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10 Things to Look Out for In an Architectural Engineer

Architecture involves designing and erecting buildings and is more an art than a science.

An architectural engineer takes care of all aspects of the building design and construction using mechanical, structural and electrical blueprints, calculations and other factors with mathematical precision. This is why you should wisely choose your architectural engineer using the help of the following tips:

  1. The internet proves very helpful as a few searches give you many engineers to choose from. However don’t hire the first engineer you find. Collect multiple quotes from a few probable engineers and make your choice by comparing the quotes based on the services provided.
  2. Ask each firm for a list of their previous and current clients. Call them out to find out how happy they were with the architectural engineer’s design, work ethics and employees. This information gives lots of light into the engineer’s work ethics and relationships.
  3. Similarly, take a look at the firm’s previous work. Firms offering a wide variety of styles and designs show that they have strong creativity instincts and pay attention to personalization. Look for any patterns and qualities that seem to reoccur in the projects as they may also be integral to your design.
  4. Interview both the leader and the team that will work on your project as it is the team you will be interacting with on a daily basis. So get to know as much as you can about these people who will be working for you.
  5. Find out how long the architectural engineer has been in business. Firms that have a strong record of success and financial viability acquired over the years are a better choice.
  6. Check the educational qualifications of the architectural engineer. Engineers who had studied extensively in architectural engineering are always a better option. The engineers who had studied in the best colleges are also a better option as these colleges usually accept only students who they consider academically fit to become an architectural engineer.
  7. Besides educational qualifications, make sure the engineer is licensed or registered. Firms receive their license from their licensing boards only after meeting some specific educational requirements, pass some extensive examinations and have undergone various years of monitored experience in their field of practice. Firms that breach the authority’s ethical standards can end up having their membership or license suspended or cancelled.
  8. Different architectural firms have different goals as an organization, and may provide different levels of service. So study their structure and goals before hiring your firm. You may at times have to choose between a young and ambitious firm for a more senior firm with years of experience. Make your choice based on the constraints your project places on the firm based on your goals. Also, ask if the firm has any other projects at the moment as if they don’t, your project will be their center of attention. However, if they had just acquired loads of projects, your project may not receive that much attention.
  9. Finding out more about the fees and expenses charged by the architectural engineering firm influences your choice. These firms generally break up their fees into two elements. The major component consisting of fees for architectural services while the other element consists of reimbursable expenses for their out-of-packet expenses. For example, money spent for travel and communication while working on your project and for reproducing your contract documents.

Once you decide on these fees, you and your engineer have to discuss and decide if you plan to pay their fees as a fixed, lump sum fee, on an hourly basis or if you will pay them a percentage of your construction costs.

Moreover, these different payment options may also apply for the different parts or services of your project, the limited services they offer or the evolving nature and scope of services throughout the project. Most of the time, you will have to pay the engineer a retainer amount based on their total fees before signing the agreement.

  • If you have a small project it may be wise and okay to make a direct selection based on the engineer’s reputation, recommendation, expertise and fees. However if you have a large project or multiple projects, an architectural design competition proves helpful at making your choice. Based on the contest, the engineers have to submit their solutions for various problems and you have to judge and choose them based on these submissions.

In a nutshell, as you will be investing so much of time and money in your dream project, it is important that you wisely and correctly choose your architectural engineer. With the help of these 10 tips, you can eventually hire an engineer whose work you admire and trust, and who you are comfortable interacting with.

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