Find an Engineering Company
For best value, ACEC British Columbia recommends that clients select a consulting engineer based on qualifications and not price. Consulting engineers design and provide management services for large expenditure items, such as buildings, roads, environmental services and land use planning. When a client wants to be successful, choosing the right services from the best engineering expertise should be the primary consideration.
Studies have shown that engineering typically represents 1.5% of the total cost of a project, while construction costs represent 16.5% of the total cost, and operations are 82% of the total cost. By hiring a consulting engineer at the beginning of the project, good design can cut 10-15% of construction costs - and more in life cycle costs. It is through engineering services that a client has the best opportunity to manage and potentially reduce the remaining 98.5% of the project's life cycle costs.
Qualification based selection means selection according to:
- Technical competence
- Managerial ability
- Experience on similar projects
- Dedicated personnel available for the project's duration
- Proven performance
- Location and/or local knowledge
- Professional independence and integrity
The project size influences the selection method. Projects can be divided into small, medium and large measured by their fee value. Their boundaries are a matter of judgement depending on the business sector concerned, the frequency of contracts awarded, the size of the client or project and the size of companies operating in that sector. For example, a small project might be defined in the municipal sector as being up to $50,000, medium $50,000-$200,000 and large over $200,000. In the transportation sector however, a small project may be up to $100,000 and large over $1 million.
Small projects should be kept simple and should be sole sourced. Consultants are often retained based on referrals and general reputation. To find the best consultant, ACEC British Columbia recommends seeking referrals from comparable clients, and obtaining references.
Medium Projects should have a detailed Terms of Reference presented to a maximum number of four consultants who have performed similar assignments. Further details are outlined in the ACEC-BC/APEGBC publication Budget Guidelines for Consulting Engineering Services and the InfraGuide Best Practice for Selecting a Professional Consultant.
Large projects definitely need a Two Envelope System for selection. Based on the Terms of Reference outline, project owners should request a submission for credentials. At this initial stage, they should expect ten or more submissions. From these submissions, the owner should request proposals from a maximum of four consultants, based on the detailed Terms of Reference. Further details are outlined in the ACEC-BC/APEGBC publication Budget Guidelines for Consulting Engineering Services and the InfraGuide Best Practice for Selecting a Professional Consultant.
To successfully engage a consulting engineer, ACEC British Columbia recommends the use of the standard agreements found in the Resources section of the web site.
The online Directory of Member Firms can be used to learn more about ACEC British Columbia member companies, and to search by fields of specialization/experience.
For projects of smaller scope, the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) provides an online Discrete Scope Projects Directory. The DSP Directory provides information about Engineers who have expressed willingness to take on smaller assignments.