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FAQ's...

We've heard these questions from people.  If you don't see your question please contact us for a personal answer.  Don't be afraid.......we're here to help!


General Info:

What does P.E. stand for?
What does a Professional Engineer do?
How can hiring a Professional help my project?
What's the difference between an Architect, designer, draftsman, Structural Engineer, Professional Engineer and an Architectural Engineer?
How much does an Architectural Engineer cost and how much does it take to design a building?

Who?
Who can design a building?

What / Where?
Do you use Green Building practices?
What areas do you serve?

Why?
Why is the design process even necessary?  I just want to design it as I go!
Why do I need "engineering?"
Why do engineers over-design everything?

More Questions?
Don't see your question?  Get it answered here.



General Info:

What does P.E. stand for?
P.E. stands for Professional Engineer.  A Professional Engineer is licensed by each state as a professional.  Professionals (doctors, attorneys, accountants, architects and engineers) are distinctly different from other occupations.  A professional must complete extensive formal training and learning requirements, complete a qualifying examination process, adhere to a code of ethics, complete continuing education requirements, safeguard life, health and property and a professional also has a duty to promote the public welfare through social responsibility and integrity.  All this obligates professionals to conduct themselves honorably and with a high level of integrity. 

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What does a Professional Engineer do?
 
A good Professional Engineer helps his clients achieve their goals and dreams by providing the technical expertise to develop a design that is safe, will stand up to the elements and achieves the projects goals through the most cost effective method available.  A Professional Engineer should be part of a team (owner, architect or designer, engineer and contractor), not just someone involved in order to get a permit. 

A good Professional Engineer is more than a technician that sizes members or puts lines on paper.  There is value in what a Professional Engineer does or can do if allowed by the client.  Consideration should be given to an enormous number of influences that affect a design.  Technical challenges, items such as choice of materials, cost constraints, time constraints, sophistication constraints, site constraints, etc., need to be identified, evaluated and resolved to achieve the desired result.  All this takes knowledge, experience and good judgment.  A qualified Professional Engineer should be able to bring all these qualities to the team. 

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How can hiring a Professional help my project? 
Many people in the "industry" seem to think that hiring a licensed Professional Engineer is unnecessary and a waste of time and money.  Well, this is factually not true if the Professional Engineer is given the opportunity to help.  To bring the engineer on board after things have been decided positions the engineer as a “necessary evil” who is needed just to get the permit. The "good" he can bring to a project is very limited. 

But if allowed, Chris can bring his diverse experience to your project and actually help and not just be a cog.  In his experience he has observed many projects where things were completed that were didn't have to be.  Some things were considered desirable while others were not required and only cost the owner and/or contractor money. 

Construction is inherently riddled with problems and potential problems.  The decisions made during the design and construction process will have an impact on the owner for years.  Chris can help sort things out and provide workable solutions.  And he brings a fresh and objective point of view to the process.  Check out the services offered, both before and after construction and the contact usWe can help!

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What's the difference between an Architect, designer, draftsman, Structural Engineer, Professional Engineer and an Architectural Engineer?

An Architect is someone who is professionally licensed by each State to provide Architectural services.  Many are self described artists which is fine and needed on certain types of projects.  Each Architect is different and provides a varying level of service that may or may not include things like Civil Engineering, Surveying, Structural Engineering, MEP (Mechanical / Electrical / Plumbing) Engineering, interior design services, material selection services, Contract Administration and Construction Observation services within his/her fee structure.  The type of services included in their contract with you depends on their level of expertise and their own comfort level. 

A designer is someone who is unlicensed but is usually knowledgeable about building design or the building trade to at least some degree.  This can include people like builders, contractors, unlicensed architects, draftsman who also "design", people who just want to design, engineers, etc.  Anyone can be a designer as there are no licensing or training requirements.  There are however, limits on the types of buildings a designer can legally work on.  See below

A draftsman is someone who is skilled at presenting someone else's design.

A Structural Engineer (SE) is someone who is professionally licensed by a State as a Structural Engineer (SE).  This license is above and beyond a Professional Engineer (PE) license and allows the SE to work on all types of structures.  Many States do not have or require this level of licensure.

A Professional Engineer (PE) is someone who is professionally licensed by a State, typically as a Civil Engineer in the building industry.  This license allows the PE to work on all "non-essential facilities" as described by each State (generally less than 4 stories but no hospitals, fire stations, etc.).

An Architectural Engineer is someone who is trained in all aspects of building science (architecture, foundations, structures, MEP - mechanical electrical and plumbing systems, lighting, acoustics) and typically gets licensed as a Professional Engineer (PE). 

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How much does an Architectural Engineer cost?
Now that's a loaded question.......just kidding.  But just like most things in life, you generally get what you pay for.  Engineering is no different.  A quality design takes careful thought, careful thinking takes time, and time is money.  But keep this in mind........a poorly conceived design will take more time and therefore money to build.  We've seen it too many times!  But a carefully executed design will save you time and money in the long run.  Trying to save hundreds in "engineering" during design phase can end up costing thousands during construction.  No kidding!

The total cost of "engineering" depends on how involved the Engineer needs to be to provide a quality design.  The easier you make it on the engineer, the less the "engineering" will cost.  As an added benefit, the easier you make it on the engineer, the easier your project will likely be to build too.  Engineering costs depend on things like the complexity, location and type of building, code constraints on the building, the completeness of the design drawings, and many other factors.  Best bet is to contact us for a quote when you are ready to start planning.

So how much does it typically cost to design a building?  There is a HUGE range but this is what we have seen.............  Keep in mind, there are "minimums" so if you have a smaller project (<$200k) a higher percentage will be required.  And remodels are always at the high end of the range due to the extra time required to deal with an existing building and design something new.

Architects..........5% to 15% of the construction cost of your project.  The range is large because some Architects provide a "bare bones" design while others are artists and provide all the inspiration, vision, coordination, material selecting and oversight for your project.  Some Architects include none to all of the needed Professional services (civil, surveying, structural, MEP, etc.) within their fee structure.  See discussion above.  With so many variables it quickly becomes difficult to compare apples to apples! 

Designers..........2% to 8% of the construction cost of your project.  The range seems to be based on experience and background but also upon whether they consider themselves to be an architect, just not licensed.  Some have architectural training while others have no formal training at all. 

Draftsman..........0.5% to 2% of the construction cost of your building.  This range seems to be based on who does the actual "design" of the project.  If you have your design 100% worked out and just need it "put on paper" for submittal to the authorities then the low end of the range is appropriate.  If you desire/need some design assistance then the upper portion of the range is for you.  Note that this service (drafting) has to be "built in" to the Architects, designers, engineers rates stated above and below. 

Structural Engineer or Professional Engineer..........1% to 4% of the construction cost of your project.  But remember, this is in ADDITION to the normal design fees charged by an Architect, designer or draftsman above OR included in an Architect's 8% to 15% fee, IF he includes this cost.

Haffner Consulting Engineering (Architectural Engineering)..........2% to 6% of the construction cost of your building (includes the structural design and the building or architect design).  How can we do this?  With a no-nonsense approach and by utilizing our preferred design methods.  No fluff!!!  So call and let's get started!!!!

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Who?

Who can design a building? 
These lists are not comprehensive but represent some of the most common restrictions as they pertain to the "architectural" and structural design of most buildings.  This IS NOT a legal opinion but is only a representation of our understanding of the statutes as we know them. 

Oregon:

  • Structural Engineer (S.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building of any type.
  • Professional Engineer (P.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building except "significant structures" (over 4 stories, hospitals, large schools, firehouses, etc.). 
  • Architects:  May design any building and/or the structural portion of any building within their area of competence with some exceptions. 
  • Designers:  May design single family residential dwellings and auxiliary buildings, farm buildings, and buildings that are less than 4,000 SF and less than 20' in height.  The structural portion of these buildings may only be designed within the constraints of the "prescriptive" design specified in the Oregon Dwelling Specialty Code for One & Two Family Dwellings.  All non-"prescriptive" members or systems, by law, need to be "engineered."

Washington:

  • Structural Engineer (S.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building of any type.
  • Professional Engineer (P.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building except "significant structures" (over 4 stories, hospitals, large schools, firehouses, etc.). 
  • Architects:  May design any building and/or the structural portion of any building within their area of competence. 
  • Designers:  May design single family residential dwellings and auxiliary buildings, farm buildings, and buildings that are 4,000 SF or less.  The structural portion of these buildings may only be designed within the constraints of the "prescriptive" design specified in the Washington State Building Code.  All non-"prescriptive" members or systems, by law, need to be "engineered."
Kansas:
  • Professional Engineer (P.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building.
  • Architects:  May design any building and/or the structural portion of any building within their area of competence. 
  • Designers:  May design one and two family residential dwellings and agricultural buildings. 

Missouri:

  • Professional Engineer (P.E.):  May design the structural portion of any building. 
  • Architects:  May design any building and/or the structural portion of any building within their area of competence. 
  • Designers:  May design one and two family residential dwellings, any one building of  less than 20,000 cubic feet of volume and agricultural buildings.
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What / Where?

Do you use Green Building practices?

Yes!  In our view Green Building design practices should be used all the time. A structure should be designed to meet the clients’ needs, nothing less (does not function properly and possibly dangerous) and nothing more (over-designed and costly). Efficient design should always be the goal and resources should always be conserved where possible!

With that being said there are projects where a particular need is not met using the most efficient design approach (design criteria meets the Code but not the clients’ standards). We attempt to identify those instances and provide the most efficient design possible within the clients needs. 

You will find that what passes as “Green” varies greatly. Sometimes it isn't all it is supposed to be - see NY Times and also this EXCELLENT video concerning "Green".  This is the EPA’s definition of Green Building: “Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.”

So what is our approach? We all should be designing “green” every day whether a building is labeled as “green” or not. To do otherwise would be irresponsible and a waste of our clients’ money and resources. But often, by the time we start a design the desired “system” and materials have been selected by others in the process. But if you have us help with the whole design concept, we can help provide the answers that meet your "Green" needs while keeping the design as efficient as possible.

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What areas do you serve?

Our office is located just outside Mosier, Oregon.  We can perform engineering and design services anywhere within the states of Oregon, Washington, Kansas and Missouri.

In the Northwest we have provided professional services in towns such as Portland, Lake Oswego, Bonneville, Cascade Locks, Stevenson, Carson, Underwood, Parkdale, Mount Hood, Hood River, White Salmon, Bingen, Mosier, Lyle, Klickitat, The Dalles, Dufur, Maupin, Goldendale, Moro, Fossil, Condon, and Bickleton.  In the Midwest we have provided services to clients in the Kansas City metro area and in the surrounding towns (such as Overland Park, Leawood, Bonner Springs and Lawrence).  However, we are willing to travel to wherever we are needed. 

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Why?

Why is the design process even necessary?  I just want to design as I go!

First - If you don't obtain the proper permits it will not be legal and someone will pay for it in the future!  We can argue whether or not this is the right approach over a beer but it IS the world in which we live.  My answer would be that proper design allows you to sleep soundly at night? 

Second - It WILL cost you more if you design as you go.  Don't believe me?  Study the image below and read this blog post on the amount of control you lose by designing later.  This is why we say there is value in design!!!

CostInfluenceCurve

And Thirdly - In construction YOU get to control two of the three items in the triangle below.  You will not be able to control all three, so choose the two that are most important to you.  And remember, we can help you with all of this!

TimeCostQuality
                                        Triangle

Why do I need "engineering?"
Most commercial buildings need to be "engineered" because the law requires it.  If the public has access to your building the public expects that your building be safe.  As a result, a network of laws (codes) have been established that require "engineering." 

Many residences do not require "engineering" if they meet the "prescriptive" design requirements specified in the Code.  If a building official has told you that all or a part of your residence needs "engineering" then something in your design does not meet the "prescriptive" design requirements specified in the Code.  It doesn't mean that you can't do what you've proposed.  It just means that a Professional Engineer needs to design all or a part of the building by applying scientific principles to the non-conforming items and designing them so that they meet the code imposed loads (dead, live, snow, wind and seismic loads among others) at your site.  If you desire, you can always change your design to adhere to the "prescriptive" design criteria and therefore not require "engineering."  But then, you don't get everything you want. 

Some owners, even though not required by a building official, just want a quality design and also want to make sure their proposed design will "stand up" to the elements.  They also want to minimize the possibility of problems being "built in" to the structure.  This also helps owners sleep well during a big snowstorm, wind storm or earthquake. 

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Why do engineers over-design everything?
Professional Engineers get accused of over-designing often and in a way, our critics are right.  Until that Code imposed load (maximum snow, wind or other load) is exerted on the building, it IS overbuilt!  In a way, Professional Engineers and the Codes they follow are trying to predict the future by applying the knowledge obtained in previous events.  Predicting the next big snow storm, wind storm or earthquake is impossible.  The loads mandated by the Code do try to err on the side of caution to keep you and your investment safe.  It only makes sense and is why a 6.8 earthquake in the US kills less than a dozen while a 6.2 earthquake in another country with poor codes or enforcement kills hundreds of thousands. 

Normally, a qualified Professional Engineer designs to the code imposed minimum loadings unless there is additional criteria that makes the minimum loading unacceptable.  The minimum loading in the codes is just that, a minimum!  In most cases we will not see the minimum design loads in our lifetimes.  However, they do occur.  Think of it this way; a building that barely passes "the Code" is the worst building you can legally build.  Nobody knows when that next huge snow storm, wind storm or earthquake will happen.  All buildings are "over-designed" until there is a problem; then they are "under-designed."  Which kind of building would you rather own?  Call and we can help!

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