of civil engineering. It focuses on the design, framework, and construction of buildings and structures to ensure their safety, durability, and functionality.

Structural engineering is required for the design and build of all types of structures from buildings to bridges and trusses to towers.

Sound structural engineering ensures that structures and buildings are entirely safe, stable, and able to withstand both day-to-day and unforeseen loads, pressures, and forces throughout their lifespan.

Why is structural engineering important?

Structural engineering is vitally important to the design and construction of buildings and structures. Without appropriate structural engineering, buildings are at risk of being unsafe, unstable, and unfit for purpose – in essence, the building may become damaged or even fall down.

Elements that may put pressure on a building include extreme weather such as earthquakes, wind, fluctuating temperatures, and snow; as well as gravity, the self-weight of the buildings and materials, and general wear and tear inflicted by people, vehicles, and the weather.

What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineering must be undertaken by a qualified structural engineer who applies engineering knowledge based upon physics, science, and mathematics to design and assess the strength and stability of the components of a structure based on their selected structural materials, e.g. steel, concrete and timber.

From establishing the pressures on a building to design for, structural engineers calculate the forces which the structural elements will experience, e.g. compression, tension and bending, and design these elements to be strong enough. They also consider the overall stability of the building, durability and serviceability.

Responsibilities of structural engineers include:

  • Load analysis to calculate and assess potential weight, pressures, and forces that the building will need to endure
  • Assessment and selection of the most appropriate type, quantity, and measurement of materials
  • Deciding on the building’s frame, working out the forces in the frame, and checking that the frame’s material can withstand those forces
  • Compliance with building codes and regulations and obtaining regulatory approvals
  • Inspections of works to ensure they meet safety standards
  • Assurance of stability, durability, and longevity
  • Energy efficiency considerations

Structural engineers work with architects, contractors, and the construction team to ensure that the completed construction has structural integrity and safety.

Do you need a structural engineer?

To meet legal building regulations, structural calculations are required from a qualified structural engineer.

New buildings, and many renovations and extensions to existing buildings, require a structural engineer to ensure that the construction is safe and compliant.

If a project involves any structural changes, it is prudent to consult with a structural engineer before any building works begin. A structural engineer can advise on your project and plans and help to ensure that it is safe and successful.

What factors should you consider before choosing a structural engineer?

When working with a structural engineering firm, it’s essential to consider several factors to ensure a successful partnership and project outcome.

Here are some key things to look out for:

Experience and Expertise: Assess the firm’s experience in handling projects similar to yours. Look for evidence of expertise in your specific type of construction.

Qualifications and Accreditation: Verify that the firm’s structural engineers are chartered or professionally accredited. The main ones being the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). This ensures that they have the necessary qualifications and adhere to industry standards and best practices.

Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are essential for a smooth project workflow. Ensure that the firm is responsive to your enquiries, listens to your needs and communicates clearly throughout the project lifecycle.

Technology and Tools: Enquire about the firm’s use of technology and tools for structural analysis, design, and project management. A forward thinking firm that embraces innovative technologies can enhance efficiency and accuracy in project delivery.

Compliance and Regulations: Verify that the firm is familiar with local building codes, regulations, and permitting processes. Compliance with regulatory requirements is crucial to avoid delays and ensure legal compliance throughout the project.

Client References and Testimonials: Request references from past clients or seek testimonials to get insights into the firm’s reputation and client satisfaction levels. Positive feedback from satisfied clients is a strong indicator of a reliable and trustworthy firm, and better still speak with them!

Commitment to Sustainability: Look for tangible evidence of this commitment, such as green building certifications, incorporation of energy efficient design solutions, and partnerships with organisations like Timber Development UK supporting efforts to create a sustainable timber supply chain, contributing to the goal of achieving a net zero industry.

If you have any future projects that we can assist with, please feel free to reach out to us or drop by anytime!

Why choose AWA Engineers

AWA is a structural engineering and civil engineering consultancy established in 1987, with a hard-won but deserved reputation for delivering excellence in our profession.

Our philosophy is simple: we put people first. This has resulted in a high number of repeat clients and an impressive track record of successful award-winning projects. We are proud to be professional, and approachable; we believe this makes us the ideal partner for your project.

AWA has chartered engineers in our offices located in Romsey, Hampshire and Bath, Somerset. We deliver services to clients across the South, South East and South West.

Our team includes both chartered structural engineers and chartered civil engineers committed to continuous professional development ensuring you benefit from up to date industry expertise, whatever your project entails.

Contact us today

To find out more about how AWA can help with your project, get in touch today. Call 01794 524447 (Romsey) or 01225 251498 (Bath)  to speak to a member of our team. Alternatively, email and one of the team will be in touch.

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