As the economy starts roaring back in the Bay Area, as well as throughout much of California, we are seeing more and more construction work in the residential, commercial, industrial, and infrastructure sectors. Therefore, the need to hire civil engineers (CEs) has risen at a considerable pace, since CEs provide the necessary expertise required to design and build out the area where the project work will take place. This work includes grading and drainage design, as well as upfront work, such as erosion and sedimentation control. Additionally, CEs provide the utility design required for water, sanitary and storm sewers, irrigation and others.
Five things to look for when hiring a civil engineer
So, how do we find the best CE for your project? The best way is to verify the following documentation and expertise:
- Licensing: civil engineers are licensed by the state in which they either live and/or work. Some CEs possess licenses form several states, if they exercise their profession in that state. Therefore, it is important to verify that the CE you are hiring has the proper license form the state where your project is. The CE can provide a copy of their license, but you can also check with the California Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors to ensure that their license is valid and has not expired. Their web address is: https://www.bpelsg.ca.gov/consumers/lic_lookup.shtml
- Liability insurance: CEs typically carry liability insurance of up to $1,000,000 per incident as a minimum. In other words, if the CE you hired makes a design error, for example, and your basement floods, their insurance will pay up to $1,000,000 to make the necessary repairs.
- Experience: the civil engineering field is very diverse and many engineers focus on one particular area. For example, some CEs are experts in designing highways; others may specialize in wastewater treatment, while others work exclusively in the land development sector. That said, there are many CEs, such as myself, who have a wide spectrum of experience. However, what is important is that the CE you hire has the appropriate experience that effectively matches your project as the client.
- Resources: this section covers human resources, as well as equipment, materials, and other related items. You, as the client, will want to make sure that the CE you hire has the appropriate staff needed to perform the work, as required, as well as survey, software, and other equipment to carry out the work as effectively and efficiently as possible. For example, you may require 3-D renderings of the work and/or the ability to scale your project up or down with minimal added effort, which is something that a CE with the correct equipment and software can take care of.
- Sustainability: though not always a legal requirement, sustainable (“green”) design and construction are a growing trend in many jurisdictions. Additionally, striving to design and build sustainability into your construction projects is something that we need to strive for in good conscience. A new house, road, building, etc. can have a huge detrimental impact on the environment if done in a traditional manner, However, designing and constructing with a “green” can greatly mitigate and, in some cases, even eliminate those impacts.