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Question DetailsAsked on 1/5/2015

Do I need an Architect, or a Structural Engineer, or both?

I have a garage roof with structural deficits. Essentially, the existing roof must be demolished and rebuilt. The roofer told me to call a builder. The builder told me to get a structural engineer to prepare plans. One structural engineer told me I first need to hire an architect to prepare a plot map, elevations, and drawings. Another structural engineer told me an architect is not required for this type of job. Some clarification on this issue would be appreciated.

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1 Answer


Actually, all were right under certain conditions.

The roofer passed you to a builder/general contractor - most roofers do not do structural repairs, so he did you a favor by not offering to take on something that is not in his line of work.

The builder/GC probably does that type of work, but realized you would need stamped plans from an architect or engineer to be able to get a building permit and for him to work from. A structural engineer, or in some cases an architect with strucutral qualifications, is the one who would do the actual design and plans.

The structural engineer who said you needed an architect may have misunderstood and thought you were talking about raising the roof to add another floor or such, or were making other building modifications - not just rebuilding the roof the same way it is now. If that were the case, or if you are in a heritage preservation district or registered historic landmark house or such, then an architect's plans and rendering would most likley be needed to get permits.

All that aside, under normal house conditions and with no historic feature or neighborhood issues a Structural Engineer is what you need, and unless modifying the house in general an architect is not needed just to do a structural repair/replacement. The Structural engineer might work as an independent, for an Architecture firm, or for a Civil Engineering firm. Be sure to get one who is experienced with the type of framing you have - rafters and joists, laminated beams, trusses, or whatever - though an initial site visit would determine whether your existing type is the best solution for your house today. My personal recommendation on this - fi in comparable price range, stay away from LVL (laminated veneer lumber "trusses" or "engineered trusses" in attics - stay with dimensional lumber (regular 2x4, 2x6, 2x8 etc) rafters and joists, or dimensional lumber trusses.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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