Renovations That Require An Engineer – Pricing, Process, & Timelines

November 23, 2021


After hundreds, if not thousands of home showings, I have heard buyers say it many times, “We could open this wall and…” Renovation aspirations often begin with this thought.

I personally have said it more times than I know, and I have even followed through with it too! You may have experience working on homes, or perhaps you are considering some renovations in the future.

Here are some great tips when the renovations you are considering require an engineer. Engineering is incredibly important because you don’t want a floor collapsing, a saggy house, or to start a project without having a sense of what expenses may be involved. This last part is often key! Below we will discuss pricing, the process, and the timelines involved.

An initial consultation with a structural engineer will cost you between $600-$900. Be very clear about what you want to change, and have your questions ready! An initial consultation means an engineer comes to your home and measures all the nooks and crannies of your home. At this point, they need to get a sense of the primary weight bearing structures, and learn about what you want to change about your home. The whole thing could take 90 minutes to 3 hours or so.

Be nice to these guys. You want them to be willing to share with you some initial findings and potential requirements about moving forward with your project.

Let me explain this further. After you spend the $600-$900 for the consultation the engineer will want you to agree to have them make structural drawings of the changes you wish to make. Drawings can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 (possibly more). The price will vary depending on how many changes you make.

These drawings would be given to your contractor to execute the changes. Don’t forget, city and/or county permits are very likely to be involved too. Permit pricing can vary widely depending on the scope of work and the county/city. You will want to get a sense of what the permits will cost you as well by contacting the appropriate governing body.

Drawings can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks to complete depending on the workload of that particular engineer. This means you may not know what work needs to be done by the contractor until you are able to get the full scope of the project from the engineer. Additionally, if you don’t know what the contractor will charge you, you may not be able to agree to a price and book them. Since contractors are often booking 2-12 weeks out and the engineering process can take up some time you will want to breathe and be patient. Trust me, this is a big one. Be realistic about timelines to save yourself the stress of wrong expectations or surprises.

After the initial consultation you will want to get the most information from your engineer about expected changes and requirements they would add to the drawings and renovation requirements. Why? You probably don’t want to find yourself in a position where you pay $6,000 for drawings only to find out the requirements provided in those drawings makes the project cost prohibitive. This can happen due to so many various changes.

In my last project I learned that a 2’9” footer would need to be installed under my stairwell, under my HVAC system, and under a very inconvenient wall. This change alone made the project undoable and more so unreasonable for the changes we were hoping to make. I’m glad I was able to save us thousands of dollars by getting more information about what the drawings would include BEFORE I agreed to have the engineer draft them.

You should now have some great points of reflection to help yourself be more successful and not waste your hard earned money or time! I am all for you living your best life, but there is always a place for prudence when it comes to renovations.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to me to help you do some concrete thinking. As your realtor, I want you to not only make good decisions about the changes you make to your house, but I want you, especially, to thrive throughout home-ownership.

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Be good to yourself!

~ Matthew