A Guide to Structural Assessments

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If you’re looking to hire a structural engineer to perform a structural assessment on your building or construction project, this guide is here to help. Discover what’s entailed in structural evaluations and how you can use the results to determine the next steps for your project.

What Is a Structural Assessment?

A structural assessment, or structural evaluation, is a series of observations and tests that structural engineers use to assess the integrity and soundness of a structure and its components. Virtually any type of constructed structure requires an examination at least occasionally, especially if it’s slated for future construction projects or is about to change hands.

At F&V, we most often work with public organizations, including municipalities and county-level agencies. However, we also work with private organizations that own commercial or multi-family buildings.

What Are the Parts of a Structural Report?

In general, a structural engineer report can be broken down into five parts. At a glance, they include:

  • Site visit: The engineer will come to the site of the new or existing structure, touring its exterior and interior if applicable. The engineer will typically also take photos for documentation and future reference purposes.
  • Concrete sounding: Engineers perform this test to look for signs that portions of the concrete have disconnected from the rebar or other indications it might be falling apart.
  • Visual inspection: While the engineer is touring the structure inside and out, they will look for signs of distress or deterioration like cracks, swelling, and discoloration of the materials. This can tell them not only if there’s damage, but what type of damage there is and how it could potentially impact the rest of the structure. 
  • Reviewing findings: Once the engineer has finished their assessment, they’ll work on reviewing everything they have noted during the site visit they conducted and compile all the information together into a report.
  • Presenting the report: Finally, your structural engineer will present a report with the findings from their structural assessment for your review and consideration. If the structure is in good condition, the report may only be a few pages long, but buildings with more distress or damage will have longer, more detailed reports.

When Should Structural Examinations Be Completed?

The timing of your structural assessment depends on a few different factors. Some structures—bridges, overpasses, and other types of infrastructure—need inspections at predetermined intervals. However, buildings may only need them on an as-needed basis or before renovations are set to start. Additionally, if any visual signs of changes to the building are noted (i.e., cracking in facades, doors and windows not opening smoothly, uneven flooring, etc.) a structural condition assessment is recommended to investigate the cause of the change.  

Generally speaking, most assessments take between 2–4 weeks to complete from when the initial request comes in to the submittal of the final report). However, there’s a range to this figure as well—some assessments for privately owned buildings can be completed in two weeks, while municipalities with large or intricate structures can take up to two months.

Who Conducts Structural Evaluations?

In most cases, the person conducting your structural evaluation is a structural engineer. These experts have specialized knowledge and licenses that enable them to perform these evaluations or assessments in the field.

Some structural engineers also specialize in specific types of evaluations. For example, at F&V, while we have a team that handles assessments for bridges, buildings, and infrastructure, we also have a dive unit that specializes in evaluating underwater structures.

Different Types of Structural Assessments

There are multiple different types of structural evaluations your project may need. These four are some of the most common assessments we conduct.


At Fleis & VandenBrink, structural assessments of buildings are some of the most common types of evaluations we perform. We typically perform structural assessments for buildings exhibiting signs of distress, or for buildings that have been dormant for an extended period and need to be evaluated before reinstating them for use.

In addition to new buildings, we also provide structural assessments of existing buildings to identify and communicate noted deficiencies and issues before they’re sold to new owners or prior to construction on and around them. This helps the client make informed decisions before potentially making large capital investments.


Because they typically receive traffic from motorists or pedestrians, bridges require federally mandated biennial inspections. This allows government agencies to perform the maintenance and repairs necessary to keep them in safe working order.

At F&V, we help local agencies maintain and improve local bridges to keep drivers safe, enhance ride quality, and maximize long-term bridge performance.


F&V has a long, successful history of providing structural evaluation assessments for municipal and civil infrastructure, including wastewater treatment plants, dams, sewage systems, and more. We’re proud to make municipal structures even safer over the course of their design service life so local residents can safely use the infrastructure they rely upon every day, all while protecting the surrounding environment.

Underwater Structures

Underwater structural inspections are vital for bridges, pipelines, and other structures embedded in rivers, lakes, and streams. Our underwater diving inspection team can test the structural integrity of bridges, seawalls, and piers to ensure their structural integrity.

Property owners and municipalities rely on F&V’s underwater inspections to ensure their foundations are safe, especially along the shores of the Great Lakes where they can receive significant wave action year over year.

F&V’s Structural Evaluation Services

At F&V, structural assessments are just one part of our structural engineering services. We have a proven track record of providing structural evaluations on numerous different types of structures for private, commercial, and public entities. Our in-house expertise allows us to provide straightforward solutions tailored to you and your project’s specific needs.

Tell Us About Your Project

Need an experienced team of engineers to assess your structure? Connect with the team at F&V and tell us about your project. We’ll be happy to help!