A newly developed smart sensor node that can monitor the safety of temporary structures such as scaffolds at construction sites is detailed in this paper. The design methodology and its trade-offs, as well as its influence on the optimization of sensor networks, is examined. The potential impact on civil engineering construction sites, environmental and natural disaster pre-warning issues, etc., all of which are foundations of smart sensor nodes and corresponding smart sensor networks, is also presented. To minimize the power requirements in order to achieve a true wireless system both in terms of signal and power, a sensor node was designed by adopting an 8051-based micro-controller, an ISM band RF transceiver, and an auto-balanced strain gage signal conditioner. With the built-in RF transceiver, all measurement data can be transmitted to a local control center for data integrity, security, central monitoring, and full-scale analysis. As a battery is the only well-established power source and there is a strong desire to eliminate the need to install bulky power lines, this system designed includes a battery-powered core with optimal power efficiency. To further extend the service life of the built-in power source, a power control algorithm has been embedded in the microcontroller of each sensor node. The entire system has been verified by experimental tests on full-scale scaffold monitoring. The results show that this system provides a practical method to monitor the structure safety in real time and possesses the potential of reducing maintenance costs significantly. The design of the sensor node, central control station, and the integration of several kinds of wireless communication protocol, all of which are successfully integrated to demonstrate the capabilities of this newly developed system, are detailed. Potential impact to the network topology is briefly examined as well.