What are the basics of structural engineering?

Structural engineering is the backbone of building new structures and remodeling existing ones. However, understanding the basics of structural engineering can go a long way in helping ensure you are in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations. This way, you can save time and money as you formulate your building plans.

What Is Structural Engineering?

Structural engineering involves the process of designing structures and non-structures that are capable of bearing any type of load, such as gravity, wind, people, or other weather events. 



Structural engineering aims to build structures that have longevity and stability in mind. Structural engineering also involves the analysis of structural designs to determine how well the structure may withstand loads or other forces.


What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

Structural engineers are responsible for ensuring a structure’s design safety. Structural engineers may be responsible for calculating potential loads, drawing up structural designs and specifications, making observations about existing construction sites, conducting analysis, reports and evaluations, and reviewing other structural engineer’s design plans.


Structural Engineer vs Architect

It is not uncommon for structural engineers to be confused with architects. However, architects are responsible for the look, and feel of a building structure, not its longevity or safety. 


Structural engineers are tasked with using materials to design structures that are going to be stable. This might include determining what size materials are going to be needed as part of a safe design plan.


Structural Engineer vs Civil Engineer

Structural engineers are also often confused with civil engineers. Civil engineering involves the construction and design of civil systems such as water systems, dams, airports, community or government buildings, bridges, roads, and sewer systems, to name a few. 


While structural engineers may work on projects like these, civil engineers are responsible for handling these types of projects as a whole, whereas structural engineers focus primarily on how the structure will withstand force.


Residential Structural Engineering

Residential structural engineering refers to the design and construction of residential properties and structures, including hotels, single-family homes, and apartment buildings. Structural engineers are brought in on these projects to help ensure these structures are capable of withstanding the effects of snow, wind, water, and other loads. 


Structural Engineering and Physics

Structural engineers are responsible for calculating the stability of structures to ensure the building is safe for all occupants, and those surrounding the building. 


Structural engineers will determine which types of building materials need to be used under specific types of pressure. This way, the structure can remain sound when there are disruptive forces, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or floods. Structural engineers can also help identify unsafe structures, including issues with moisture retention or structural settling.


Life Cycle Assessment

Life cycle assessment refers to the sustainability of the building materials used in any given structure. Structural engineers are responsible for selecting the most environmentally friendly options given the project. Structural engineers will need to choose building materials that are more likely to remain durable given changes to the environment, climate, and weather conditions over time.



Having an experienced and respected structural engineer on board for your building project can ensure your building plans are up to code and in compliance to achieve your goals. 


At DDA Engineers, P.A., we have knowledgeable inspectors and structural engineers on standby, who work to ensure your structural drawings and building plans are set up for success. Schedule a confidential consultation today when you call our Miami office or complete our quick contact form.

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