What Exactly Do Civil Engineering Consultants Do?

Published on Thu, 09/24/2020 - 13:23
Closeup image of engineering consultants working at a conference table or desk, working on a project, blog post image

If you're working on a project that requires the expertise of an engineer, you are likely considering hiring a consultant. Even if you know you need one, you may not be entirely sure what it is they do!

To put it simply, engineering consultants have the responsibility of providing engineering advice and technical solutions for projects. This can involve the coordination of teams, preparing project documentation, preparing project budgets, and designing project plans. Engineers have a broad range of knowledge in all areas of engineering allowing them to analyze and provide solutions for varied projects and issues that may arise. Although engineering consultants primarily work from an office, they often visit project sites to make assessments and meet with project team members, owners/clients, agencies, and contractors.

AN ENGINEERING CONSULTANT'S DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

An engineering consultant's job can vary depending on the company they work for and their background, but typically their duties and responsibilities include:

  • Project Management: Working with clients to assess their project needs and translate those into designs, equipment, or new systems. They begin with developing the initial concept and work through to completion, managing project timelines/teams, and overseeing all project development activities.
  • Technical Solutions: Assessing projects for technical issues and finding ways to resolve them without compromising the project safety, completion deadline, overall budget, or adversely affecting the involvement of other departments or companies.
  • Organizing Project Logistics: Managing and organizing logistics of projects, including bidding and construction management. Analyzing the processes in place and identifying areas that could be improved. Identifying issues and developing solutions to before they become critical.
  • Preparing Project Documentation: Creating documents and reports to detail assessments, concept planning, .

Some engineering consultants focus on the field in which they typically would be functioning as a specialist (structural engineering, for example). They are usually the go-to professional for other engineers or clients that have a need for highly specialized advice. Other engineering consultants may choose to specialize in specific client types and can perform a broader range of functions for them. However, most engineering consultants offer broad services for a few fields of engineering, with the ability to do several types of engineering projects. They will typically assemble a project team consisting of experienced specialists to be able to handle all aspects of engineering specifically required for each project.

SERVICES PERFORMED BY A CIVIL ENGINEERING CONSULTANT

A civil engineering consultant has a role that's dialed in to assist clients accomplish their projects. Here's an idea of what you can expect:

Consultation

This occurs when you need an opinion on specific engineering problems. A civil engineering consultant has the expertise and experience to provide you with answers. These consultations can vary in length depending on your project.

Investigation

Investigations for projects is usually part of the consultation, as the civil engineering consultant will need to study and investigate in order to establish project parameters, provide analysis, and computations for your project. This typically involves site surveys, site visits, consultation with regulatory agencies, as well as a review of reports, studies, previous investigations, and communications that have been prepared by other engineers or management.

Feasibility Studies and Reports

These studies and reports include the purpose of the project , for example, the needs and requirements of a project, solution options, estimated construction costs and any recommendations there may be.

Engineering Designs

This process includes determining the physical characteristics and dimensions of project features that are to be constructed. These are then presented as drawings showing information necessary for construction and are supplemented with specifications detailing construction materials and requirements. These project documents provide contractors the necessary information they need to construct the project.

Procurement

A consulting civil engineer will typically help you select contractors for your project, as well as help you purchase the materials needed. This step usually involves the receipt of proposals from materials suppliers and then selecting those based on negotiations. Many times, there will be competitive bidding involved and the civil engineering consultant will prepare contract documents, drawings, and specifications.

Construction Observation

This may be carried out by the civil engineer consultant and/or by a resident supervisor that they appoint. You can typically expect these services to involve:

  • Periodic site visits
  • Consultations and/or public meetings
  • Interpretation of plans and specifications
  • Review of Contractor working drawings and data
  • Detailed observation and inspection of the project
  • Processing and certification of contractor payment estimates
  • Preparation of any amendments to construction contracts
  • Final project inspection
  • The preparation of the "record" drawings

Legal Services

This may be one you didn't expect, but civil engineering consultants can actually serve as expert witnesses in court proceedings and can advise on engineering matters.

WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE A CIVIL ENGINEERING CONSULTANT

An engineer is a timeless asset and having an excellent individual (or team) working on your project can help bring it to life. Key benefits of hiring a civil engineering consultant include:

  1. Access to their skills and expertise
  2. Their experience in handling projects like yours
  3. Creative solutions to complex problems
  4. Different perspectives that can help improve efficiency, performance, and longevity
  5. Cost savings
  6. Risk minimization

Are you ready to hire a reputable civil engineering consultant for your project? Get a project proposal from our T-O Engineers team!