A home is a homeowner’s cherished possession. The opportunity to build a custom home or remodel an existing one is often only available once in a lifetime, and it is advisable to take professional help wherever and whenever possible. The services of a residential engineer can be availed for certain projects that are unique and complex. It’s not uncommon to see a home inspector or contractor recommending a residential engineer’s expert advice and service. There are also scenarios where it’s mandatory to appoint a residential engineer.
A residential engineer is typically designated as a supervisor or project manager on the project site, ensuring that the work is being carried out as planned. He/she also coordinates with the designer if and when design changes need to occur in the field. The engineer ensures that the contractor is following the plans and specifications throughout the project and reports the progress to the client or the homeowner who is building the house. The engineer also arranges for applicable jurisdictional inspections, answers or fields questions regarding the schedule, plans & specifications, and keeps a record of everything that impacts construction. Usually, the residential engineer is the client/homeowner’s trusted representative on the project.
There is also a difference between a site engineer and a residential engineer. The former is the one who dives deeper into the technical aspects of a project, while the latter is accountable for administration. The actual role depends on the specific responsibility that might vary from project to project. It also depends on the size and nature of the project in question.
An engineer that supervises the work of people on the project site has to coordinate with sub-contractors in certain cases, and may also manage a team of junior engineers. A primary goal of the engineer is to avoid any oversight that can prove to be a costly affair at any juncture. Be it construction or maintenance, every single member of the team has to be accountable for the smallest of tasks undertaken. Every worker on the site has to be proficient in using the required tools. Also, the workers have to use the safety gear in the right manner. If challenges arise, the residential engineer will intervene to help, aside from handling the aforementioned responsibilities. The delegation of work has to happen in such a manner that every individual knows what to do and what not to do. This depends on the planning and managerial capabilities of the residential engineer who is in charge.
At the outset of a project, residential engineers start with property surveys. They handle compliance formalities that include zoning compliance, structure setbacks, utility locations, existing site conditions, etc., aside from the necessary follow-ups for the same. Planning permissions and approvals have to be taken initially. If any special permissions are required, the engineer handles that and keeps a record of the same. Even during construction, certain procedures are followed to avoid litigation. A case in point is a boundary dispute.
If it is the purchase of a house that has already been constructed, the engineers check the foundation area, roof, etc., for damages. This is to identify risks and eliminate future problems or dangers. In short, everything that an engineer does will be as per industry standards.
Keeping Tabs on Quality
A residential engineer will always aim for the highest quality of construction. He/she will plan and supervise all of the quality control testing and inspections to be carried out. As an expert, he/she is aware of how to use the quality measuring tools that are prevalent in the industry. The engineer also keeps tabs on the quality and quantity of materials that arrive at the site. These materials have to meet the expectations of the construction experts on the project, as well as the homeowner. Otherwise, there could be early damages to the property or unsatisfactory results after construction. The residential engineer should also have a clear understanding of the design done by the structural engineer. It helps in the proper evaluation of the quality of structural members arriving on site. This, in turn, has an impact on the stability of the completed structure.
Quality, cost, and time ‒ these are the most common factors that define the success of a residential construction project. A residential engineer must maintain all records that are required for the same. Back-charge reports and progress reports are just two of the many reports an engineer generates, maintains, and delivers to the stakeholders or local authorities as and when required. The reporting has to be done at specified intervals, so everyone is on the same page. The advantage of this is that when issues are detected in the early stages of the project, they don’t snowball into unmanageable challenges in the future. Maintaining a smooth flow of information within the project team is the onus of the engineer. Although a residential engineer will help mitigate construction defects, many issues don’t arise until a period of time after construction when the homeowner has closed on the property. In this circumstance, having a clear record of documentation throughout the entire construction progress will likely lead to a faster and less expensive solution. A professional residential engineer will be aware of the reporting methods and computing solutions used in the industry today.
How to Appoint a Residential Engineer?
The task of choosing a residential engineer is fairly straightforward, but there are certain aspects that are not explicitly stated. A bachelor’s degree, the required professional license for practice, and relevant experience are some of the most common eligibility criteria to appoint a residential engineer. But factors like level of expertise, integrity, and commitment will come to the fore only after the task has been assigned and the construction work has commenced.
Another prudent option is to take references from friends, family members, and acquaintances before selecting an engineer. If the individual has worked successfully on a similar project, there’s a better probability that he/she will be a good fit for the current one. Another criterion many homeowners look for is the camaraderie between the residential engineer and other stakeholders (designer/architect/structural engineer/contractor). Though what works for one project need not work for another, it’s always good to minimize guesswork while selecting a residential engineer. At times, a general contractor is selected for construction prior to appointing a residential engineer. In this case, the contractor may have recommendations for an engineer based on the former’s work experience. Selecting a team that communicates well together, and works through construction challenges, will always lead to a better outcome.
Do you have questions on selecting a residential engineer for your next project? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.
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*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.
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