Generally, a consulting engineer is retained when there is a specific project to be addressed, or where specialist expertise is needed to examine a particular opportunity or problem. Consulting engineers are also engaged to supplement in-house staff resources when the work at hand exceeds their capacity or range of expertise.
They may be engaged to:
- assist with the planning needed to increase the output or efficiency of operations;
- conduct assessments of the technical and economic feasibility of a capital project;
- develop conceptual designs and capital cost estimates for setting of budgets;
- optimize component or system performance in existing or planned facilities;
- develop new products, production facilities, structures, or systems;
- assist in dispute resolution or advocacy through condition assessment, expert witness, site and environmental impact assessment.
Consulting engineers can make a valuable contribution to projects at all stages of development, from determining and defining the scope and setting preliminary budgets, through to commissioning of the completed works.
They have a valuable role to fill in:
- concept development, preliminary, and detailed design;
- providing the cost estimates for capital budgets, and the documentation needed to assist in securing financing;
- assembling essential site information in the way of site services, geotechnical information for assessment of underground conditions and topographic features;
- preparation of preliminary and detailed design documents and progressively more accurate cost estimates as the level of definition of the project increases;
- preparation of tender documents and negotiating contracts for construction or other;
- providing construction management services or managing construction contracts through to completion of the work, representing the owner’s interests during the course of construction;
- and managing the commissioning of the operating systems of the project to prove functional performance of all components prior to paying out the contractor(s) responsible.