Contracting civil engineers aim to turn the plans of consulting civil engineers (designers) into reality. They oversee the actual construction on the ground and work in conjunction with consulting engineers. All civil engineers need a good understanding of design and construction processes as well as of health and safety issues.
Once plans have been drawn up and approved by the client, an engineering contractor uses their professional expertise to organise human and material resources on site, and ensure the project runs to time and budget and is safe to work on. Occasionally, contractors will put together a design and build a team themselves. This blurs some of the boundaries between the services they offer and those traditionally provided by consultants.
Typical work activities
The work involves turning the designer’s plans into reality by actually building them. Contracting engineers ensure that all aspects of the construction project under their responsibility – from ground works and foundations to final finishes – are completed within cost and time constraints and to client specification.
Typical activities are likely to include:
- Liaising with and working jointly with the design team (consulting engineers) to implement refinements;
- Negotiating modifications with architects and consulting engineers;
- Dealing skillfully with a diverse range of people including clients, architects, other engineering professionals, sub-contractors and members of the public;
- Taking responsibility for health and safety on site;
- Making judgments and solving problems;
- Supervising construction;
- Dealing with the logistics of supplies;
- Scheduling work;
- Providing appropriate plans for construction;
- Monitoring the provision of materials;
- Liaising with and directing the work of sub-contractors employed on the projects;
- Ensuring quality of workmanship.
However, turning designer’s plans into construction reality is never straightforward and other activities are likely to include:
- Finding solutions to overcome unforeseen construction difficulties;
- Scheduling and adjusting each stage of the project to meet time and budget targets;
- Dealing with complaints from local people experiencing disruption due to building works.