A Q&A with Jeff Schug
Partner and Transportation Team Leader at McClure Engineering Company
At what point in planning for a development project should an engineering firm get involved?
Ideally, you want to get an engineering firm involved once you hit the point where you are actually searching for the site. An engineer can provide insights on how access is going to be gained from the main roadways and will understand the city’s requirements for those access points. They can also help you understand the utilities that are available or what it would take to bring utilities to that site if needed. Having an engineer on hand from the start can ensure that you haven’t selected a site that isn’t ready to be developed yet or can’t be developed for the intended use.
What factors should be considered by a developer prior to selecting an engineering firm?
You want to find someone who is experience with development work. A lot of engineers do some development work on the side, but if you are working on a commercial development project, it is probably best to have an engineering firm who has more specialized experience with commercial development work.
These types of projects go beyond the civil components and truly have a site component that can affect the project budget. An engineer with the right experience can ensure that you understand all of the costs of the project up front.
How does an engineering firm help you work with a city to ensure a successful project?
Most of the engineering firms that are qualified to do this type of work probably already have a good relationship with the city you’re working in. They already know the city staff and what they are looking for. They’ll know how to work with them to address issues and solve problems.
What are the most common mistakes clients make during the planning phase, and what is recommended to avoid it?
I believe it is important to work with both a realtor and an engineer when selecting a site for your project. The relator will have an understanding of the existing business and potential future business surrounding the site and how those businesses could impact yours. The engineer can assist with understanding the utility services that exist and what needs must be met to make the project a reality.
How has technology advanced to make working with an engineering firm a more seamless process for developers?
At McClure Engineering we have a sophisticated electronic system for communication with all parties. The system offers the engineer, developers and contractors the ability to review things like the project timeline, project plans and other information vital to the project.
In addition to engineering firms using technology, most cities are using now their own online systems for communications between the city and the engineering firm involved with the project.