Just as we have covered in previous articles on the subject of sourcing your development team, hiring specialty engineers for your commercial development will be vital to the success of the project. The MEP team would traditionally be hired by the architect that you have hired, so unless you are attempting to go it alone, which we do not recommend, these elements are the qualifications that you can expect your architect to be looking for when sourcing professionals.
Project Specific Experience
Across all three types of engineers, the primary elements that your architect should be considering will be their experience providing these services for retail tenants. The architect you hire should be able to verify that these engineers have recently and consistently completed projects for retail tenants. Additionally, they will ideally have experience working in the local area.
Just as the other professional specialty engineers that you are hiring will be up to date on all education and regulatory requirements for their field, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers will need to be fully licensed and knowledgeable of all requirements for their field. Your architect will need to have examined all of their qualifications and previous projects they participated on to make the best hire for your needs.
They should also have relevant experience in the type of development that you are engaging in, whether it is a ground up build to suit or a redevelopment of an existing property. For these projects, you want the absolute best person for the job working on your site. Mechanics that repair boats and mechanics who repair planes are both extremely skilled and knowledgeable, but you want them working in the field or niche they are focused on. The same is true for engineers working on your project.
These engineers are required for the planning, design, and installation of any building systems of a mechanical nature. They will work with other staff on-site to ensure that these systems are integrated smoothly.
The mechanical engineer typically handles the installation and design of HVAC systems, the necessary shafts and ducts for HVAC systems, as well as any boilers, pumps, and compressors. For restaurant users, they are critical to ensure cooking exhaust vents cleanly and according to code so the restaurant won’t fill with smoke or grease. This engineer will typically also be required to oversee mechanical contractors during installation and will need to produce labor and cost estimates along with answering RFI’s relative to the scope of their work.
Plumbing engineers are going to be necessary for all planning, design, and installation of all building systems related to plumbing, including supply and drainage. This role frequently overlaps with mechanical and civil engineering areas for the smooth implementation of the building’s user operations.
The plumbing engineer will be responsible for designing the water distribution piping system, and connecting it to the outside sewage systems. They also are required to ensure code and needed water capacity for the use is met with fixtures such as toilets, sinks, water fountains, and even grease interceptors used for cooking. Similar to other specialty engineers, they will be responsible for overseeing any plumbing contractors on site and will be responsible for producing labor and cost estimates along with answering RFI’s that come up during construction.
This specialty engineer works on a wide range of systems that deal with electricity on a site and frequently overlaps with mechanical engineers. They will need to design a system that will efficiently and safely support the needs of all electrical mechanisms being installed by the mechanical engineer, as well as support the future needs of tenants' electrical needs beyond just lighting.
The electrical engineer will need to be able to design comprehensive electrical systems to meet the needs of the property, as well as conduct testing of the systems on-site to ensure they will be able to handle the workload and resolve any on-site problems as they may occur. This includes overhead lighting inside and out, electrical outlets, heating and cooling needs that need power, CCTV, gates, alarms, and any low voltage requirement uses. The same as other specialty engineers, the electrical engineer will be responsible for overseeing any electrical contractors hired and be able to produce labor and cost estimates, as well as answer RFI’s that come up during construction.
Qualities to Look for in Each
While each of these specialty engineers works on immensely different aspects of your development, the type of role that they fill is very similar. Due to this reason, the qualities that your architect will want to look for in each are going to be the same. True to what you will have examined when hiring them as your architect, they will want to find an engineer that has significant critical thinking skills, strong leadership qualities, and is an exceptional communicator.
As the best results in hiring for development and many businesses often come from hiring the right people from the top down, securing the best MEP team is going to start with finding the right architect and civil engineer. Or, instead of working to find the right person, partner with a preferred developer who can handle this for you!