Engineers have a role in cost management too

Engineers, and there are a lot of them!, are an important part of any building’s design… making sure they don’t fall down, don’t get too hot or too cold and that the lights come on just right!

And, they have a huge impact on cost.

Services Engineers… and budgets

Architects, be sure your services engineers are as well briefed as you are.  Their $ component of the building works may be equal to, or even exceed, the architectural content (i.e. mechanical, electrical, communications & fire components may sometimes be 30-50% of the project cost – plus then there is the cost of the structural engineer’s design and particular needs).

Your engineers need to know if there are budget restraints to consider.

For example:

  • On a new office & small laboratory building, the cost of the mechanical, electrical, communications & fire services was over $650,000.  This was 30.3% of the Contract Sum;
  • On a university refurbishment & fit out project, the cost of the mechanical, electric, lift & fire services was a huge 8% of the Contract Sum;
  • And on a new laboratory project, the cost of the mechanical, electrical, lift & fire services was nearly $2.3m – 32.4% of the Contract Sum.

The Architect should not be the only one expected to make changes (and compromises if needed) to keep a project on budget.

Note also: Services Engineers sometimes provide budgets for the cost of their part of the works. You should review these estimates and get the engineers to review their estimates regularly.  If the design and scope of works change and the engineer’s estimates don’t change, I suggest you have a good long hard look at the value of the numbers provided.

Other engineers

Discuss the design and budget with your structural engineer, access consultant and your Building Surveyor as well, and confirm all assumptions – their advice (especially very early advice!) and design input will have a huge impact on design and cost.

Importantly: Ensure they make a site visit! Incorrect assumptions may lead to over-design or expensive variations during construction and extra expenses.

Consider also, where appropriate, the impact of advice from:

  • Disability Access consultants, and also
  • Occupational Health and Safety advice,
  • As well as any other consultants or advisors your client may be dealing with separately (for example audio visual or security).

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