Best business practices for working with engineers

Published On: September 29, 2017

Mike Sullaway, principal engineer, president and owner of Sullaway Engineering Inc. in San Diego, Calif., presented a campfire session “Working with Engineers” at IFAI Expo 2017 in New Orleans, La. Throughout the presentation, Sullaway offered tips and advice on the best ways to go about working on a project with an engineer.

How to find your engineer:

  • Referrals. Look for projects similar to the one on your agenda and then begin networking.
  • Google. Use key words to see what firms are located within your region.
  • Contact your local Chamber of Commerce for a list of engineers and their credentials.
  • Connect with associations (ATA, American Society of Civil Engineers, etc.).

How to qualify your engineer:

  • Check with your city government to see if the work you are planning needs a consent or if it will conflict with any local bylaws.
  • Determine the type of engineer you will need (structural, geotechnical, civil engineer, etc.).
  • Inquire about licenses the engineer holds.
  • Ask for the engineer’s professional portfolio and samples of completed work.

How to partner with your engineer:

  • Communicate what you want and look for an engineer who is committed and not just interested in a one-time project.
  • Review the engineering firm’s policies and procedures.
  • Define the scope of the project.
  • Discuss contracts. Include simple agreements for multiple applications and/or more comprehensive agreements for substantial engagements.