The structural integrity of a building relies on two major components. The first is the materials used to build it and second, the structural engineer that oversees the project.
Overall, the selection of the right structural engineer makes a huge difference in the operational efficiency of a project.
If you have a specific construction budget and timeline, which most structural projects do, hiring the right residential structural engineer is crucial.
Here are 7 tips on what to look for…
How To Vet a Residential Structural Engineer For Your Project
Not all structural engineers are born equal. Just because one may have an impressive set of qualifications, doesn’t mean they have the experience to run a successful project.
In essence, a structural engineer should have the right qualifications, but also the skill to apply this knowledge on site. This adds value to your overall project and ensures your structure will stand the test of time.
When it comes to hiring a structural engineer, an important three-step process must be followed.
Each evaluation should include a statement of qualifications, a detailed scope of their work and proposal presentation of your project.
But before you get down to making your choice, here’s are 7 crucial considerations when vetting an engineer…
1. Always Look At Their Qualifications
Experience and hands-on knowledge is just as important. But don’t make the mistake of overlooking an official qualification.
Make sure a structural engineer has gained some form of official training in order to ensure all your bases are covered. You need to hire someone who is 100% reliable in their knowledge of a structure, no matter the type of project it is.
A well-trained, knowledgable engineer will be able to identify site problems and areas of concern, but also know how to solve these issues!
Look for a post-graduate degree in structural or civil engineering. Or even a degree in a related subject such as construction or quantity surveying.
2. Look For a Well-defined Scope of Work
As important as qualifications are, nothing can really top years of hands-on, quality experience.
When making your engineer selection always pay close attention to their scope of work and the previous projects they’ve worked on.
A scope of work also relates to a working document or proposal regarding the cost estimates and timeline of your project. This document should clearly translate client ideas into working designs- much like a project proposal.
Make sure the scope of work is thorough and accurate as possible so you gauge an idea of their quality of work.
3. Prioritize Technical Competency
Technical competency plays a critical role in the successful and timely completion of your project. This type of competence comes from education, hands-on experience and a library of skill build over many years in the industry.
Through their studies and over years in the industry, a structural engineer carries a comprehensive toolbox of skills and knowledge.
This toolbox should enhance their ability to tackle any type of project, with an understanding of when and how to use the right tools.
A great way to vet an engineer and gain a better knowledge of their competence is to ask about difficult situations they’ve faced in their career. Their answers on how they faced these challenges should say a lot about their competency!
4. Focus On Project-Specific Experience
A structural engineer may have been in practice for decades, but if they only have one scope of work under their belt, this could be limiting to you. The truth is, general structural engineering experience is not always enough.
This is why it’s important to be thorough during your search and focus on project-specific experience in an engineer.
Their fit for the job should be measured by how many different types of projects they’ve worked on. Ultimately, this makes them all-the-more suited to your project because of their expertise.
Make sure to look for experience in specific types of materials, building structures, site limitations, weather patterns, etc.
5. Look For Thorough Construction Knowledge
Yes, a structural engineer should have an understanding of how construction works. But a thorough knowledge of constructability makes all the difference.
What does constructability relate to though? This means that a structural engineer will ensure a building is relatively easy to build but is built properly.
It also means that an engineer has a good knowledge of construction means and methods. They should ensure that a design is 100% buildable, the cost can be controlled, and they can effectively oversee the project.
6. Ensure Familiarity With Building Codes
What good is a structure if it doesn’t live up to international building codes? In short, no good at all.
Every jurisdiction has a set of building codes which set the standard for minimum levels of safety when it comes to construction. A well-versed structural engineer should always have a good knowledge of these codes.
Structural engineers are legally obligated to adhere to these building codes in their design and building processes. A lack of building code knowledge should be an immediate red flag!
7. Look For Innovative Thinking
With enough technical experience and the right degree, a structural engineer can be relatively effective. But what’s important to remember is that no structural engineering project is ever the same. This is where innovative, out-the-box thinking comes into play.
Unique projects may involve a number of complexities that extend past basic engineering knowledge. An engineer who is able to think creatively and demonstrate innovative intuition is extremely valuable.
In order to determine innovative thinking, ask for examples of complex projects an engineer may have worked on before. Go over the innovative solutions they came up with and make your decision from there.
Where To Find a Structural Engineer?
If you’ve got the project, we’ve got the ideal residential structural engineer for you! At P.E. For Hire, we specialize in talent…
Take a look at our comprehensive selection of licensed engineers and get started on your construction project in no time.