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Home >Municipal Sand and Salt Building Program >Hiring an Engineering Firm

Hiring an Engineering Firm...is it required?

There are 3 reasons why it’s important to involve a Professional Engineer (PE) or architect in the planning/design/construction of a municipal sand/salt facility (or any other public facility). Two are based in state law and one in practicality. There are 2 state laws that address this issue.

  • One can be found at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/32/title32ch19sec0.html and it states under Section 1254 that a municipality MUST hire a registered Professional Engineer (PE) for any public work that costs over $100,000 or "creates an undue risk to public safety or welfare" while under construction or when complete. Most sand/salt buildings will cost over that amount and therefore a registered PE is necessary for the design of the facility.
  • The other law can be found at http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statutes/5/title5sec4594-F.html in section #6 under the Human Rights Act. If the municipal facility is a “place of employment” whose cost of construction is at least $50,000, a design professional must certify that the plans meet the barrier-free standards contained in federal ADA law. This applies to any facility built after January 1, 1996.
  • The third reason is that it just makes good sense to have a reputable professional do the design and construction oversight. With public funds at stake, it is still highly recommended that the town hire a registered PE or architect for the facility design. Usually, the PE costs are easily 10% or less of the entire project cost and it's money well spent to ensure quality and longevity of the structure and the best long term use of taxpayers' money.
A list of Maine professional firms that have been involved in state and municipal sand/salt buildings can be obtained by calling Peter at 624-3266.
Some towns consider NOT hiring a design/architectural firm. The belief that "we can build it cheaper and better" is common. The MaineDOT discourages this practice for several reasons because some towns have actually suffered structural problems in their "homemade" buildings and have compromised their State reimbursement. A sand/salt facility is a public facility which provides long term benefits. Local and state funds must be spent responsibly. MaineDOT Guidelines state that:
  • "the MaineDOT strongly recommends that any building be certified as meeting all applicable building and safety codes by an architect or engineer licensed to practice in Maine"
  • "the MaineDOT recommends periodic inspections by a State of Maine licensed architect or engineer during construction"
  • "in order for the Department to participate in the cost of a building, the plans and specs must have been certified as having met all applicable building codes by a State of Maine registered architect or engineer."

From the engineers or contractors' perspective, it is illegal to construct a public facility and practice engineering without a license. A large publicly-funded building without any stamped drawings in sight is a clear indication that there is probably unlicensed practice to be found. A simple investigation can quickly identify someone responsible for the design. If it turns out that there is a PE taking responsibility for the design and has not provided stamped, signed, and dated engineering documents, then that PE is in violation of the State Board’s rules andregulations and is flirting with reprimands, fines, or worse. If the responsible person is not a licensed PE, then the State Board does not deal with the person and turns over the case to the Attorney General for action. All of the Maine Professional Engineering information is found here: https://www.maine.gov/professionalengineers/

 

This page last updated on 6/27/13