Thursday 17 January 2013

Details Count

When people undertake a project to make their home into something that they have always dreamt about, they usually begin with magazines to give design ideas. It is important for the Architect to fully understand the vision and requirements of the client, and that extends to the role of the Structural Engineer too.

It’s no good just designing something ugly with no regard for aesthetics. The client will have to look and live within this environment for a long time to come, and I personally have no intention of spoiling this idyllic dream.

I see lots of cases where calculations are prepared by Structural Engineers accompanied by a freehand sketch with a felt pen line to represent a beam. It just isn’t good enough. It illustrates that the Structural Engineer just can’t be bothered.

I am constantly asked to provide quotations for work, and I go to great lengths to explain that my documents will provide proper considered working drawings (please see my examples), with connection details and a full explanation of how things go together. This will provide the client with full knowledge of what they will see in their finished home, together with providing information regarding connection fabrications for the contractor to price, so that there can be no arguments about unexpected costs for unforeseen problems and expenses. This cannot be provided by a felt pen dashed line on the back of a crumpled piece of scrap paper.

Unforeseen expenses such as these can run into hundreds of pounds, sometimes thousands, so it is much wiser to have a professional and comprehensive package of documents, including proper drawings, at the outset to avoid these hidden costs and delays when the project is under construction and the client being held to ransom.

Why risk it all for the sake of the price of a lintel? For too long Structural Engineers have failed to engage with the client’s vision and help it become a reality by caring enough for the aesthetics of the structural elements. It just isn’t good enough. The role of the Structural Engineer is to care as much about the detail as if it were their own home.

When asking for quotations, please ensure that you ask for examples of the package that you will receive in return, and make sure you are comparing like for like. RID Struthers Ltd provides PI insurance for £2 million, so you know you are protected. Your home is usually the most important purchase of all. Don’t risk it.

Please don’t think that all Structural Engineers provide the same level of service, because that is far from being the case, and always check for insurance.

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