Structural drawings


The last step in structural design is to prepare a structural drawing. A structural drawing contains details describing how a structure should be built. During the project implementation phase, these details must be followed. Other terms that describe structural drawing are; blueprints, construction plans, and structural plans.

Remember, a structural plan is only valid if it’s prepared, signed, and stamped by a licensed engineer. However, it’s important for stakeholders, including homeowners to understand what it entails. That said, let’s look at some of the details contained in a structural plan!

What do structural plans entail?

Structural drawings contain a lot of details. However, this will vary from one project to another depending on its size. In most cases, however, these documents contain the following;

  • An actual plan of the project (electronic/ hand-drawn)
  • Structural instructions and details. This includes; designated materials, connection types, and member sizing. The level of detailing will vary from one project to another.
  • A licensed PE (Professional Engineer’s) stamp and signature

Why you need structural drawings!

If you’re undertaking a construction project, you’ll need a structural drawing. And there are various reasons for that!

For starters, a structural plan is one of the documents needed to pull a building permit. It’s a way of communicating essential building information to the building department. If the details are straightforward, obtaining a permit will be simple.

Apart from helping you get a permit, they improve communication on complex projects. They contain structural details that homeowners, builders, and building departments can easily understand.

Are structural plans hand-drawn or electronic?

As we mentioned earlier, structural drawings can either be hand-drawn or electronic. To determine, the best option for your project, consider these factors;


Hand-drawn structural drawings are generally considered more ‘traditional’. Whether the plan is hand-drawn or not, the structural engineer’s details are exactly the same. The best option for the project will depend on the builder or homeowner’s preference. For those who prefer a more modern look, electronic plans are the way to go. But, if you still like the ‘old-school’ feel, you can choose hand-drawn plans.

  • Offered services

Like in any other business out there, structural engineering firms offer different services. Some companies only provide hand-drawn plans. While other firms only prepare electronic structural documents. This will depend on the engineer’s preference and the type of in-house software/ equipment.

For instance, a younger engineer may prefer to prepare their plans via computer. More experienced or older engineers, on the other hand, may prefer hand-drawn plans. If you’ve got a certain preference, ask the engineering company about their services upfront.

  •  Cost

Both electronic and hand drawings communicate the same details. To choose the best option for your project, therefore, may narrow down to cost. Typically, hand-drawn structural plans are more affordable than electronic drawings.

Now that we’re talking about cost, exactly how much do these drawings cost? Let’s find out?

What is the cost of structural drawings?

Again, the pricing on structural plans will vary based on the project scope. It will also depend on the time taken to analyze the plan and perform the necessary calculations. To learn more about structural calculations, click here!

To get the exact quote, we recommend you contact an engineer and discuss the project. The structural engineer has to consider various factors including calculations and loading analysis. This will help them determine how loads of the entire structure will be transferred.

For a basic remodel project, a stamped and signed structural drawing can cost about $1,200 to $2,000 (or more).

How does a structural drawing differ from other construction documents?

There are several types of construction drawings, each intended for a certain purpose. Some of those documents include;

  • Architectural plans/ blueprints

Architectural drawings refer to the complete set of technical plans. They contain exterior elevations, detailed floor plans, foundation plans, and detailed cross-sections. If you want to build a new house, hire an architect to create blueprints for you.

On the contrary, a structural plan is a document that includes structural detailing. It relays essential structural details about the construction project at hand. These structural details can either be on a structural drawing or architectural drawings.

One thing you need to note though is that architects don’t create structural drawings. Instead, they partner with structural engineers who add structural details to the plans. In that case, the architect will include the engineering cost in the overall quote.

  • As-Built plans

Designing a building and the construction phase are 2 different things. Sometimes, unforeseen challenges arise during the construction phase. This causes the engineer or contractor to change the original plans. Also, the homeowner may decide to change how a certain part of the house looks during this stage. Some of these changes include; moving wall/ door positions, altering ventilation systems, etc.

To demonstrate these changes, contractors use as-built plans. These are constructions drawing that show what was actually built. Also, they show any deviations from the initial plan.


The preparation of structural drawings is a task of structural engineers. However, as a homeowner, it’s important to understand what the plan entails. This enables the construction team to understand the proper drawing standards to implement.

To learn more about structural drawings, contact Innodez Design and Engineering. We offer various structural engineering solutions to homeowners and developers in California.

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