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10 Oct 2018

At some point in our lives, many of us embark on alterations to our home, and that’s just what I’m doing at the moment. We’re ‘knocking through’ between kitchen and lounge, but whether it’s a minor alteration or a large extension or loft conversion, it’s wise to take professional advice at every stage. The ‘Homebuilding & Renovating’ website offer a checklist, but despite the obvious importance of planning permission, building regulations and of course, the beauty of the architect’s design, it is perhaps even more crucial to know that the building will remain standing once the builders start! This is where the skills of the structural engineer are needed and he or she will work alongside the architect to make sure the building remains safe, both during and after the alterations.

The photo here shows where a load bearing wall has been removed and supporting structural steelwork has been put in place to keep upstairs where it should be! The size and placement of the steel has been carefully calculated by our structural engineer and a prop has been put in place for added support until the surrounding brickwork is strengthened. Here we have removed a wall, but there are other situations where the advice of a structural engineer should be sought, for instance, when cutting roof timbers, widening doors or windows or removing a chimney breast. It might be that one visit and some advice is all that’s needed, but in a more complex project, calculations and drawings may be required.

It’s worth remembering that utilising the skills and creativity of a structural engineer may be the difference between an end result you are delighted with and one that feels like a compromise so, whether you are simply ‘knocking through’ or have Kevin McCloud and a film crew on site, get professional advice before taking the sledgehammer to the wall.