At the start of a building project, property managers may question the need for both engineers and contractors. Sometimes, as a means to save money, hiring a contractor to do all the work seems like a viable option. Depending on the project, if property managers choose this route, they may miss out on a level of engineering expertise that is, in fact, profitable in the long term.
“We have great respect for and good working relationships with contractors, but you should be cautious if a contractor says you don’t need an engineer for your project,” notes Nick Jackson of CET, Project Designer at M & E Engineering.
With this in mind, here are three reasons to consider hiring an engineer for your next building project.
When financing the costs of a project, forgoing the expertise of an engineer can result in inconsistent prices and a lack of understanding of the scope of work. Costly delays, errors and the installation of inefficient systems are often bound to occur.
The expense of hiring an engineering firm to design your project and manage your construction actually offers a long-term pay back. An engineer’s detailed drawings and specifications give a contractor more clarity of the project scope. Engineering drawings identify the make and model of the equipment to be used, how it should be laid out on site and the materials that should be used. This information is what helps contractors meticulously price the project so that their costs are competitive.
With a typical boiler replacement project, the designer will look at the overall system and how the components work together. Engineers will calculate the flow rates of the main system pumps and each boiler pump so that the design of the system is balanced. The operating temperature and design of the heat exchangers and heating coils all contribute to the efficacy of the overall system. Changing a boiler is not always a straight forward task.
Engineers will also focus on the demand for the whole building, allowing for redundancy, design for controls to optimize the operation and will possibly upgrade to a higher efficiency boiler such as condensing type of boiler. This holistic approach saves more time and money, compared to an engineer’s fees. When key items such as equipment cycle time and temperature controls are considered, there is a potential of extending the life of the equipment.
Bigger Picture Approach
During the design process, a consulting engineer works on behalf of the building. The engineer will look at whole-building system design and not just the separate mechanical, electrical and plumbing components. Integrating these systems complements the design and establishes long-term system performance and energy savings. Looking into the reason why items failed and improving on the system, rather than constantly replacing faulting equipment, all plays a part of improving the cost effectiveness of a project.
Engineers work to optimize the building’s various needs and budget, and prepare drawings based on analysis and design calculations to meet building codes. By calculating the required performance of the systems, they can recommend the quality of materials that will be necessary for sustainable and effective systems.
Throughout your building’s lifecycle, engineers can also manage projects and provide consultancy services. Hiring an engineer creates a positive long-term relationship with a qualified, experienced professional who protects the interests of the building. If issues come up in the future, your engineer is there to help you solve problems.
An engineer familiar with preparing building condition assessments or reserve fund studies will have an understanding of the lifecycle of the building equipment. The engineer can then work with the owner regarding replacement schedule and budgeting.
Environmentally conscious principles are now commonplace in the profession, and reputable engineers see opportunities to create more energy efficient buildings. Saving energy is no longer a rarity among real estate leaders, and property managers should expect engineers to understand the intimate connection between technical knowledge and human behaviour.
The future of buildings is more cutting-edge; it involves renewable energy, reducing water use and sourcing and integrating sustainable materials. Additionally, there is a growing appreciation in the industry of the need to track carbon emissions across a building’s life cycle. Engineers can help property managers consider and target those goals, and will conduct a thorough life cycle analysis. Through proper design and retrofitting, a building can dramatically reduce its environmental footprint, be healthier for tenants and perhaps become a muse for others in the industry.
Hiring an engineer to oversee your building project is the right way to go. If your building requires upgrades, replacements or renovations, call an engineer first to design solutions that work and to help you manage a high-performing asset.
For more info on how engineers can assist your next project, connect with professionals at M & E Engineering Ltd.: President Ed Porasz, P.Eng., Nick Jackson CET, Project Designer and Project Engineer Ross Morley, P. Eng. M & E Engineering is a professional multi-disciplined Mechanical & Electrical consulting firm situated in Vaughan, Ontario.