Tips for owner builders on engaging structural engineers:
1. Have drawings or neat sketches showing what you intend to build.
Especially when dealing with people over the internet, it is essential to first have a drawing or neat sketch showing what you intend to build. This drawing should contain all relevant sections (sizes of members etc) and dimensions (eg. length and width of your building) on it. That way we can quickly and accurately assess what needs to be done, and often it will save us having to do new drawings which will lower the cost involved.
2. Know what the Council or regulating body is requesting be certified.
Often the council will only require certain elements to be checked and certified by an Engineer. Knowing what needs to be done and what does not will save time and money for yourself.
3. Know the soil class.
If your building has footings and/or a slab which will need to be designed, knowing the soil class of the site will be required for the footing and slab design to be finalised. It is preferable that you contract a geotechnics company to conduct a site inspection before engaging a Structural Engineer to do the design work. If you do not know the soil class, you will need to inform the Structural Engineer so that they can arrange the inspection. This is also true for buildings which often do not have a typical footing, such as limestone retaining walls.