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What is the difference between a Project Manager and an Owner’s Representative?

Throughout the many years in the construction and the engineering business, I have heard of many nomenclatures and meanings that often get confused and misused.  After all, the construction and engineering businesses are extremely complicated.  Products and materials may come and go and may be referred to by many different names; and after many years, get replaced by other products.  The many services and professionals that are used in the construction and engineering businesses are varied and at times also get confused. Such is the case of the Project Managers being called Owners Representatives and vice-versa.  This blog will explain the difference.

I will begin by defining what a Project Manager is.  A Project Manager is a person that manages any type of project. You have Project Managers that head a team of designers that are building a website, are researching a theory, or any other item that requires a team approach to accomplish. Of course, a project may also include the construction of a building or managing construction of any type.  It would not be a mistake to say “I am looking to hire a Project Manager to manage the installation of the drywall installation of my drywall company”.  It would also not be wrong to say “I am looking to hire a Project Manager to oversee the implementation of a quality control process for the manufacturing of a new electrical automobile”.  It will also not be incorrect to say “I want to hire a Project Manager to oversee the General Contractor for my construction remodeling project”.  So, as you can see, a Project Manager is basically a person who manages a team that is trying to accomplish something; whether it’s a construction project or not.

An Owners Representative, on the other hand, is a type of Project Manager that specifically deals with representing the owner of a construction project (i.e. the person that is paying for the construction). Since the Owner’s Representative represents the owner on a construction project, the specific scope of work and responsibilities that an Owners Representative may undertake may vary widely from job to job. As such, it is important that a good contract between the Owner and the Owners Representative be made where all of the duties of the Owners Representative are laid out in detail.  At times the Owners Representative may be in charge of making sure the safety of the project is overseen, and at other times it will not be.  At times, the duties of the Owners Representative may become so burdensome that the Owners Representative will be required to be present at the job site every day at all times if he is to fulfill the duties as laid out in his contract.

Simply put, an Owner Representative is a type of project manager.  It will not be wrong to use one or the other when you are referring to a person overseeing a job and representing the owner.  However, bear in mind that you are being more specific and that more people will understand exactly what you are referring to when you have an Owners Representative on your project and they are called out as such. It is sort of like saying “I’m going to the cardiologist today” as opposed to “I’m going to the doctor today”. Neither is wrong.  People will just understand the specifics of what the doctor’s scope of work is.

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What is a 40-year certification Illumination Study?

If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you have an interest in getting 40-year recertification completed for your property.  But then you also need to do an illumination study in addition to the 40-year inspection.  

Before I go into what an illumination study is, I must define that 40-year recertification is an inspection that an Engineer does to a property when a property is 40 years old and every 10 years thereafter.  Basically, the inspection deals with electrical and structural issues that a property may have that may be a safety issue for the property’s inhabitants. There are certain minimum items that a property must comply with including the illumination at the parking areas.

As of the writing of this blog, only properties in Dade County are required to have an illumination test 

Why do you need an illumination study?

We all know that dark areas at night can be a hazard.  There are many things that can happen in open parking lots such as car accidents, muggings, and robberies.  It is for this reason that Dade Country has required that parking lots contain a certain minimum amount of lighting.  It all comes down to a safety issue.  We all want to be safe.

Light meterWhat is an illumination study?

An illumination study is an analysis of the lighting levels at the parking areas of your property. At its most fundamental, your professional that you hire for your 40-year recertification will walk around the parking lot and measure the light levels at the different areas.  A light meter is used to measure the levels and at no time will the lighting levels be less than 1 foot-candle.  After the inspection, your professional should be able to let you know, through a written report, the areas where the lighting needs to improve.

What to do before the inspection?

There are many reasons why your lighting is at a level that is lower than those required.   But the fact remains that you should take certain steps before your professional performs the inspection. One of the main things you can do is to change the bulbs on the lighting that may have blown and are no longer working.  Another item is so cut down any branches or other vegetation that may be covering any lighting.  These 2 items are cheap, quick and easy to perform.  If the electrical current has been cut off to one of the light fixtures, it would be a great idea to get an electrician to repair it.  Once you’ve completed all the easy steps you can to bring your lighting up to snuff, then you can get your professional to do the inspection with the light meter. If you fail to take these up-front simple measures, then chances are that your inspector will do the inspection and then require you to perform the repairs and then will likely charge you for a re-inspection.

What to do to increase illumination levels in your parking area if you fail the illumination test?

You're professional that performed the inspection will be your first line of defense. They will guide you through the most feasible and economical ways to bring your parking lot to acceptable levels.  The best and most economical case is that your light fixtures can accommodate a brighter bulb and you can take care of it like that. On the other hand, the worst-case scenario is that you will need to completely re-do your lighting which will require new lamps, posts, and underground wiring.  Again, it is your profession that will guide you through the process and the possibilities.

It is important to note that this performing a lighting analysis is not as simple as it sounds. How can an engineer guarantee that by just changing the bulbs to a higher wattage will make the problem go away?  Also, how can an engineer know that by adding 20 light posts instead of only 10 posts will make the problem go away?  The answer to these questions lies in the fact that these engineers have computer programs that model the parking lot and are able to experiment with different types of lights and locations so that your entire parking lot has the correct lighting levels. Of course, this is a specialized engineering task and you will likely be charged for this service.  Again, it Is your inspection professional that will best guide you through the process.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Dade County requires that illumination studies be done in parking lots as a requirement to the 40-year recertification report.  After you make sure that the simple items are done, such as changing out non-functioning bulbs, you can call upon your professional to perform the test and ultimately rely on them to take you through the entire process as your consultant.

We here at G. Batista & Associates are engineers that have performed thousands of inspections and are ready, willing and able to help you on your 40-year recertification inspection and your illumination test.

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What is the difference between an Architect and an Engineer?

In order to understand what the differences between an Architect and an Engineer are, we must first basically define these.

An Architect is a person who designs buildings and is typically the point person of a design team. 

An Engineer is a person that specializes in the design of a unique aspect of the building such as electrical systems, Air Conditioning systems, and plumbing designs. 

Architects and engineers must work together closely to design and construct the building. Although their duties overlap to an extent, they are totally separate professions with their unique skills and responsibilities. 

Architects and Engineers take a different curriculum in school. During college, architects will take more art-related classes, whereas engineers will take more science, technology and math classes. These different educational paths reflect the different focuses each professional brings to the project. While architects concentrate on the aesthetics of the project, engineers instead focus on the structural components of those projects. 

Generally speaking, the architect draws the plans showing general views and details of all the spaces and elements of the building, then the engineer based on those plans he draws another set of plans showing the specific size of all the structural components of the building. 

Therefore the key difference between an architect and an engineer is that the architect focuses more on the artistry, beauty, and design of the building, while the engineer focuses more on the technical and structural aspect of the building. 

If you as a customer need a little room, an addition to your existing house, renovate your existing residence, or to build the home of your dreams, then the very first thing that you need to do is, to hire an architect, because he is the qualified professional to translate your needs, and desires into habitable, functional, and beautiful spaces. Once the architectural design has been accomplished satisfying your needs then the architect will work together with the engineer to make sure all the structural components of the space or a building will perform their functions in perfect harmony. 

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How to choose an engineer for your concrete restoration project?

choose an engineer

Introduction

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
  • References
  • Qualifications
  • 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?)

Notes:

Choosing the Engineer1- 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.

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Guide on How to Hire An Engineer to do your 40 year Recertification

How to Hire An Engineer to do your 40 year Recertification

The Beginning

You have received your notice in the mail and are asking yourself "what is a 40 Year Recertification?".  Before you proceed to read this blog, make sure you know what a 40 Year Recertification is first.  Once you know the answer, you can then proceed with the next step.  Obviously, you must find a qualified professional to do this work. This blog will provide you with some guidance.

Finding a Professional

First of all, only qualified people can do 40 Year inspections.  Florida law says that it either a licensed engineer or architect can do the inspection. Obviously, there are many engineers out there than can do the inspection

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and it is up to you to do some homework to find one.  A good place to begin your search is the internet. Although you can use the yellow pages or referrals, Google is the best place to begin the search.  Once on the Google page, you can type in "40 year recertification engineer Broward". You can change the key words to include the place you live.  You should get several places that market this type of service.

Checking up on the Engineer

Now you are ready to put your investigator hat on.  The first place to check is the (DBPR) Department of Business and Professional Regulations  website.  You can click here to access the site where you can input the name of the inspector and/or the name of the licensed owner of the business.  This will let you know a little bit about the person and if there have been any complaints files against them or even if their license if active.  With this information, now you are ready to make the phone call and ask some smart questions.

Questions to ask the Engineer

Now you need to ask some questions and hopefully get some good answers.  You may want to have a paper and pen ready to jot down the answers so that after you speak to each, you can compare the answers.  Some of the questions may be as follows:

  • Do you carry Errors and Omissions insurance?  Needless to say, the more established and serious firms carry insurance to protect you and protect themselves. This is a good thing to have.
  • Do you have a written proposal that you can send me once I give you the information on my building?  Written proposals are very important.
  • How much do you charge for the inspection?  Do you include a second or third visit after you perform the initial inspection?  Read our blog on how much an inspection costs.
  • What are the payment terms? Can I pay you once the inspection is finished?
  • What is the time frame to do the inspection?

Signing the Contract

Finally, you have found your engineer and are ready to sign the contract.  At times it is important to have your attorney check the contract, especially

Signing the Contractif this is a large and expensive inspection.  The language in the contract should be plain and simple.  As such, you should be able to carefully read it and ask the engineer any questions you may have.  This inspection may be technical, but the contract language does not have to be.  You have every right to ask questions and get good honest answers.

Many contracts require payments up front.  It is normal to pay a portion up front, but try not to pay the whole amount until the inspection is performed.  Finally, you should monitor the progress  of the inspection. Engineers are licensed professionals and are held to a high ethical standard and as such you should not have problems.

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