What Does an Engineering Consultant Actually Do?

An engineering consultant is predominantly client facing.

Structural engineers, civil engineers, principal designers, architects, design technicians, etc…all these job roles and more all under one roof (well, three technically, as we have offices in Cardiff, Bromsgrove AND London).  We’re a multi-disciplinary consultancy, and proud of it.*


Whilst everyone at HLN Engineering Ltd is customer facing in some respect – everyone has to pull their weight with regards to client meetings, site visits and telephone duties – one role in-particular is dedicated to client liaison.  That would be the engineering consultant.


Engineering consultants do just that – they consultant.  More specifically, they offer an industry standard consultative service for private and commercial clients, as-well as Public Limited Companies and local Government.


There’s a lot more to it than that, though.  If HLN Engineering Ltd is multi-disciplinary, then engineering consultants are the epitome of multi-tasking!  Let’s take a look at this diverse role in more detail…



(Quite frankly, our clients expect it – why work with a separate architecture firm and engineering consultancy when you can satisfy all your design requirements in one?)



The Main Duties of an Engineering Consultant



The day to day duties of an engineering consultant pretty much depend on who he/she is working for.  For instance, the requirements of a large multi-national company will differ greatly from those of a private individual.


Therefore, to develop a better understanding of what an Engineering Consultant gets up to, we’ve differentiated between the different types of client.


Before we dive in, it is important to remember that an engineering consultant still plays a big part in the design of buildings and does not spend each and every day on site or assisting private clients (although this is a major part of the role).



How Can an Engineering Consultant Assist a Private Individual?



Private individuals are typically home owners keen on making structural alterations to their homes, in some way.  The sort of works an engineering consultant may assist with include:



  • House inspections for extension and conversion design – prior to constructing certain types of house extension or loft conversion, an engineering consultant will need to inspect a property to ascertain if the work is feasible.



  • Subsidence – the bane of all home owners, an engineering consultant is required to compile a report to confirm if subsidence is occurring and what is causing it.



  • Structural alterations to load bearing walls – in short, load bearing walls support the weight of a building. If, for instance, you want to remove a wall in your home to increase space, an engineering consultant is required to calculate if the wall in question is indeed load bearing and safe to remove (you wouldn’t want part of your house to cave in, now would you?!)



  • Health & Safety – depending on the size of the job, a principal designer may be required to ensure the health and safety of the project, under the revised CDM Regulations 2015. An engineering consultant will typically be qualified to undertake this duty.


An engineering consulting is required to act as mediator during a party wall dispute.


Party Wall Disputes


Something every engineering consultant has been involved in, at some point or other, is the prevention and resolution of disputes in relation to party walls.


“What on Earth is a party wall?


A party wall is a wall that divides the properties of different owners.  Both properties share the wall and ownership is split down the middle.  Problems arise when the owner of one property decides to perform any building work.  Examples of such work includes:


  • Removing pockets of the wall to insert beams;
  • Cutting away chimney breasts;
  • Underpinning (i.e. the strengthening of building foundations with screw piles and brackets);
  • Raising (i.e. the separation of a building from its foundation)


This is where the Party Wall Act 1996 comes in.  Essentially, owners are legally bound to tell the owner of the adjoining property if they plan on carrying out any building work on or near the property boundary (i.e. the party wall).  Under the act, an adjoining owner has the right to contest what has been proposed.  If an agreement between both parties cannot be met, then an “agreed surveyor” must be appointed to settle the dispute.


Acting as mediator, it is the role of the engineering consultant to come up with a solution that satisfies both parties.



How Can an Engineering Consultant Assist a Commercial Client?



Moving onto the commercial side of things, things look a lot different.  Whilst the consultative nature of the role remains, the sort of activities a consulting engineer may be involved in include:



  • Project Management – working as project manager, an engineering consultant is required to liaise between other professionals involved in a construction project (structural engineers, architects etc.), ensuring the job is carried out to the exact specification of the principal contractor. Dependant on the work involved, they may need to liaise with the local authority to ensure public safety. *



  • Feasibility study – an engineering consultant may be called upon to conduct a feasibility study, to determine the viability of a proposed project. Aside from design implications and projected costs, s/he may also consider the wider environmental impact of any proposed works as part of the study. **



  • Construction Health and Safety – an engineering consultant may work closely with a principal designer to help co-ordinate the health and safety of a construction project that involves more than one contractor.



[* ** Such responsibilities were required of HLN Engineering Ltd as a result of our involvement with the landmark Roath Basin project.]



Other duties an engineering consultant may conduct on behalf of a client include the preparation of contract documentation, acceptance of works, commissioning of systems and the resolution of final accounts.



With years of experience consulting private and commercial clients on an extensive range of engineering related issues, HLN Engineering Ltd has earned its reputation as one of the leading engineering consultancy’s in the UK. 


For more information on how we can support you, speak with one of our in-house consulting engineers today on 020 8099 6388.  Alternatively, email us at mail@hlngroup.co.uk.

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