In this instalment of the Property Development Series, I'll walk us through the role of the engineers and which ones you'll need for your next project.
Astute property investors and developers know that in order to be successful they can’t do it all on their own.
They surround themselves with qualified and experienced professionals who can provide invaluable support and assistance throughout their investment journey – their “A” team.
Property development involves many varied aspects and as such, requires a good support network that consists of a designer/architect, engineers, surveyors and a strong leader to pull the whole thing together – the project manager.
Then of course there are the builders and tradespeople.
All of these industry professionals will help you to make your development dream a reality and avoid too many nightmares along the way.
Depending on the size and design of your development as well as the characteristics of the site, a number of different engineers may be employed on your development project.
These consultants are required to conduct a soil test, which establishes the site conditions that a structural engineer needs in order to design the footings or foundations for your building.
Their work is all conducted above ground and involves developing a structural design that is functional and cost-effective to build.
They work alongside your architect to provide a set of engineering drawings.
The structural engineer ensures your building, be it a multi-storey apartment block or townhouse, can withstand the weight of the concrete and steel that will go into its construction, not to mention the furnishings, windows, cars in the driveway and garage and all of the resident's possessions.
They also have to account for various elemental issues that may impact the structure of the building, such as wind.
If you are living in a multi-storey apartment building and it was hit by a strong wind, you would not like to feel the building move even a tiny bit, would you?
These are just some of the forces that structural engineers must allow for in their design.
In some parts of the country, extra precautions must be taken because of susceptibility to floods, earthquakes or cyclones.
Of course, as a developer, you will not personally be involved in any of these calculations, but you should understand why you require the services of a professional structural engineer.
At the end of the day, they will be responsible for determining whether you build on a concrete slab or strip footings.
They will also decide whether you need steel beams to support the upper level or whether cheaper timber beams will suffice and can advise if the architect’s design will be too expensive to build, potentially offering ideas on how to save costs during the construction process.
Civil engineering is concerned with the design of roads and bridges, so it’s unlikely that you will need to engage them for your residential development.
Instead, your structural engineer can design any relevant civil works, including earthworks, street improvements, stormwater, drainage systems, sewerage and water supply to your property.
Both Structural and Civil engineers belong to the same professional association; the Institution of Engineers Australia, trading as ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA.
For more information visit www.ieaust.org.au.
Straightforward single or two-storey developments will not require the services of a hydraulic engineer, however, if you are going to develop a high-rise apartment or commercial building, somebody has to plan where the pipes, water, gas and waste will go.
You may also need a fire engineer to design fire hydrant and hose reel systems, as well as fire sprinkler services and alarm systems.
Before your architect gets stuck into design and detailed town planning drawings, you should engage a land surveyor to prepare a survey plan of your land.
It is their role to measure the land, conduct a re-establishment survey and confirm that the existing boundaries of your property match those indicated on the title.
For town planning purposes the land surveyor will also undertake a feature survey of the surrounding properties; a requirement for many town planning applications.
Note: If you have bought adjoining blocks of land, your surveyor may also need to consolidate a number of titles.
At the commencement of the building of your project, a surveyor may have to peg out the land so the builder knows the exact boundaries and they might even set out the dimensions of the new dwellings on the land to assist the builder.
Once the development is underway, the land surveyor will draw up a plan of subdivision which will initially require council approval and will eventually be lodged with the titles office in order to divide your existing single title into multiple titles; one for each property plus any common area if necessary.
A quantity surveyor, or QS as they are sometimes known, will often be engaged for larger developments to act as a construction economist or cost control manager.
Their title is taken from the Bill of Quantities, which is a document that itemises the quantities of materials and labour required for a construction project.
While Quantity Surveyors do not usually work on small developments, banks or lending institutions often require their report if the construction cost exceeds $1 million.
A QS is often called in at the feasibility stage to advise the developer and/or their lenders on the likely construction cost of the project and the most economical way of achieving project requirements.
With their understanding of construction methods and costs, a QS can prepare an accurate budget for building your project and if necessary, will monitor costs during the construction process.
They then compare the true cost to the initial budget and may be required to “sign off” for the bank to indicate that the work has been completed before progress payments are made, meaning the QS is often employed throughout the entire life of large-scale development.
Essentially the QS can:
• Ensure that the design remains on budget through cost management.
• Be employed by the building contractor quoting for your job to help accurately prepare their tender. They may also suggest alternative construction ideas to save money.
• Assist you in assessing construction tenders and offering advice on the type of contract or special clauses to be inserted.
• Value "progress payments" at regular intervals and variations or additional works as required.
• Produce depreciation schedules of the various project components and advise on realistic insurance replacement costs upon completion of the development.
• Act as an expert witness or arbitrator if disputes arise.
Quantity Surveyors have usually completed an appropriate tertiary degree and are members of their local Institute of Quantity Surveyors.
When choosing a quantity surveyor to join your development team, make sure they are a member of the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors.
You should meet with them to discuss your project and the range of services you require them to undertake and if you don't understand any of the roles they might play, don’t be scared to ask for an explanation.
Make sure you obtain a fee estimate, even though this may only be a general indication until firm project parameters are determined and you both know exactly what role the QS will play.
Confirm that they have experience working on the scale of the project in consideration and that they are on the panel for your preferred lender.
In the fifteenth instalment of the series, I'll explain whether or not you need a project manager for your property development.