Advice for clients wishing to engage our services and select consultants is given below.
For clients new to construction some helpful advice is given at http://www.constructionsuccess.org/index.asp
A basic list of services to be considered for your project can be found here. A list should be agreed before entering into a fee agreement. You know what your getting and we know what we have to produce.
Conditions of contract for consultants may be either the New Engineering Contract, (http://www.neccontract.com/documents/contracts/Guidance%20Notes/NEC3_PSC.pdf), or the ACE, (http://www.acenet.co.uk/index.cfm?page=43), or your own form
Selecting Consultants: A useful matrix may comprise the table below. Add your own weightings for what is important to you.
From an article in the IStructE magazine there is a very simple guide to procuring engineering services that would be useful for small projects:
Professional conduct: good practice guidance
Bob McKittrick, Chairman,Professional Conduct Committee,writes:
The Professional Conduct Committee is responsible for investigating allegations of professional misconduct, criminal convictions, bankruptcies and misrepresentation of membership relating to members. Several issues are referred to the Committee every year and, sadly, many of them relate to complaints from clients about what they perceive as a poor service by structural engineers. There are many reasons for an apparent poor service, but very few of them relate to technical matters; usually they are as a result of misunderstandings and/or poor communications between the engineer and the client. The Committee considered that it would be useful to produce a list of good practice. It is not meant to be anything like exhaustive, and none of what follows is rocket science, but it includes the areas that, had they been covered, would probably have avoided the majority of complaints.
Scope of services:
• It must be comprehensive but clear on what is to be done for the fee together with details of any specific exclusions. If the client is not prepared to accept the scope and/or the exclusions, then be prepared to walk away from the project.
• It should include a programme with dates for completion of major elements, as well as adequate periods of time for the client to consider/accept decisions that he/she has to make.
• It should set out the fee agreement, and a limit of liability on your Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) cover.
• It should be agreed in writing with the client before the work starts.
• The agreed fee (plus VAT) should take account of the complexity of the structure and the services to be provided.
• You should also agree a mechanism for being paid for any work that is later shown not to be covered by the scope of services on which the fee has been based.
• It should be adequate for a professional service to be provided for the agreed scope of services.
• It should cover all your firm’s costs, overheads and expenses, not forgetting the costs of recruitment, training, PII premiums and pensions.
• Should be timely.
• Should be very clear and not leave anything in doubt.
• Should be professional in tone and appearance.
• Should where necessary be firm but always polite.
• Where necessary, the structural engineer should clarify, with the client, his/her relationship with other members of the professional team and any associated recommended suppliers and/or contractors.
• If appointed to review another engineer’s work, the structural engineer should, unless the client instructs otherwise, inform that engineer before proceeding.
• Should be in accordance with the brief which, if necessary, should be restated.
• Should define any technical terms used.
• Should avoid the use of term “structural survey” unless you have specifically priced for giving such advice.
• Should state clearly any caveats and/or any relevant exclusions.
• Should state to whom the drawings/documents/reports are addressed and any restrictions on onward transmission/copying.
• Should avoid issuing any drawings etc until they have been checked and a reference made to such checking in the drawings etc.
• Should include the firm’s name and contact details, the structural engineer’s name, qualifications, signature (for and on behalf of the organization) and the date.