There are many reasons to utilize a structural engineer when it comes to your commercial or residential property. In Florida, structural engineers are required for certain project types. This is because structural engineers are specially trained to analyze, design, and plan the structural components of your project.

Commercial Projects

When it comes to commercial building projects, a structural engineer is usually hired to work directly with an owner/developer on the project. Prior to designing, a Geotech engineer will analyze the worksite to determine if the soil is suitable for the building project. Belt utilizes the Geotech report to design your project. Once we understand the soil we can design to match it.

Once it is determined that the land is conducive for building, it is time to design and plan the building project. A structural engineer will work closely with an architect and design team to select appropriate job materials, beam sizing, and foundation design. They’ll also configure live load, dead load, and environmental load for the property. Wind loads based on the location of the property are a significant factor in the structural design per Florida building codes.

In addition, a structural engineer will work on the safety elements. For example, in Florida, the state requires threshold inspections to be performed during the construction of “threshold” buildings. A threshold building is any building that is greater than three stories, fifty feet in height, or that has assembly occupancy classification. In order to perform threshold inspections, a Special Inspector license is needed. Belt Engineering is qualified to offer such inspections.

when do you need a structural engineer?

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Building Projects

Whether you are building a commercial or residential property, most jurisdictions want assurances from a structural engineer. Regardless if you are building a property from scratch, or making major or minor renovations, a structural engineer is insightful.


Say you are doing a minor renovation such as removing a wall. While you typically do not need an architectural plan for something like this, contacting a structural engineer will determine if the wall is load-bearing. If it is a load-bearing wall, a structural engineer can design a beam and column system to replace it.

Whenever you have a building project where building permits are required, at the minimum an engineering report is typically required by city officials. Some may require a drawing from the structural engineer prior to approving the building permit.

New Structure

The average person knows that an architectural plan is needed for a new structure. Most people do not know they need a structural engineer to review or add details to plans. Prior to ordering materials for your project, make sure architectural plans have been thoroughly reviewed by a structural engineer.

Custom New Structure

While many people select homes from a design book, there are people who want to build their custom homes. It’s always a wise decision to have your architect consult with a structural engineer when it comes to your custom home. You want to ensure that a proper structural framework is developed to accommodate the intricate details of your custom home.

Belt Engineering has found that architects tend to overdesign the structure of custom homes. Running custom plans through Belt Engineering can typically save money on plans designed by an architect.

Theme Park Design

Florida is well-known for diverse theme park entertainment. Structural engineers play an integral role in the design and safety of the structures within a theme park. At Belt Engineering we offer theming design, accessory, and specialty structures, project management, construction administration, structural and threshold inspections, estimating, shallow foundations, deep foundations, temporary shoring, retaining walls and site walls, trench, and tunnel design, and pedestrian bridge design to bring your theme park imaginations to reality.

Storm Damage

In Florida, we are no stranger to storm damage. Structural engineers are typically hired by an insurance company or third party to assess property damage where a catastrophic event, like a hurricane, caused property damage. If the insurance company’s structural engineer comes back with a report the consumer is skeptical of, they may hire an independent structural engineer to assess the damage too.

Potential or Current Structural Component Failure

If your floors are uneven or sagging or there is a crack in your foundation walls you find unsettling, that is a good time to contact a structural engineer. The sooner the better. Predicting how a structure will hold up over time is not an exact science. This is when an experienced engineer is beneficial.

One day your deck appears that it has shifted. If you contact Belt Engineering at this stage, they can determine what steps to take to prevent a catastrophe in addition to what was causing the structural failure in the first place.
If you do wait until your deck collapses to call an engineer, they will determine the cause of the structural failure and design future plans to replace your deck.

Construction Defect

Sometimes construction companies fail to adhere to building codes, use poor craftsmanship, defective materials, or the building’s design was faulty. No matter what the reason, a structural engineer is going to determine the cause of the defect and offer a cost-effective repair solution.

Buying and Selling Real Estate

A structural inspection from an engineer offers peace of mind when you are purchasing real estate. Whether it is a commercial or residential property, a structural inspection provides insights into the foundation’s integrity of your property. Foundation problems can go unnoticed until catastrophic damage occurs. Foundation inspections as part of a real estate transaction are beneficial.

A traditional home inspection does not cover the foundation in the same way. Sometimes a home inspector will refer a potential buyer to a structural engineer if the home has foundation concerns.

Structural Engineers Serving Tampa and Orlando, Florida

Belt Engineering has proudly serviced the Tampa and Orlando areas since 1992. Our experienced structural engineers are an excellent addition to any project you have no matter how big or small.