Robert W. "Bob" Jensen, P.E.
bjensen@jensenengineers.com

Michael S. Jensen, P.E.
mjensen@jensenengineers.com

972-994-9872
972-994-0747
972-692-5713 fax

SELECTING A STRUCTURAL ENGINEER 

A registered (Licensed) P. E. is authorized by the State to represent the best interests of his client by offering an independent solution to a problem.  A qualified Engineer should have a broad working knowledge of building construction and repair.

When evaluating an Engineer, become familiar with his past experience, realizing that anyone can pass himself off as an “expert” in this line of work.  He should be a Professional Engineer (P. E.) Registered or Certified in the State where the work will be performed.  Do not accept an Engineer-in-Training (EIT), “Certified Foundation Repair Specialist” or other similar designation.   

Do not fool yourself by “shopping price”, thinking all Engineers or Professionals are alike.  Generally, the lowest priced Engineer knows the value of his work and prices it accordingly.  Understand that one way he can attract customers is with a low price.  (If you needed a medical procedure performed, would you hire the lowest-priced doctor?) 

Finally, understand there are 3 basic levels of inspection.  The most abbreviated is Level A, which does not include an elevation survey.  Jensen Engineers believes the minimum you should request is a Level B Report, which lists relative elevations, defects, conclusions and recommendations.  Type C is for more serious use such as litigation.

To begin this process, examine your property to ensure soils are sloping away from the foundation at all building perimeters.  During the next rainfall, grab an umbrella and walk outside to look more closely.

Other questions to ask:

  • Will the Engineer you hire be the person showing up to do the actual inspection?  Watch out for a technician doing the field work to be reviewed by an Engineer who never has visited the property.

  • Is his registration current?  Does he have any disciplinary actions pending?  In Texas you can check with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers at www.tbpe.state.tx.us for more specific information.
  • How long has the Engineer been performing the particular type of inspection?  Is the Engineer truly independent or does he regularly work with one repair company?  If he seems to prefer or refers only one contractor, you may have your answer.  If you need referrals, ask home for at least three contractor names and phone numbers.

  • What type of pier does he specify?  With some exceptions, he should be open to using more than one pier type.

  • Has he had personal experience in actually lifting foundations?  It is important to locate and specify enough piers to properly lift the foundation.

  • Will his report include current foundation elevations, including a description of current conditions?  Will he address any drainage or other deficiencies?  Will he provide a repair plan including specific pier type and placement along with other specific engineering recommendations?  He should not leave these details up to a contractor.

  • If you need a framing inspection (attic, floors or walls), does the engineer have sufficient experience to evaluate and address needed repairs?

  • Will his report be sufficiently detailed so all contractors can bid the same work, simplifying the process of selecting the best contractor.