When Does a Homeowner Need a Civil Engineer?

A civil engineer is a professional who specializes in the design of manmade construction; this would include buildings but also roads, dams, bridges, and even sewer systems. As a homeowner, you may not think that you ever need to hire an actual civil engineer, but very often their services are needed above and beyond the services of a general contractor. This can ensure the safety of certain aspects of civil construction and renovation around your home and property. Note when you should call a civil engineer who can work with your contractor.

1. When adding a long driveway in a rural area

If you live in a very rural area and need to add a long driveway across your property, it's good to call a civil engineer. He or she can note soil conditions on the property and if it can support the weight of the driveway material and the weight of a vehicle. A longer driveway may also need to be poured around trees and other natural features, and a civil engineer can map out the best route for the installation so it causes the least disturbance to the environment.

2. When work affects exterior plumbing pipes

Exterior plumbing pipes are not just buried randomly in the ground; they need to withstand the pressure of the weight of soil and need to be away from tree roots that can cause damage. A civil engineer should be called if your project affects the exterior plumbing pipes, as they will ensure that new pipes are protected and installed properly. If you're having larger pipes installed, they may even need to reroute them to an area that is better able to support their added weight, and can ensure that the ground is safe for the installation process.

3. When constructing around a body of water

Even if you're thinking of building a small bridge over a canal on your property or want to build a boat dock, manmade pond, or anything else that has to do with water, you want to call a civil engineer. Water affects the strength of soil so that bridge columns and posts need to be especially strong, and the columns of docks may need to be installed a certain distance from water's edge so that the soil isn't so moist. When designing a manmade pond, you also need to ensure that the walls are strong enough to keep the pond from collapsing. Whatever your plans for construction or renovation, if it's near or involves water, call a civil engineer to assist.