Why You Need Them
Have you worked in an office environment where the temperature was always a bit hot and everyone agreed with you? But, over in Accounts, Julie says it’s too cold?
How can that be possible?
Some will say, oh that’s the difference between women and men. (It’s not.)
Have you ever wondered why when you close the door in your office the ceiling tiles pop up out of the ceiling grid for a brief second, make a wind like noise and then pop back down again?
Do you wonder why it’s so bloody dark in here and why the lights don’t provide enough light level to really see what I’m doing?
Ever thought the data cabling in the back of your rack, linking into all the patch panels, looks like an eagles nest made of data cables?
Why does the hot water take a year (or at least five minutes) to reach your sink?
How come one area of the office has lots of fire sprinklers yet some areas have none?
Why is the fire exit sign positioned, so that if you followed it, you would end up walking into a blank wall?
I could go on forever but here is the thing – you need service consultants to avoid all of the above real life circumstances I’ve come across.
THEY PAY-OFF IN THE END
Service consultants are trained in the design and documentation of the particular building service in which they have studied. They are responsible for delivering specific project documentation that will enhance the design and functionality of the overall design and ensure that the end result is one that complies with all standards and provides optimum performance for the end user.
By engaging a service engineer you can be assured that the services side of your building will be delivered to a high standard.
HELPS COMPARISON OF QUOTES
By engaging an engineer, the ‘grey area’ of what is included and what is not included in the service tender does not exist because the project is clearly defined. Tradespeople will use specific information on the plans to provide quotations that enable the client to compare ‘apples with apples’.
By engaging an engineer you will receive a system designed for your specific needs, with the outcomes you are aiming for. Whether that is a specific light level needed for training people; a required working air temperature; specific exhaust extraction from your chemical lab – whatever your particular needs – engineers will sort out the areas that seem to be complicated.
Service engineers are great for specific industry requirements where there are many and varied codes to meet. For example, the food processing industry has requirements around the condition of the premises and the need to keep them clean, at set temperatures, even controlled environments where there is the need for overalls and hairnets due to contamination risks. Service engineers can really shine for you and provide the key detailed information you need.
HOW TO SPOT OVER-ENGINEERING
I have seen some over-engineering of services. Now the engineers in the world might say it’s better to be over than under and this is correct, especially when building a bridge, skyscraper or tunnel. But there is no need for air conditioning that will cool an area double the capacity of the space you are about to lease. Tell the engineer exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve, for what reason and to what budget and they will generally deliver.
How will you know if the engineer has really beefed up the design? The short answer is YOU won’t. You’re not a technical person like your engineer so until you go to market and get pricing on the developed plans you won’t know. However, once you receive several quotes, if you notice more often than not the tradespeople are asking questions like why that size unit or why those lights, then perhaps you have a problem.
TRADESPEOPLE CAN BE A GREAT RESOURCE
As you will find out during your building journey there are always multiple solutions to fixing a problem. There are times when the tradesmen will come back to you with alternative solutions to the designed documentation. You should take notice of this advice because these guys are at the coalface every day doing this sort of work. They’re very good at working out what works and what doesn’t because they’re the ones who return to site to fix the problem.
Another common thing I see with engineering diagrams is the cost factor between alternatives. For example Light-Emitting Diode (LED) light fittings vary in cost considerably and usually this is because they come from different manufacturers with different outcomes, warranties etc. When you are lighting an entire f loor with, say, 160 light fittings at a saving of between $100 and $150 per light then you’re talking serious money. This would equate to between $16,000 - $24,000 – which will come in handy, believe me. Don’t be scared to ask for alternatives from your engineer. We would all like to drive the Ferrari but most of us still drive the Toyota.
The upshot is you need to listen to all the advice and come to your own conclusions. I’m not anti-engineer and the ideas that these guys come up with are usually outstanding and make the project very easy because of the significant detail they provide. The specified products are usually excellent and the end result will be a first-class office premises.
PRO TIP: The initial spend to engage an engineer can be significant, but it is an upfront cost that you will recoup many times over. Here is a list of Service Consultants you will mostly come across:
Mechanical Engineer – responsible for the design and documentation of air conditioning services including exhaust and any other specific extraction and cooling and heating systems.
Fire Engineer – responsible for the design and documentation of the fire services to the specific project and includes fixed fire sprinkler system, detection systems, extinguishers, suppressant gases and any other form of fire control.
Electrical Engineer - responsible for the design and documentation of all the electrical services for the specific project including lighting, power points, switchboard services and any specific project-related energy requirements. Data cabling could also fall under the electrical engineer’s scope.
Access Consultants - responsible for the design and documentation of specific access, and in particular are experts on disability access codes.
Service consultants are a worthwhile investment.
They will ensure you comply with complex rules and regulations.
Service engineers are specialists who enable a more productive and appropriate environment.
Over-engineering is rare but your tradespeople will alert you to it.
Listen to your tradies – they often have cheaper alternatives or suggestions.