“Why an Engineer”
Arthur D. Moeller, PE
I am often asked when it is advisable and essential to secure engineering expertise in planning, designing and guiding construction or repair projects.
The answer is not simple since a great number of variables must be considered. Most often there is no decision, since the requirement is set by regulatory and or insurance oversight. Too often the decision not to deploy engineering expertise is made with the idea of saving cost. At question is whether omitting engineering discipline saves anything. Costs for guesstimate/trial and error work always lead to inefficiencies and rework due to project failures, construction overkill (if a little is good, more is better, right?) or an inability to pass inspections. Beyond money, the costs of the engineering omission can be time. Protracted project delays and facilities unavailable for scheduled use, cut deep into budgets and retard production operations.
Rather than respond with negatives or fear, my answer to the question of “why an engineer” almost always has me offering the top ten values of the service:
- Most jurisdictions require a Professional Engineer’s review and/or stamp prior to approving the building permit.
- An engineer will design a solution that is in compliance with the governing building and safety codes.
- The lending institutions and insurance companies may require an “engineer’s review and report” prior to loan approval and insurance coverage respectively.
- An engineer will analyze your problem and design a safe, efficient and cost effective solution. Spending more on needless contracting and materials is not a savings.
- To determine if your structure is safe, an engineer will analyze the structural components of your building, evaluating the condition, deflections, geometry and forces acting on each member, to draw a conclusion regarding the integrity of the building system. Remember any change to a structure affects all aspects of the structure.
- An engineer will design the structural and mechanical aspects of your project and communicate those aspects to the contractor through the use of drawings and specifications. These drawings are a permanent record that will be required when and if further changes are contemplated.
- Through an understanding of the characteristics of different building materials a structural engineer can clearly explain why certain structural elements need repair and make recommendations on how to fix them or make modifications to the structure in the most cost effective way while remaining code compliant.
- For life safety reasons-“there are always people involved with the constructing or use of a structure, whether it is a grain bin, an equipment support tower, parking garage or a street light.”
- Qualified engineering capabilities are broad and include areas of expertise in problem solving, engineering foresight, project management, cost estimating and analysis, creativity, and document preparation.
- Engineers apply mathematics and scientific principles. Engineers do not guess!
Arthur Moeller, PE is COO of CTEC AG and CEO of Moeller Engineering LLC headquartered in Des Moines, IOWA. After earning his engineering degree from Iowa State University, Art has specialized in Agribusiness facilities engineering with major insurance companies and as CEO of his own firm.