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What are Engineering Plans for Houses?

We have recently posted the following article in our articles section of our website, but this is common information requested from the sales representatives so here is the information again.


Engineering - What is it, and why is the city asking for it? These are questions that we get asked quite frequently here at The Plan Collection. So, since I have been designing homes for quite some time, and have some experience with the subject, I thought I'd write a thing or two here to clarify things for those wondering what this is all about and how it applies to home plans. I'll break this down into a few common questions so you can jump to the one question you're most concerned about.


What is structural engineering?

Structural engineering is the analysis of home plans or a building's proposed structure [or even existing at times] to verify that the framing members and the method of construction is sufficient to withstand local weather patterns, soil types, earth movements, wind speeds, etc. For example, the areas where homes receive significant amounts of snow in the winter will require a roof structure strong enough to hold the weight, while homes in areas that receive no snow, will not need that much support. Parts of the country that get high windspeeds, or are prone to hurricanes or tornadoes will likely have different construction requirements than areas that do not have these types of issues. Another situation that would require structural engineering is a home that is built on a steep incline that may be prone to mudslides, more than normal run-off, etc. Engineering is a professional service performed by qualified individuals who keep abreast of current trends, codes and regulations to assure that homes and other structures are built with structural integrity and sufficient for local conditions.


Isn't engineering part of home design?

No, engineering is not a part of home design. Home design is the creation of living space, whereas structural engineering is the analysis of the structure itself. Home designers and architects are well versed in the local codes and regulations and plans are drawn according to the building code, but the engineering of the structure is a separate service. Think of it in different terms. You may have your real estate agent write up a purchase contract for a home purchase or business lease, but to protect yourself you will likely consult with a lawyer to make sure the contract is sound.


Why is my city or municipality requiring me to submit home plans that are stamped by an engineer?

In recent years I have noticed that engineering [in our local area] is becoming a requirement by more and more cities than it used to be. The city is concerned that your home will be built sufficiently to support local conditions (soil, weather, etc.) and they naturally want the neighborhood to be a safe place to live.


I plan on ordering some home plans, is an engineer's stamp for my state included in the plans?

Engineering is not included in your home plans purchase. Structural engineering is a site-specific service and needs to be done by a local professional who understands your area. After purchasing your plans, you can take them to a local engineer who will make any necessary drawings or adjustments to the home plan to assure that it meets the requirements of the city.


What does engineering cost?

The cost will vary across the country. I would call your local home builders association for referrals and get prices from a few before deciding on which company to use. Or, if you are working with a Home Builder, ask him who he recommends.


If you have any other questions regarding structural engineering as it pertains to house plans, please contact us.


Footnote: The lead photo for this article is by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

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