Classification of Engineering Services
Reprinted by permission. ®2003,
American Society of Civil Engineers,
Manual 45, pp. 9-17. www.pubs.asce.org
The need for professional engineering services varies along with
the organizational structure, size, and capability of consulting
engineering firms. Many consulting engineering firms provide comprehensive
services, while other firms specialize in specific areas of engineeringcsuch
as geotechnical, environmental, traffic, or structuralcand provide
their services to a prime engineer, architect, or owner. Few consulting
firms are qualified to provide complete service for all projects;
thus, it is common to use associate consulting professionals to
provide specialized services.
The services provided by consultants can be grouped into the following
three broad categories:
- Consultations, investigations,
- Services relating to construction projects, and
- Special services
This chapter provides a description of the types of services that
a consultant may be expected to provide a client. However, the classification
of services is not nearly as important as the mutual understanding
of services required between the consultant and the client. It is
imperative that the consultant and client communicate clearly about
the scope of services needed.
Both parties must clearly understand what services are and are not
included. Frequently, a client may assume that services, such as
extra meetings, are included in the cost when it is the intention
of the engineer to charge additional fees. Conversely, the engineer
may want to decline responsibility for inspecting construction. To
remove doubt, clarifying language should be included in the contract
for engineering services.
Consultation, Investigations, and Studies
Consultants may be engaged
to provide consulting services or to conduct various types of studies
or investigations. These services primarily
deal with collecting, interpreting, and reporting information,
as well as formulating conclusions and making recommendations.
Typical services in this category include the following:
Preliminary and Feasibility Investigations and
These services usually precede the authorization of a capital project
and may involve extensive investigations, analyses of conditions,
and comparisons of several possible plans. They may focus on alternatives
analysis, environmental impact, sustainable development, operating
costs, life-cycle costs, financing considerations, and expected
revenues as bases for conclusions and recommendations regarding
of undertaking a project.
These services include the broad areas of developing
master plans for long-range capital improvement programs; preparation
development plans, urban plans, and regional plans; and the investigation
of environmental conditions and preparation of environmental
impact studies, with subsequent planning to improve or maintain existing
conditions. Such planning often requires coordination of the
of engineering and other disciplines.
The client may engage the engineer to present
a project concept, technical analysis, or planning study to the
public. In addition,
the client may use the engineer to solicit public involvement
on a particular project or study. These services require the engineer
to be familiar with the array of public involvement techniques
in order to achieve the desired result.
Appraisals, Valuations, and Rate Studies
These services may include
investigations and analyses of existing conditions; estimates of
capital and operating costs, overhead
costs, and financing costs; and forecasts of revenues for property
development or for the recommendation of prospective utility
Assistance in Financial Matters
A client who is planning to issue
bondscparticularly revenue bondscto finance a capital project may
engage a consultant. The scope of
services may include an evaluation of capabilities of existing
and proposed facilities to meet present and projected future
needs, statements of probable construction costs, and an estimate
revenue requirements, as well as a determination of appropriate
rates to provide this income. The consultant also may act as
the responsible agent to certify that certain terms and conditions
of the bond issues are carried out.
Materials Engineering and Equipment Tests
These services include tests of materials and equipment under established
codes and standards, specialized examination of equipment and materials
used in construction and industry, and other inspections and monitoring
required by the clients.
Inspections and Evaluations of Existing Facilities and Structures
These inspections include material testing for a bridge, sewage
treatment plant, airport runway, and other facilities or structures.
Direct Personal Services
This includes services such as assistance
in preparing for legal proceedings, appearances before courts or
commissions to render
expert opinions and conclusions, and investigation of technical
matters in which specialized engineering knowledge, experience,
and judgment are required.
Professional engineering services are required
for each of the six typical phases of a construction project. Ideally,
and efficiency, all services should be provided by the same consultant,
although at times services in various phases can be furnished
by different consultants or by the client.
The six standard phases of a construction project and the engineering
services needed for each are as follows:
- Study and Report Phasecanalysis of client needs, evaluation
of alternatives and recommendations of a preferred option, conceptual
design, conceptual opinions of probable construction cost
Design Phasecpreparation of final design criteria, preliminary
drawings, outline specifications, and preliminary
estimate of construction cost
- Final Design Phasecpreparation
of construction drawings, specifications, estimates of probable
construction cost, and
other contract documents
- Bidding or Negotiating Phasecassistance
to the client with the bidding or negotiating process for construction
- Construction Phasecrepresentation of the client
during construction and inspection of construction
Phasecassistance to the client in startup and operation of the
project, including periodic inspections
In some cases, the study and report phase, the preliminary design
phase, and the final design phase may be combined, especially for
smaller projects. Although the client often will specify what phases
of service are required, the engineer also may offer advice about
the appropriate steps needed for
More detailed descriptions of the six phases follow.
Study and Report Phase
This phase involves determination of project
scope and economic and technical evaluation of feasible alternatives.
The services performed
during this phase may include the following:
- Review available
data and consult with the client to clarify and define project
- Advise the client about the need to provide or obtain
additional data or services, and assist the client in obtaining
These additional services may include photogrammetry, reconnaissance
surveys, property surveys, topographic surveys, geotechnical
investigations and consultations, compilation of hydrological
materials engineering, assembly of zoning, deed and other
restrictive land use information, and environmental assessments
- Identify and analyze requirements of governmental
authorities that have jurisdiction to approve the design of the
in consultations with such authorities.
- Identify and analyze
pertinent government regulations and work with government agencies
as needed to ensure
that the design
specifications meet with their approval.
- Provide analyses
of the client’s needs, planning
surveys, and comparative evaluations of prospective
sites and solutions.
- Provide a general economic analysis of various
alternatives that meet the client’s requirements.
the project concepts and alternatives to obtain input from
the public or affected citizens
- Prepare a report that includes alternative
solutions available to the client as well as the consultant’s
findings and recommendations. The report may contain schematic
layouts, sketches, conceptual design
criteria with appropriate exhibits indicating clearly
the considerations involved (including applicable requirements
of governmental authorities
having jurisdiction), and the consultant’s
conceptual opinion of probable costs for the project.
Preliminary Design Phase
This phase establishes the general size and scope of the project
and its location on the selected site. Services may include
- Consult with the client, review preliminary reports, clarify
and define project requirements, review available data, and
scheduling. Conferences with approving and regulatory governmental
agencies and applicable utilities also may be required.
the client about requirements for additional data or services
described in the study and report phase, and assist
in obtainingcsuch data and services.
- Prepare preliminary design
documents, including final design criteria, preliminary drawings,
outline specifications, and
of the project.
- Determine right-of-way and easement needs.
- Present the project
to the public or to affected citizens/businesses. Prepare revised
opinions of probable total project costs.
- Provide periodic status
Final Design Phase
This phase of project development is usually undertaken
only after the client has approved the preliminary design phase
material. The basic services for the final design phase may include
- Prepare construction drawings and specifications
showing the character and extent of the project based on the
- Prepare right-of-way and easement documents.
- Prepare and present
a revised estimate of probable total project costs based on the
final drawings and specifications.
- Furnish the necessary engineering
data and assist in the application for regulatory permits from
or federal authorities.
These are distinguished from and do not include detailed
applications and supporting documents for government
grants-in-aid or planning
grants that would be furnished as additional services,
described later in this chapter.
- Prepare basic documents
related to construction contracts for review and approval by
the client and the client’s
legal and other advisors. These may include contract
agreement forms, general conditions
and supplementary conditions, invitations to bid,
instructions to bidders, insurance and bonding requirements, and
- Furnish the client a specified number of
of drawings, specifications, and other contract
- Present the project to the public or to affected
citizens and businesses. . Provide periodic status
Bidding or Negotiating Phase
Services under this phase may include the following:
- Assist the
client in advertising and obtaining bids or negotiating proposals
for each separate prime construction contract, maintain
a record of prospective bidders to whom bidding documents
have been issued, attend pre-bid conferences, and receive and process
for bidding documents.
- Issue addenda as appropriate to interpret,
clarify, expand, or amend the bidding documents.
- Assist the client
in determining the qualifications and acceptability of prospective
contractors, subcontractors, and materials
- Advise the client on the acceptability of alternative
materials and equipment proposed by the prospective
constructors when substitution
prior to the award of contracts is allowed by the bidding
- Attend the bid opening, prepare bid tabulation
sheets, and assist the client in evaluating bids or proposals
and in assembling
awarding contracts for construction, materials, equipment,
Services performed during this phase are those
usually associated with acting as the client’s representative.
Construction services may include:
Review, for compliance with design
concepts, the shop and erection drawings submitted by the constructors.
- Review laboratory, shop, and mill test reports on materials
and equipment, or provide inspection at the manufacturing facilities
during the production of materials specific to the project.
the project site at appropriate intervals as construction proceeds
to observe and report on the progress and the
quality of the executed work.
- Provide services of a full-time
resident project representative, and support staff as required,
during construction to
ensure that it is accomplished in conformance with the
specifications, and other contract documents.
instructions from the client to the contractors, issue necessary
interpretations and clarifications
of contract documents,
change orders requiring special inspections and testing
of the work, and make recommendations as to acceptability
- Make recommendations to the client on corrective
actions or contractual measures that may be exercised
- Prepare sketches required to resolve problems
due to actual field conditions encountered.
amounts of progress payments due, based on degree of completion
of the work, and recommend issuance of such payments by the client.
- Observe and
assist performance tests and initial operation of the project.
record drawings from information submitted by the contractor
or resident engineer.
- Make a final inspection and report on completion
of the project, including recommendations
payments to contractors
and release of retained percentages.
At the completion of construction, as a basic service
the consultant may assist with the startup of project operations.
may be commissioned to prepare a manual for both operation and
maintenance requirements, and may also provide assistance in
adjusting and balancing equipment, identifying deficiencies and assisting
in obtaining corrections, and performing inspection prior to
end of the project warranty period. The consultant may assist
in operator training, setting up job classifications and salaries,
organizing the purchase of supplies, developing charts for recording
data, and observing and reporting on project operations.
Special services required during the study, design,
construction, and operation phases of a construction project may
reports, and activities beyond the scope of the basic services.
These services, many of which are also listed earlier in this
chapter under the category “Consultations, Investigations, and Studies,” relate
to feasibility, scope, and location of the project. The research,
compilation of engineering data, and acquisition of property may
involve professional specialists in engineering and other fields.
Special services that may be provided by the constant, or negotiated
with other firms or sub consultants by the consultant acting on behalf
of the client, include the following:
- Geotechnical engineeringcincluding
test borings, sampling and analysis, and recommendations.
studies, tests, and process determinations to establish design
criteria or demonstrate compliance.
- Land surveys, establishment
of boundaries and monuments, preparation of easement descriptions,
and related computations and drawings.
- Engineering and topographic
surveys for design and construction.
- Mill, shop, or laboratory
inspections of the materials and equipment.
- Additional copies
of reports, construction drawings, specifications, and other
documents as required for
bidding and construction
beyond the number specified in the basic services
- Extra travel and subsistence as defined by the
agreement for engineering services.
- Value engineeringcincluding
review of the work of other engineers, either within the same
organization or in
other firms, to determine
whether a proposed solution is optimum and, if
not, to suggest a better approach for meeting the project’s
functional and financial criteria.
- Redesign to reflect
changes requested by the client or necessitated by the client’s
acceptance of substitutions proposed by the contractor.
to the client as an expert witness in litigation in connection
with the project
or in hearings
- Final investigations involving
detailed consideration of operation, maintenance, and overhead
and preparation of final rate
schedules and earning and expense statements,
appraisals, valuations, and material audits
certification of force account construction
performed by the client or for extra work
done by the contractor.
- Preparation of detailed
applications and supporting documents for government grants
or advances for
public works projects.
- Plotting, computing, and filing subdivision
plats staking lots, and other land planning
- Preparation of environmental assessment
and impact statements and other assistance
connection with public
- Additional studies and design efforts
to meet special conditions encountered during
- Assistance in the selection
and engagement of architects, other engineers, contractors,
review and approval
of their work; contacting governmental
obtain permits and
documents; and other services related
to project development.
- Assessment of completed project’s
ability to meet its design intent.