Frequently Asked Questions about the ACSE and Structural Engineering

What do structural engineers do?

Structural engineers carry out strength calculations and prepare drawings of structures to ensure they are strong enough to avoid collapse when loaded. The most common structures are buildings and bridges, tunnels, walls to hold back earth embankments, large tanks and silos as well as mining structures.

Structural engineers generally work in teams and look at the way a structure is to be built. They ensure buildings are strong enough to withstand natural forces and loads imposed through use. Through research and testing they help to develop safer, more environmentally friendly buildings and structures.

Some structural engineers work in the design of structures (carrying out the strength calculations and supervising drawings), others specialise in the building of structures and some work in research. Structural engineers often work with architects, builders, and mechanical, electrical and chemical engineers to ensure that all parts of the structure are safe and capable of fulfilling their intended function.

I need to hire a structural engineer. Can you recommend someone?

The companies that employ our members are included in our listings directory. We recommend searching our listings by filtering the category of work required and/or your location.

My neighbour / strata manager / client / builder has engaged a structural engineer to conduct services for a current project. How do I check their credentials?

A suitably qualified and experienced engineers should some or all of the following credentials:

  • ACSE Membership  – All members of the ACSE must have a minimum of ten years’ structural engineering experience that can be verified by an existing ACSE member.
  • They hold chartered status (CPEng) with Engineers’ Australia or an equivalent international qualification.
  • They hold a position of authority within an established engineering practice which requires supervision of project staff and responsibility for the certification of structural designs
  • they must be included in the National Engineering Register (NER Structural). Engineers on the National Engineering Register can be found here https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/portal/ner/search

If you would like to confirm ACSE membership status of a particular structural engineer please contact us via email: admin@acse.org.au

I been advised to obtain a Structural Engineers report. What is it and how do I obtain one?

When a building is constructed or renovated, all of the major structural elements of the building are designed and certified by a consulting structural engineer. This includes the roof, wall and floor systems, concrete elements, decks, balconies, carports, retaining walls etc.

Building Inspectors are Licensed Builders rather than structural engineers. During Building Inspections, faults with a structural element may be detected and then the inspector must recommend further investigation by a qualified structural engineer. This is a requirement of the Australian Standard for building inspections.

An engineer will visit the site, inspect the structural fault and prepare a detailed report that describes the fault, its cause and any remedy or repairs that may be required.

You will need to engage a structural engineer to assess your structure and supply a report. To find a structural engineer working in your area please refer to our listings directory.

Do I need a Structural Report?

Cracking is commonplace in most properties, but cracking can get worse over time and this deterioration can be difficult to predict. Large cracks or faults should be inspected by an engineer where damage is detected. If the cracking or structural damage is beyond what one would reasonably expect to see in a property of that type and age, or if the damage poses a potential safety hazard then a structural report is considered essential.

If you are considering the removal of a load bearing wall, carrying out structural modifications or building a retaining wall over 1m high a structural engineer is considered essential.

What information should a Structural Engineering report contain?

A Structural Report should be a clear and conclusive written report following a visual inspection of a property.

There are many types and purposes for Structural Reports depending on the scope of works. There are reports to discuss the condition of an existing building, or reports to outline design options for new buildings, or reports reviewing other engineer’s designs. Some reports can be specific to one element or component of a building or structure and others can look at the structure as a whole. As on overview most reports are likely to contain an executive summary, an introduction, specify the purpose of the report, detail how the engineer investigated/reviewed the topic, list outcomes/findings, and conclusion.

I have received poor service from a structural engineer. How can I make a complaint?

The ACSE exists to support the professional development of its members and does not get involved in business disputes. For matters relating to poor conduct Engineers Australia can respond if the practitioner in question is a member of Engineers Australia or is registered on the National Engineering Register. For more information on complaints visit Engineers Australia. Alternatively, we recommend contacting the Department of Fair Trading.

How do I become a structural engineer?

A degree in structural engineering from university will prepare students to design and test materials used in structures. Structures include buildings, bridges, in-ground structures, footings, frameworks and space frames, including those for motor vehicles, public artworks, space vehicles, ships, airplanes, cranes, concert staging and entertainment structures. They can be composed of any structural material (the most common being concrete, structural steel, timber, aluminium and glass) including composites such as carbon fibre and novel materials.

Structural engineering students learn to apply mathematics and science to examine stress and load. In addition, they will learn about issues such as failures, safety, and environmental impact.

A graduate degree in structural engineering is needed to be a professional structural engineer. The Structural College of Engineers Australia is one of eight organisations responsible for the learned society activities of Engineers Australia. There is a wide variety of structural engineering programs available in Australia for individual fields of study.

I am a high school teacher/careers advisor and would like to invite a guest presenter to educate our students about their profession. Can the ACSE facilitate education about a career in structural engineering?

Yes, the ACSE can organise for practising structural engineers to participate in a presentation about structural engineering careers, and the different career paths structural engineers can follow.

Do the ACSE facilitate guest speakers to present informative technical lectures on structural engineering for university teaching programs?

Yes, the ACSE can provide experienced engineers to present on a range of technical topics relevant to a university level structural engineering curriculum.