flipping an older home - need structural engineer?

5 Replies

Hi All,

I'm a newbie in North Carolina.  My husband inherited an older home built in 1920's.  We plan to start flipping with this as our first project.  We will strip it down to the studs to update the electrical and plumbing, add hvac, new drywall, floors, and roof.  Some of the changes we want to make are remove a couple of doors and widen the openings (into kitchen and living room), add a second bathroom (using extra space already in master bedroom), and some storage/closet space.  Do we need a structural engineer for these things? Of course we will get the needed permits, but do we have to have a structural engineer draw up plans or can we make the changes with the help of contractors and just have the county inspector come out to inspect each step as we go?  Do we need to have a structural engineer draw up super detailed plans and have them approved by the county inspection/permit office first?  Any advice will be helpful.

If your local city requires a structural engineer, then you have to do it.  Generally, an architect should suffice and your city probably requires one for changing a layout.  Your main concern is opening up and removing walls.   Load bearing walls are key to the strength of the structure.  Altering these walls is possible, as long as there is a beam that adequately spans the removal to carry the load.  

Tara, Go talk to the permitting office that has jurisdiction. Tell them your plans and ask what the requirements are for the work. Some jurisdictions allow a contractor to submit plans that entails only the work that requires a permit, others want a designer (architect or engineer). However, like @Brian Ploszay noted, knowing which walls are structural and which are not may require an architectural analysis, architects engineers or competent contractors should be able to provide this for a decent price. 

when you go to get your permits they will tell you what you need

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