A great question! This is usually the first question we hear; however it is difficult to answer as most projects are not a “one size fits all” concept. Costs can vary considerably depending on the site constraints, jurisdiction, slopes, wetlands, critical areas, size of project, and so on…
What you need to know about engineering costs and why the ‘greatest deal’ is not the BEST deal:
One of the first steps to developing your project is engineering. The plans that engineers produce for your project will be the guide for the whole development process. Let us start your project off on the right foot!
The best part, an engineer’s fee is probably a lot less than you think. The engineer’s fee is typically only 1% to 5% of the total construction cost, depending on the type of project and scope of work.
Most want to save money on their project, we don’t blame you! We encourage you to save where you can, but engineering fees is not where you want to cut costs. It is our ethic duty to provide safe and efficient designs, we will not design something that is ‘less expensive to build’ if the design will fail.
Contractors often charge less to build an efficient design. This saves money on development costs and allows you to spend your money on an experienced professional engineer.
This is probably the second most asked question about our services. Again, as in the cost of services, the amount of time to complete a project is dependent on the complexity of the project and the many variables of each individual project and site. One large impact on the timing of a project is the level of time that the client participates in the design process. We have found in our many years of experience that a project runs smoothly when a client is proactively involved with the design process by responding quickly and concisely when requests are asked. It is also beneficial when clients take an active approach to providing support and input into the process. This allows us to focus on design and engineering a product that meets your desired needs. As timing can vary based on complexity it is best to meet with one of our professional Managers and discuss your project.
In general timing for a small residential project, can take 1 to 6 weeks. While more complex projects can take months to go through the design process.
***Please note: Our estimate is for the design time; this DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PERMIT REVIEW PROCESS. The permit review jurisdiction process can be lengthy and is dependent on the jurisdiction and how busy they are with permit submittals and should be taken into consideration when scheduling your project.
The basic things we would look at, pending additional specific site questions, are:
Locations of wetlands, streams, etc. (as available through GIS, we will let you know if there is a potential need for an environmental ____ ? )
Feasibility studies can be simple to complex. The simple study will include the items listed above. If you want a very specific direction and roadmap toward whether you can build/develop what you desire on a property, then we suggest the more complex study. The complex study includes more detailed research of the property based on your specific requests, costs, and meetings with the permitting agency. As the permitting processes can vary so highly, it is not possible to know all of the likely permitting challenges before an application is submitted to a permitting agency. A feasibility study is only provided based on the available information and cannot guarantee the outcome or final permitting agency requirements for your project.
The basic things we would look at, pending additional specific site questions, are:
Feasibility studies can be basic to complex and often if you want very specific direction and roadmap toward whether you can build/develop what you desire on a property there will be required feasibility beyond a basic study and will include more detailed studies and costs, along with meetings with the permitting agency. As the permitting processes can vary so highly and it is not possible to fully know all the possible permitting challenges before or during an application is submitted to a permitting agency, a feasibility study is only provided based on the available information and cannot guarantee the outcome or final permitting agency requirements for your project.
We can coordinate directly with your real estate agent and typically include a coordination task in our proposals to allow for this and for communication with other parties you have involved. The time frame varies with our workload, but you should typically expect 2-6 weeks depending on the complexity and the items included in the feasibility review. That said, because we understand that there is a time frame for these types of things, we offer a slightly increased price for an expedited review and we can get it back to you within a week or less from when you pull the trigger on a property.
Critical areas are lands with natural hazards or lands that support certain unique, fragile or valuable resource areas.
Lands designated by most permitting agency’s as critical include areas at high risk for erosion, landslides, earthquakes or flooding; coal mines; or wetlands or lands adjoining streams, rivers and other water bodies.
The Critical Area Code protects critical areas as well as their buffers in order to protect public health and safety, and to promote environmental health in the region. Buffers are areas adjacent to a critical area that are also restricted from specific building and development activities.
When a development proposal occurs near wetlands, lakes, wildlife habitat or streams, an applicant may be asked to provide additional information with the permit application in order to enable the Department of Local Services, Permitting staff to better assess potential impacts the development might have on these critical areas.
Critical Areas on a property will almost always increase the complexity of engineering and permitting of a project on the site, which will directly correlate with increased project design costs.
There are different kinds of critical areas, if your site contains a critical area you will need to take specific precautions and portions of your site will not be buildable. We encourage you to talk to one of our project managers to find out what critical areas you have and how this might affect your specific project.
A “stop work order” is when a permitting agency, such as a City or County, serves you with a letter to stop working on a building due to either working without a permit or working beyond the extents of an approved permit. There are many variables to what is needed to start work again, but most often what we experience is that we will need to prepare a set of as-built plans of existing structure, prepare plans and engineering of proposed construction, site plans, and sometimes land use applications that can be used to submit to the permitting agency. WE DON’T RECOMMEND THAT YOU WORK ON A PROJECT WITHOUT A PERMIT. It has been our experience that it will take twice as much money and time to deal with a stop work order or un-permitted work than to have started with preparing the correct plans, reports, engineering, and documentation upfront.
The amount of time needed to conduct a thorough feasibility study will vary depending on the site and type of project desired. The time needed may also depend on the depth of the feasibility study. Will you be doing a basic feasibility? Or will you be needing to have in depth analysis, reporting, or surveying prior to making a decision to purchase? For single family purchases we would recommend at least 45 days for this feasibility, but 60 days often provides better time to research and produce feasibility documents. For larger projects feasibility studies can range from 60-120 days.
Yes. We will provide a soft copy of plans or reports in an electronic PDF format for your review and use in submitting to a jurisdiction or for your contractors use. If you desire hard copies of the plans, we can provide these at a minimal charge similar to what you would pay if you took plans to a print shop. Fee structure is based on paper size.
First let’s explain what a Geotechnical Report provides. The geotechnical report is a tool provided to communicate site conditions and design and construction recommendations to the site design, building design, storm drainage design and construction personnel. The geotechnical report will provide specific information on subsurface soil, rock, and water conditions.
While the geotechnical report content may vary by project size and producing agency, all geotechnical reports should contain certain basic essential information, including:
Without the use of a geotechnical report, as engineers we will have to make assumptions for the design criteria of the onsite soils. Unfortunately, the building department is usually not willing to recommend design criteria for the soil thus leaving the engineer to assume code minimum criteria apply. Code minimums are often very conservative and may increase construction costs significantly.
By deciding not to obtain a geotechnical report, clients are ultimately assuming responsibility for any adverse soil conditions that may be encountered. They also assume the risk for any resulting defects in the structure that are related to such soil conditions.
Geotechnical concerns including expansive soils, potential for erosion, bedrock, soils with a high liquefaction potential, a high water table, frost heave potential, and more. These could significantly increase the project costs if they are discovered during construction. Typically, the client bears all additional engineering or construction costs incurred as a result.
Most permitting agency’s are starting to require a geotechnical report in almost all circumstances and types of projects.
At Beyler we do not perform geotechnical analyses but feel that these reports are the best method for determining the properties of the onsite soil and recommend a geotechnical report for every project if financially feasible.