When your home starts experiencing problems, possibly due to age, a natural disaster, or another event, having the home repaired and any damaged items restored is essential -- and it's also very tricky. Good restoration companies take care of what truly needs help, but there are some out there that are a little overeager, to put it lightly. If you want to be sure that the repairs you hear you need really do need to be done, hire a structural engineer to check out the items in question.

Avoiding Conflict of Interest

Structural engineers who work independently of the restoration company are free of the conflict of interest that exists when someone who benefits from the repair tells you it has to be done. In other words, if you've just been through a flood, and the foundation company tells you that crack in your wall and floor indicates an expensive problem, you can't really tell if the company said that because it's true or because you'd have to pay them. A structural engineer, however, can figure out what's really happening with the damage and whether you must get it fixed, or whether it's cosmetic and thus not urgent.

Determining Cosmetic and Structural Problems

Speaking of cosmetic issues, sometimes really awful-looking things aren't as bad as they seem. For example, after a quake, drywall can show a lot of cracks, particularly around windows and doors. But many times, these scary-looking lines are just that -- scary-looking lines. The actual wall is just fine. A structural engineer can verify that or tell you which cracks are in fact an urgent repair item.

Finding Hidden Problems

There's one more reason to hire a structural engineer to check out damage -- the engineer can often spot hidden problems that aren't really visible to other companies. Whether it's a plumbing issue in a wall that was damaged during a windstorm, or a floor joist problem after flooding from a burst pipe, the engineer will have a good idea of where the damage from an event can land.

Many times the damage from a disaster or breakdown is apparent and easy to diagnose just by having the restoration company come out. But if you've got something that could be serious or not, get that third-party engineer opinion. It is always better to have an independent voice helping you out so you and the restoration company stay on the same page.