To a Structural Engineer, you may appear to be the most unnecessary piece of business that will simply “sit” in the project and need a little more careful thought. Let’s find out why you need to fully comprehend the basics before you jump into a project.
Structural engineers may make a huge mistake when working with a client; not doing their homework. When a client first expresses interest in engineering work, it should be confirmed by phone. In fact, it is also wise to discuss things like cost, schedule, method of construction, payment structure, and quality guarantee. However, no matter how much one wants to know, things can still go wrong, and there are a lot of cases where a client goes into a project blindfolded, and cannot see the forest for the trees.
While most structural engineers are very detailed oriented, they need to be able to evaluate their clients and try to find the possible pitfalls or areas of concern before entering the project. There will be a certain amount of information that will be presented during the design phase, but many problems do lie under the surface. Here are some of the most common architectural concerns to a Structural Engineer.
Generally, the structural engineer will only focus on the steel and concrete elements of the building. However, if the building includes an environment, the Environmental Specialist should be consulted.
Clients are generally comfortable asking questions and communicating about any design-related issues. However, they can become overwhelmed with a multitude of details that may have nothing to do with the design. This problem should be quickly rectified by a Structural Engineer, and if there is any doubt that there is confusion between the client and structural engineer, it is important to communicate as early as possible so the client does not feel pressured to change the design or change his or her mind.
As a client, you are expected to be in constant communication with your architect. You should not always depend on the architect to relay information about the design to you. The Architect may be holding a meeting for his client, and you may want to know what is happening in the meeting, and while the architect will probably be there, you will most likely be left hanging without any explanation of what is going on.
As the Architect, it is your responsibility to clarify any information that is vague or unclear and to confirm with the Structural Engineer whether a particular issue is of concern. You should ask questions about:
The Architect should be one who listens to your client’s needs and expresses a clear vision of the design. If your architect does not clearly communicate your client’s needs, the client may either think the Architect doesn’t know what is best for him or herself, or that the Architect may be unaware of the client’s needs and does not have any intention of building the design they want.
The Architect and Structural Engineer should ensure that the project meets all legal and building codes and ensures that all permits are provided. It is the Architect’s job to ensure that the client knows exactly what they are getting into, and will be using the architect in any way in regards to the project.
Finally, the Architect will represent the client’s comfort, but the Architect should also be comfortable in discussing technical details related to building permits and requirements. By having a wide knowledge base in order to discuss these elements in detail, the Architect may find it easier to explain them to their client.
The Client will also be happy with the architect if he is able to effectively convey a clear vision to the client. By clearly communicating the project to the client, it will reduce the possibilities of misinterpretation and misunderstanding and will give the client a clear picture of what is expected of him or her.
Remember that an architect can not know every detail in a construction company and that the project has to be designed in the client’s specific way. Regardless of who you end up working with, it is important to be sure that your team is composed of competent professionals.