Structural Engineer San Antonio: Choosing the Right Structural Engineer
There seems to be a lot of confusion in the general public about who to call or what Engineer to hire should you have a particular problem. We have tried to answer these questions both in explaining what a Structural Engineer does, as well as When to use a Structural Engineer. However, we have found that even within the Field of Structural Engineering, many people also need guidance on how to choose the correct Structural Engineer. In this article we will try to inform you on the several qualities, licenses, etc. that a Structural Engineer should have in order to provide the best possible solutions and service to your project. Most commercial clients are very well aware of Structural Engineers so our target audience in this article is the Residential clients.
Licensed to Practice Structural Engineering
The first and most important thing to do when looking for a Licensed Structural Engineer is just that, to make sure that in fact the Engineer being hired is a structural. Most Engineers in the residential side are not structural engineers but civil or mechanical Engineers. Since residential construction is not as well regulated as commercial construction then many engineers who are not structural engineers will offer their service to the public.
The first thing to know if someone is in fact a structural engineer is to check online with the Texas Board of Professional Engineers (www.tbpe.state.tx.us/search.php) and type in the name of the engineer or engineers you’re trying to do business with. You should see STR as the licensed type, which stands for Structural type of license
Sometimes an engineer may in fact be licensed to practice structural engineering, but the company this engineer works for is a company who primarily provides civil or mechanical engineering services, or even just foundation services. A company who’s primarily line of business is not structural engineering cannot possibly provide a better service and opinion than a company who’s primarily line of business is nothing but structural engineering.
Engineers have the proper college education
Not all Engineering schools are accredited. An accredited school is a school that is approved by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers and therefore graduates from such an Engineering school will go on to become eligible to take the Licensing Exam after four years of experience. There are only a handful of Engineering Schools who have such an accreditations (www.abet.org/AccredProgramSearch/AccreditationSearch.aspx). In San Antonio, the only school accredited for Structural Engineering is the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Nowadays, anyone seeking a professional license must take the Engineering Licensing exam. However, up to 2006, anyone who was not a graduate from an accredited school was allowed to just receive a license –no college or exam required- if that person had at least 12 years of experience. You’re reading right, as long as that person had 12 years of experience then a professional engineering license was just handed to him, no matter if the experienced meant 12 years of designing light poles, that person would become a licensed engineer in structural engineering. There are many engineers who have obtain a licensed just in this way. How confident are you in hiring an structural engineer who has no education or has education from a non-accredited school and his qualifications for licensing have not been tested?
Right Quality of Structural Engineering Experience
Many Engineers have a good amount of experience, but the question is, do they have the right quality experience? If a structural engineer has been designing houses in Florida for 30 years, how can he claim he has 30 yrs experience when he is designing a foundation in San Antonio, TX? Or how can an Engineer who’s been designing nothing but Foundations claim enough experience to design a building? Even, how can someone who’s being doing something specific within structural engineering, such as foundation design, claim to have years and years of experience, if all those years this engineer has been designing foundations that do not meet the building code. Therefore, quality experience in the field of structural engineering is priceless.
Sells Structural Engineering services based on Quality of Service and not on Price Alone
In the residential construction and sometimes in commercial construction, many times a Structural Engineer is selected solely based on price. There are some things Structural Engineers do that are pretty standard, such as foundation inspections. However, when you hire a Structural Engineer you are hiring a consultant. The job of a consultant who happens to be a structural Engineer is to help you designing a safe structure, but also help you in designing an economical structure.
The more time Structural Engineers spend on a construction project then the cheaper the construction cost will be, because the Engineer has had enough time to design and think things through. If the fee you are paying a structural engineer is low, then the Structural Engineer will generally care only for designing a safe structure and will leave the economy part a distant second. The few hundred dollars that a client saves on a structural engineer will cost him thousands in construction cost.
The other issue with hiring the cheapest structural engineer is that you’re probably going to get someone who’s really not qualified for the project. You literally get what you pay for.
Is there an independent agency collecting customer reviews?
Structural Engineering firms have a good share of repeat clients, so when asked for references from previous projects it’s natural they will refer you to satisfied clients only. It’s important to have unbiased opinions from independent agencies that collect reviews which do not receive payment from these engineering companies to receive feedback from customers. One of such popular agencies is ServiceMagic.com or Angie's list, which collects reviews from customers. Such a service is more reliable than Yahoo and Google because the reviews collected are from verified clients.