Here in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, Areté Engineers’ structural assessments of homes start at about $850, and go up to about $2000, depending on the size, complexity, age, and distance of the property from Blowing Rock. 

Areté Engineering performs only complete structural assessments on commercial buildings or homes. We do not come out and just “take a quick look at one crack in the back foundation wall,” as I was asked to do by a realtor recently. That would be a bit like doing a 5-minute counseling session with a couple who are about to get a divorce — probably going to miss some essential things. 

We also do not do oral reports on properties, because a large part of the reason for a structural engineer’s report is that it is a legal document, signed by a professional engineer, with a PE stamp on it. An oral report provides nothing of that concrete, evidence-based judgment honed by years of experience. 

How Do Structural Engineers Charge for Inspections?

For our structural assessments, we also do not work hourly but have set fees based on parameters regarding the property itself, like square footage, value, distance from our office, etc. 

Some structural engineers do come out for “a quick look” at something on your home, however, and some do that for hourly fees rather than set fees for services, and some do oral reports as well. 

Areté does whole-home designs for the engineered elements, and for projects like this, we do work hourly. Hiring a structural engineer to design all the structural elements of your home can cost from $100 to $200 per hour, on average, if you are billed hourly. Some engineers may charge per square foot, and others may charge a percentage of the total construction costs. 

Here at Areté Engineering, we charge 2% of the total construction costs for residential plans and 3% of the total for commercial. This is generally much less than what either the contractor or the architect will charge. Although all these services are vital, it is the engineer who is most likely to prevent your home from falling down, or even from having springy floors or a leaking roof. 

Are Structural Engineering Services Worth the Cost?

The kinds of things the engineers do include calculating the highest possible wind the home could experience, then designing the major elements of the faces that would encounter that wind, so that major columns and beams bend less than about ½” inward in the worst storm history can imagine. That way your sliding glass doors will not suddenly shatter, and your deck will not be “gone with the wind.” 

I read a blog post the other day about a homeowner who had been told by a contractor that it would be fine to put a hot tub on his deck without a drop beam that a structural engineer recommended for supporting the center of the weight. He was bothered by the fact that the drop beam would impede him from storing his boat under the deck. A few months later, the hot tub, the deck, and all its contents came crashing down … right on top of his boat. The hassle, expense, and potential inconvenience of hiring a structural engineer and following his plans are very small compared to the costs of the alternatives!

Areté provides structural engineering services to the building community. 

Do you have questions about Structural Engineering? Areté Engineering does structural engineering design of homes and commercial buildings, plans for wall removals, decks, and other renovations, and structural assessments on existing homes and buildings. Areté Structures designs and builds Fiberglass-Reinforced Polymer pedestrian bridges. Areté Infrastructure division designs and inspects major and minor bridges throughout the Southeast. Come visit us at Home – Areté Engineers