The Structural & Mechanical Engineering Design Process
Structural & Mechanical Engineering design is the process of creating a solution based on a project brief provided by the client and preparing instructions to construct the solution. During this process, the design contractor must account for factors such as aesthetics, climate, regulations, and budget. These teams will generally include an architect and several engineers.
Typically, the building design process has three steps:
- Schematic Design
- Design Development
- Construction Documentation
During schematic design, the team will begin workshopping concepts, determining feasible solutions, and taking the first steps to bring the client’s vision to life. Design development will then refine the ideas that the team landed on in the schematic design phase, finalizing the plans to the client’s specifications.
Once everyone is satisfied, the design team will begin the construction documentation step, consolidating all the designs and technical specifications in order for the construction process to begin. At this point, the team may also seek out any necessary permits for the project to proceed.
Having a detailed building structure design is highly beneficial to construction management. In addition to allowing the general contractors to more easily secure the required permits, the design allows for better planning, more accurate cost predictions, and more open communication.
Structural & Mechanical Engineering Design Advantages & Benefits
When it comes to structural & mechanical engineering design, there are two different processes used most often: Design-Build and Design-Bid-Build.
The Design-Build process usually hires a single individual or party, the design/builder, to conduct both the design and construction phases under a single contract. The actual design & construction of the project-at-hand may be performed by the individual/party itself or subcontracted to other companies. The design-build process requires intense levels of cooperation between the design & construction practices.
For the Design-Bid-Build process (which is the most common process in the construction industry), a design company create the plans for a building and then has a construction company bid for the build contract. Design is much more cohesive and streamlined, and the design team consults directly with the project owner to create a satisfactory building design. The owner will then bring this design to several general contractors for bidding and will select the bidder that best suits the project’s budget and creative vision. The chosen bidder will construct the design.
There is a multitude of advantages to this method of construction design. Some of the most significant benefits include:
- Straightforward process
- Greater client control
- Beginner friendliness
Due to the fact that this structural & engineering design delivery method involves very little collaboration between the design team and construction management, it is significantly easier to keep track of design changes throughout the beginning of the process. Having a clear design before construction begins drastically simplifies the process and reduces the chances of unforeseen difficulties.
Since the project owner is able to choose the bidder that best suits their needs, it is much easier to stay within the desired budget. Rather than accumulating unexpected costs throughout the construction process, customers who have a clear design in advance can expect significantly more accurate price estimates. This is due to the fact that the general contractor can examine the building structure design before taking on the project and will have a good sense of the costs involved.
Greater Client Control
Structural & mechanical engineering design enables the owner to be a much more active participant in the design process, working collaboratively with the experienced design team in order to turn their vision into a reality. Since construction will not begin until after the design is complete, this also ensures that the owner will be able to have full confidence in the design before spending money to hire general contractors.
The design-bid-build delivery method is very linear, with little to no overlap between each step. This means that from design through to completion, this process is easy to predict. Having a detailed building construction plan enables construction management to provide accurate timelines and cost estimates and create realistic schedules.
This, in turn, makes it much easier for the owner to plan and budget, and creates a more efficient process that is less stressful for everyone involved. As this construction design delivery method is one of the most common, almost all general contractors will be very familiar with the process, which will help construction proceed efficiently.
Due to its linear, predictable nature, this type of construction design is ideal for clients with little background in construction or design. Regardless of design expertise, all clients will benefit from a close, collaborative relationship with an experienced design contractor.
How to Select a Mechanical & Structural Engineering Design Contractor
Creating an optimal design is a complex process that requires the design contractors to account for a range of factors, from owner specifications to construction limitations and local climate. Choosing the right design team is vital for a successful and satisfying project. There are a number of steps a client can take to ensure they are hiring the best team for their needs.
Confirm their Design Capabilities
It’s a good idea to peruse the website and portfolio of your potential companies and ensure they have the design capabilities you’re looking for. This likely includes:
- New Structural Designs
- Existing Structural Design Modifications
- Specialty Designs
- Mechanical Engineering Designs
- 2D and 3D CAD Services
A good design contractor will have a history of happy customers. Due to the personal nature of construction design, it is vital for the customer and design contractor to have compatible goals and visions. When choosing which design team to work with, a customer should look for a team with a history of communicating openly and working collaboratively with clients throughout the design process.
Seek Out Designers with Creative Portfolios
While a design contractor may be friendly and professional, it is also important not to overlook the value of creativity. If the design team’s portfolio is filled with projects that all look the same, this may indicate an unwillingness to work collaboratively and adapt to each customer’s unique needs. Instead, customers should seek out designers with diverse portfolios.
Consider the Project Scope and Budget
The ideal construction design contractor will be confident working within the desired specifications and budget. Before selecting a designer, be sure to discuss the project’s scope to ensure that they can fulfill these needs.
With over 130 collective years of engineering and design experience, our team of experts is dedicated to building strong client relationships and providing sustainable, progressive designs to our customers. To work with us on your next construction design project, contact us, or request a quote today.