Choosing the right engineer is vital to a concrete repair project. You can compare your engineer to a head coach of a basketball team. The coach teaches and advises the team members on the best approach to compete. He can also present a plan that will ensure ultimate victory. Therefore, it is important to hire your coach at the very beginning of the repair process. Your engineer is the professional that is experienced and qualified to help you through all the complicated steps.
Many people begin with choosing a contractor. This is the wrong way to approach your concrete repair project. A concrete repair contractor may provide you with a good report and quantifications, but these cannot be used to submit these repairs for a permit. Only an engineer can sign and seal the plans required for a permit. If a contractor performs this engineering work for you, it will likely be a waste of time for him, since the inspection will have to be redone by an engineer.
Choosing the Engineer
Choosing the right engineer doesn’t have to be a grueling task. A written proposal to complete the job should suffice as a tool to compare candidates to each other. You should ask them to provide the following information with their proposal:
- Past projects
- Copies of their licenses
- Insurance information (Errors & Omissions insurance)
Many Associations have found it helpful to ask the engineers to talk to the Board and introduce themselves and answer questions on the spot. But you must keep in mind that the cost of the engineer is typically a fraction of the eventual cost of the repairs. All your energy should not be focused on hiring the right engineer. Instead, allot more time to finding a reputable and competent contractor.
Checklist for Choosing the Right Engineer
I have compiled a checklist as a guide for those seeking an engineer for their concrete repair project. Ask for the following:
- Florida Professional Engineer License Number. Confirm if the license is valid by logging on to www.myfloridalicense.com. You can also verify if any complaints have been levied against the Engineer.
- Years of Experience in Concrete Repair.
- Amount of E & O (Errors and Omissions) Insurance. Also known as Professional Liability Insurance. This covers the Engineer (and thus the Owners) from mistakes or omissions made in the normal course of the work. $1 Million is the norm for established firms.
- Amount of General Liability Insurance. $1 Million to $2 Million is the norm for an established firm.
- Intangibles. Insist on meeting the licensed Engineer in person and any person that he will delegate your project to. Rate your engineer on his communication and interpersonal skills. Is the engineer approachable and accessible? Does the engineer exude leadership, respect, and confidence needed to lead the team?
- Amount of Technical Staff to perform the work (including required inspections) when the project requires it.
- Does the engineer have an established physical office? For how long have they had this office?
- Has the engineer ever been sued or have any legal claims been made against him or the company with reference to his duties as an engineer? Are there any current and pending claims?
- Always ask for past project references.
- Does your engineer also have hands-on experience in concrete repair (Contractor) and is someone who can bring that dimension of experience to the table when performing the engineering facet of the project?
- Memberships in Associations related to the concrete repair industry
- Leadership Positions or in Professional Organizations (Is the Engineer respected in his field?)
1- Keep in mind that the cost of an engineer is typically a small fraction of what your construction costs are going to be. Make your main focus hiring the right contractor and helping your engineer stave off issues before they happen.
2- This Checklist is to be used only as a general guide in order to help you choose the right engineer and to empower you to ask the right questions of those you are looking to hire.
Final Word of Advice
Engineering contracts for concrete repairs can be complicated. On the simple side, an engineer can give you a contract that is only for him to provide you with plans for the repair. On the complicated side, the engineer can provide you with a contract that could include additional services such as inspections and other administrative duties during construction. Finally, you should always hire an attorney with some experience in the construction industry to guide you through the legalities.