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How to Hire a Consulting Engineer

The Importance Of Good Design

Click here to download our QBS selection guide, "How to Select A Design Professional", in Adobe Acrobat Reader format.

It is no exaggeration to say that the most important ingredient of any construction project is its design. The quality of design is the single most important factor in determining a project's "life-cycle cost" - the initial cost of construction, plus the ongoing costs for operation and maintenance.

Design is one of the very first steps in the construction process, but it dictates everything that follows: the size and layout of the facility; type of construction materials; capacity of mechanical and electrical systems; energy efficiency; and other factors. Not even the best contractor using the finest of construction materials can overcome the failings of a poor design.

Professional design services - engineering, architecture or surveying - represent only a small percentage of the construction budget, and a far smaller percentage of life-cycle cost, so it makes sound economic sense to ensure your consulting engineer has the experience and qualifications needed to deliver a high-quality design.

Qualifications-Based Selection (QBS) is a process that enables the project owner to obtain the services of a highly qualified engineering professional at a fair and reasonable cost, an investment in quality that will result in substantial savings over the life of the project.

Why is the hiring of a design professional to design a project any different from hiring a general contractor to construct a project?

As a Purchasing Agent or project Owner, don't I have a responsibility to get the most I can for the least amount of money spent, or an obligation when purchasing goods or services with public dollars to see that the lowest price is obtained, you may ask? Why is the likelihood of the success of a project reduced simply because the services of the design professional for the project are obtained through the price bidding process?

Design professionals do not sell a commodity, but rather their knowledge. Architectural, engineering, and land surveying design work is a highly skilled and personally distinctive service. Because of this, design encourage owners to select them on the basis of their experience and qualifications to do the work.

ACEC OKLHOMA is pleased to provide a manual for use by owners (both public and private) which explains, in detail, how to select and retain a consulting professional engineer or other "design professional" (architect or professional land surveyor) using the QBS process. While the primary purpose of this manual is to assist cities, villages, townships, school boards and other "public authorities," private construction owners can reap the same benefits from the use of QBS. Throughout this manual, the terms "owner" and "public authority" are used interchangeably to refer to public construction project owners.

For more information about ACEC OKLAHOMA, please contact or call (405) 525-7696.

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