What Is Structural Engineering?

Construction is so much more than piling bricks up to make a building stand. Structural engineers are the ones responsible for making sure that structures are designed to be stable and safe despite environmental pressures. They do this by calculating the strength and stability of load-bearing structures and applying the laws of physics, and mathematics, along with their empirical knowledge of various materials to design structures.

Structural engineering used to be a specialization within civil engineering but has now developed to become its own discipline.

What Do Structural Engineers Do?

As structural engineers start off by studying the various aspects of civil engineering, some structural engineers also carry out the same tasks as civil engineers. In general, structural engineers oversee the construction of various structures as well as some renovation and demolition projects.

Once an architect has completed the designs for a construction project, a structural engineer is in charge of putting together the engineering design for the project so that it actually works. To put it simply, if the building was a human body, an architect is concerned with the physical appearance that you can see while the structural engineer is concerned with the muscles and the skeleton that make it function. They focus on the smallest details including how various materials will affect the grade and load of the building including those for:

  • Beams
  • Columns
  • Foundations
  • Girders
  • Rafters
  • Trusses

They also report on the costs of the materials necessary to keep the project on track and within budget. Apart from this, structural engineers also analyze blueprints and carry out site visits to ensure the project is being built according to specifications.

Which Projects Require Structural Engineering

Building Code Evaluations

Structural engineers may visit existing structures to remedy potential structural issues and bring them up to code. With new constructions, structural engineers are among the people in charge of making sure that all the elements of the new construction meet regional codes.


Structural engineers are involved when existing structures require the removal of load-bearing walls. Additionally, they are necessary while demolishing old structures to ensure demolitions are carried out safely without damage to the properties surrounding them. 

Structural Analyses

Structural engineers carry out analyses of existing structures like bridges, canals, airports and roads to assess the impacts of the environment and time. They calculate a structure’s displacement, deflection, and overall change in size or shape to determine if it needs reinforcement to stay safe for use.

Which Projects Require Structural Engineers?

Typically, any new build requires the services of a structural engineer. Depending on the laws and mandates of a province, they may require a structural engineer to be involved in any kind of build while others may deem that a civil engineer will suffice.

As a leading Vancouver construction company that offers end-to-end construction services, North Construction has the ability to build and manage the most challenging construction projects in all environments.

We can provide construction project management expertise you need on your new or existing projects, get in touch with us to discuss your project today.