Is your business in the beginning stages of planning a major project? Here are ten questions to interview potential structural engineers and make sure  you hire a reputable company. 

What specific field do you specialize in?

Does your potential structural engineer specialize in residential or commercial building? State and local codes for each are different, so it’s important they are familiar with your specific type of project. Find their website and look at their “Our Services” or similar to see exactly what work they do. 

What projects have you completed?

The projects the firm has completed can serve as a good indication of how they service their clients. Do they focus on residential, short-term projects, or more involved long-term projects that require detailed reporting and monitoring? It would be a good idea to call them and ask for references from previous projects so you can get an idea of their scope of work and capabilities.

Are you aware of local code requirements?

Construction requirements change frequently. Ensure the firm you are researching is up-to-date on all local and state building codes. This will alleviate a lot of headaches during your project. 

How do you collaborate with other contractors on the project?

Ensure the firm can work alongside any builders or contractors you would prefer to hire for your project. When checking references, find out how timely the structural engineer is at replying to emails or returning calls. See what hours they are available including after hours and weekends. Also, check to see what their holiday hours are if your project will overlap a holiday. The last thing you want is contractors to be awaiting input from your structural engineer. 

How do you invoice projects?

Request a letter outlining the structural engineer’s fees. Also, ask for a quote in advance of any work. If you have already defined the majority of the scope of your project, ask for a fixed design fee. Throughout your project, be leery of unexpected charges that arise and question them. Check to see how the firm typically expects payment. Do they require payment before releasing their final product, or do they set up accounts?

What are your qualifications?

Ask to meet with whomever your likely point of contact would be for your project to discuss their background and qualifications. You should feel comfortable communicating with this person and in their ability. 

Does the structural engineer understand the scope of the project?

Request confirmation that they understand the scope of work, their involvement in it,  deliverables, and expected deadlines. 

Can you provide proof of insurance?

Structural engineers need to carry some level of liability insurance. Don’t be afraid to ask for a copy or other proof of coverage. It should be up-to-date and cover the type of work your project entails. 

Do you have any repeat clients?

Repeat clients is a good indication of a structural engineer’s trustworthiness and work ethic. Review project types as well to assure they match the scope of work you are looking for. For instance, repeat residential clients may not signal an understanding of commercial project knowledge..

Do you have references we can contact?

Reputation matters, and if you ask around in your community you will find out pretty quickly how your potential structural engineer is perceived. In addition to talking to other clients, check the company’s online reviews for an unaudited look at their abilities.