Structural engineers play a crucial role in the construction and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. Whether you are planning a new construction project, renovating an existing structure, or addressing potential structural deficiencies, hiring a structural engineer is essential for ensuring the safety and integrity of your project. Understanding the cost associated with hiring a structural engineer is a crucial aspect of budgeting for any construction endeavor. 

Factors Influencing Cost

There is such a broad spectrum of diverse needs when it comes to hiring a structural engineer that it may be difficult to know what to expect for a cost, and what you should plan on budgeting. Below are the main factors that influence the cost of hiring a structural engineer. 


  • Old/existing structures are often more complex than new construction projects due to unknown material, limited space, and predetermined design criteria. 
  • New construction can vary in complexity depending on personal taste and desired architectural look. 
  • The geography of the construction site can increase the complexity of construction drastically. Steep sites lead to complex foundation designs and require some ingenuity to work through sound designs.


As the scope of a project increases to include multiple disciplines, the structural engineer’s fee can either increase or decrease depending. If there are certain design aspects such as geotechnical engineering that are delegated to other professionals, that is one less thing the structural engineer has to worry about. Other times when certain design aspects are sent to other design professionals, there is coordination that has to happen to make sure the multiple design elements blend together flawlessly.


Bigger doesn’t always mean more expensive, however, most of the time there is a good correlation between size and price. With bigger projects, there are more things that need looked at and designed.


It feels like every construction project is on a very tight schedule and is not going to get done soon enough. There usually is not much that can be done to speed it up, whether you are waiting on materials, or trying to get enough workers to keep the project going. In the engineering process there is not much that can be done to speed it up. There are times when a rush fee can be charged that would cover any overtime worked to get the project done faster.

Different Methods

There are several different ways that project costs can be calculated or estimated. They depend on project specific details. The three main options are outlined below. 


Lump sum bids are usually familiar to the engineer, and they are confident they can accomplish the work within the set budget. Lump sum bids are appealing to both parties because there is a set, known budget that both parties are working within. 

Lump Sum:

Hourly projects are billed at a direct rate per hour of work. You are paying for the time that it takes to cover the scope of the project. Complex projects with many unknowns are often billed hourly. The engineer prefers this because it covers any surprises during the design process. It can be scary for the client because of the unknown budget number. To help with this, there is usually a rough estimate to help get a picture of what to expect.


Percentage costs are associated with the total cost of construction. This type of bid is used a lot for commercial projects that span long timelines. 

Areté Cost Estimates

Areté provides cost estimates and proposals free of charge. All we need is a scope of work and plans if available. Contact us or visit our website for Areté to provide a proposal that includes a cost estimate and timeline for the specified scope of work.