Building Design & Engineering

Questions to Ask Prospective Design Professionals

(Engineer, Architect, Building Designer) for Your Project 
 
When searching for a design professional to assist you with your next project, there are a few questions you should ask them in advance of signing any contracts or providing them any retainers. After all, your project may be one of the biggest investments / expenditures you will make in your lifetime. Don’t make the same mistake many people make by spending more time researching their next car, hairstyle or internet service provider than they do ...

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What is a CEPE?

A CEPE is a Certified Energy Plans Examiner.  A CEPE must pass a test given by the California Association of Building Energy Consultants demonstrating their knowledge of the California Energy Standards.  Building department plan checkers, building inspectors, and those people who do energy calculations can take the Residential Standards and/or Non-Residential Standards test.  The test is not mandatory in California at this time, but only a CEPE can prepare energy calculations required to get rebates through the New Solar ...

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What is Structural Observation?

Structural Observation is defined as the visual observation of the structural system by a registered design professional for the general conformance to the approved construction documents at significant construction stages and at completion of the structural system. Structural observation does not include or waive the responsibility for the inspections required by CBC section 108, 1701 or other sections of the code.

When structural observation is required it is ultimately the responsibility of the owner to ensure that it is provided. It ...

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What is a Geotechnical Report?

The geotechnical report is a tool used to communicate the site conditions and design and construction recommendations to the site design, building design, and construction personnel. Site investigations for building design projects have the purpose of providing specific information on subsurface soil, rock, and water conditions. Interpretation of the site investigation information, by a geotechnical engineer, results in design and construction recommendations that should be presented in a project geotechnical report.

The information contained in this report is referred to often ...

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Why do I Need an Engineer?

A lender provides you with the financial means to fund your building project. A building designer or an architect paint you a picture of it. A good contractor makes the project a reality. The building inspector helps to ensure it complies with the approved plan set.
 
Where does the engineer fit in the picture? What exactly do they do? We all know they like to carry calculators, sit in front of the computer all day and read ...

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How Much Does an Engineer Charge for their Services?

An engineer’s fee is likely the smallest of all of those involved throughout the course of your project.
 
According to HSH Associates, your lender will charge anywhere from 4% – 14% of your loan amount to fund your project (based on historical data). The architect will require nearly the same, 4.5% – 16% (includes engineering) of your construction cost (according to the 1996 Means Construction Cost Index, or MCCI ), to provide you with a design concept. ...

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What is the Difference Between an Architect and an Engineer?

Building designer, architect, civil engineer, structural engineer… who are the various players involved in the design of your project and what qualifications do they possess? This answer varies depending on what state and / or local jurisdiction your project is in, but the following information is generally applicable. 
 
Professional boards for the state of California have published documents that explain who has the authority to design buildings (Building Design Authority). Adobe’s freely available Acrobat Reader is ...

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