How much does it cost to hire a civil engineer? Obviously it depends, but for a more deeper discussion on the matter, please browse through the various blog subjects, wherein I do give a ballpark estimate for that particular subject.
Do I need a building permit? Short answer is, probably. The engineer (or building dept) will tell you definitively, but generally speaking, the answer is yes. This preserves protection on your behalf to A) ensure it was designed and built to current codes, and B) protect you down the line when it’s time to sell.
Do you do the construction? NO. I merely perform the design and provide the professionally signed and sealed plans (and/or structural calculations). BUT, I can recommend and coordinate the hiring of a reputable qualified contractor to perform the work.
Are you a surveyor; what does a surveyor do? No, civil engineers are not surveyors, nor can they perform those services. However, many projects DO necessitate the expertise of a surveyor and we can/do partner with several surveying firms for the right fit. Projects typically requiring survey are site plans, retaining walls, drainage issues, and septics. READ MORE...
Are you an architect? Again no, civil engineers cannot prepare architectural plans, although we do utilize them in conjunction with our site plans. The generalized difference between the two occupations is that architects create the design of a structure with considerations to form, aesthetics, atmosphere, character, and spatial functionality. They are artists in that sense. Civil engineers bring that design to life with safe construction means, methods, and materials. They ensure the structural integrity of the design. Quite often there is blurred overlap when it comes to residential architecture, but the truth is an engineer is ethically obligated to refrain from affixing his/her title block to any architectural designs, and this very specifically includes floor plans. However, the engineer can use plans prepared by the homeowner IF a statement is included on the plan to that affect.
What does it mean to sign and seal a drawing? A signature and raised/embossed seal is a visual commitment by the individual, signifying responsibility (and yes, liability) of the content of the drawing. It also certifies that the plan has been prepared by him/her OR under their direct supervision, otherwise known as responsible charge. The signature and seal attests the plan meets the standards of care in exercising engineering judgement and decisions, and is a mark of reliance as to the high standards of knowledge, skill, and ethical conduct. Incidentally, it does not ensure correctness; merely that the engineer has exercised professional judgement in the design.
Now what then is “rubber stamping” a drawing?
You’ll note above the criteria of “responsible charge.” An engineer who has NOT had direct supervision or designed the plan themselves, and merely affixes their signature and seal, is committing a punishable act known as rubber stamping. This is the practice of certain builders, contractors, developers, or other engineers who attempt to have certain construction documents “legitimized” with a seal of a licensed professional, having been prepared by an unlicensed individual. It is illegal. Do not do this or ask your contractor to do this. And understand when an engineer responds that they cannot seal the plans you might have that were prepared by another firm and subsequently the relationship soured before they sealed the drawings. An ethical engineer will run from that scenario.