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What does your engineer actually do for you?

  • 10-01-2023 5:49pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 195 ✭✭


    We are in the middle of our house extension/renovation and I must say I'm very disappointed at what services my engineer actually seems to provide. Our architect drew up the main plans and then he involved an engineer for the structural drawings. The engineer is acting as Supervisor for the construction. The extensions is 84 sq m and contain 3 structural timber beams, and 3 steel beams. It is a rectangle box with no complex design elements and he charged €4500 for his services. I was always under the impression an engineer would be on hand to offer guidance and make sure the builder isn't taking shortcuts and be able to provide general advice on how to achieve certain goals. That is what my parents told me their engineer did for them when they built a house about 10 years ago.

    My engineer seems to know absolutely feck all about building. He knows how to do calculations for the steel and concrete strength and that's about it. Almost everything else is "an issue for the architect". We are no longer working with the architect but I'm just flabbergasted at how little the engineer seems to do for the money he has charged. Luckily my builder is not a cowboy but I really am struggling to see the value that the engineer is providing. Every time I've asked him something I get a distinct impression that he is going to google the answer as I would. We redid the floors in the old part of the house and I wanted to know what way he would recommend it be done. He didn't seem to know the methods available for building floors. What is his purpose exactly? To me, it just seems like ridiculously easy money with little or nothing added to the build aside from overspecifying the strength of steel everywhere as the steel beams look absolutely gigantic.

    What was your experience with your engineer during the building process? Were my parents just lucky that their engineer was A. interested and B. willing to help?



Comments

  • Subscribers Posts: 40,551 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat


    The engineer is acting as Supervisor for the construction

    is this enacted in a contract?

    there is a huge difference between a 'supervisor' and an 'inspector' and this is a common mistaken assumption that clients make during a build.

    is the engineer providing a certificate of compliance with building regulations at the end?



  • Registered Users Posts: 38,816 ✭✭✭✭Mellor


    What does the contract say his services are? Was there a breakdown of the fee? In stages, hours etc

    Sounds like you engaged a structural engineer for structural engineering drawings and inspections.

    My engineer seems to know absolutely feck all about building. He knows how to do calculations for the steel and concrete strength and that's about it.

    That pretty much what structural engineering is. They design and detail the structural elements. That’s all.

    I was always under the impression an engineer would be on hand to offer guidance and make sure the builder isn't taking shortcuts and be able to provide general advice on how to achieve certain goals. That is what my parents told me their engineer did for them when they built a house about 10 years ago.

    Many ”Engineers” offer those services on residential builds, there’s a low barrier to entry. To the extent that it has created a misconception about engineering. But it’s not part of discipline they studied.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,010 ✭✭✭onrail


    As mentioned above, whether you have a right to have issue with the scope of services the engineer is providing is very much dependent on the 'contract' you have with them - don't worry about formal documentation, even a brief description in an email would help. Whether you were 'under the impression' that the engineer would provide certain services is neither here nor there.

    I'm a Chartered Civil Engineer and know very little about some of the intricacies of domestic house building, but I can tell you whether a beam is structurally sound, or whether a dam is at risk of collapsing.



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