December 14, 2018

Survey reveals UK homeowners making structural adaptations without consulting structural engineers

A survey by The Institution of Structural Engineers has revealed that many UK homeowners have not consulted structural engineers on key structural home improvement projects.

Among the survey’s key findings are:

Creating open plan kitchen/diners:

Only 37% of respondents believed that a structural engineer would be needed when creating an open plan kitchen diner;

49% of those who had created an open plan kitchen diner in the past five years had done so without the involvement of a structural engineer;

18% of those who had created an open plan kitchen diner in the past five years were uncertain if a structural engineer had been involved.

Building an extension:

78% believed a structural engineer would be needed to create an extension

but

26% who said they had created an extension in the past five years had done so without consulting a structural engineer;

24% of those who had created an extension in the past five years were uncertain if a structural engineer had been involved.

Engineers concerned

Simon Pitchers MIStructE is a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers with extensive experience of working on domestic projects and of advising the public on their works, being a regular guest on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show. He said of the findings: “There are many potentially expensive and dangerous issues in domestic scale extensions and conversions. You could inadvertently affect your neighbour’s foundations or cause serious damage to your home by cutting through a critical element of roof structure. All homeowners considering such works should be sure to consult a chartered structural engineer – their advice can prevent serious problems and potentially save enormous costs.”

Free advice available

Martin Powell, Chief Executive of The Institution of Structural Engineers, said: “It is not that surprising that UK homeowners may experience some uncertainty over the professional advice required when carrying out works or improvements on their homes, but we’re concerned to see that in particular areas there is evidence of very common works, like the creation of open plan spaces, going on without structural advice.

“We would advise anyone who is planning to make adaptations to their homes and is uncertain about where to start to visit www.istructe.org/building-confidence where you can find helpful advice, absolutely free, to help you establish if, how and when to employ a structural engineer – and where to find a local professional.”


The study was conducted online by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of The Institution of Structural Engineers from 30th January – 2nd February and 27th April – 2nd May 2018 with a sample of 2,253 adults aged 16-75 in the UK.  Interviews were carried out on Ipsos MORI’s online i:Omnibus service using a quota sample of adults. Quotas were set and data weighted according to the known offline profile for age, gender and region.