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The Importance of Structural Engineering in Real Estate Transactions

Updated: Feb 8

Improperly Supported jack post
Improperly Supported jack post

In the dynamic world of real estate, structural concerns often emerge after appraisals and inspections. Homeowners and real estate agents grapple with issues ranging from settlement concerns, sagging and improperly supported main load bearing beams, to compromised foundations. This blog discusses the critical role of structural engineering consulting in resolving these issues and emphasizes the potential pitfalls of opting for contractors over a structural engineer firm.

It highlights the importance of involving a structural engineering company to ensure the integrity of a property.

1. Early Intervention Saves Costs:

• Contacting a professional engineer early in the process can save homeowners, sellers, or buyers time and more importantly, significant costs. Engineering solutions ensure compliance with minimum code standards, satisfying both appraisals and mortgage requirements. While some concerns could be addressed in a structural inspection and maybe a letter, others may require structural repairs or intervention. Most municipalities require engineered stamped drawings for structural reinforcements.

2. Contractor vs. Structural Engineer Dilemma:

• While contractors play a crucial role, some contracting companies might mistakenly mislabel structural work as mere reinforcement, or just additional support when, in reality, it should have been a work that requires an engineering review, structural calculations, and drawings, followed by a contractor to pull the permit and perform the work. This misclassification becomes apparent during reevaluation that often is required by appraisers and loan officers, leading to additional costs and potential complications.

3. The Aftermath of Misjudgment:

• Clients opting for contractors often face post-installation appraisals that demand structural engineer approval. This step becomes problematic when the initial work fails to meet code standards, necessitating costly corrections. It also gets expensive as the registered professional engineer or licensed professional will need to verify whether the work completed meets the load requirements or if it needs adjustment and modifications.

4. The Engineering work:

• Structural engineering involves load calculations, correct beam spans, proper footing size, and appropriate load path distribution. Failure to adhere to these principles can result in non compliance work.


In navigating the complexities of real estate transactions, our advice to real estate agents, sellers, and buyers in Pennsylvania is clear: involve a structural engineer early on. By doing so, you can mitigate potential problems, save time, and reduce costs. Appraisals should also prioritize evaluations by a Pennsylvania structural engineer before greenlighting any structural work. This proactive approach ensures that any structural modification done is sound and meets the minimum requirements set by the structural engineering standards for Pennsylvania.

Written by Firas Abdelahad, P.E.

Firas Abdelahad has been a practicing structural engineer since 2005, collaborating with a diverse range of professionals, including consultants, architects, investors, homeowners, contractors, and subcontractors. Together, they tackle the various challenges that can arise during the design and construction phases of projects.

Firas has reviewed, evaluated, and assessed thousands of properties across the state of Pennsylvania, spanning from State College to Erie and throughout Western PA.


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