How to Choose an MEP Engineering Firm: Checklist

How to Choose an MEP Engineering Firm: Checklist

MEP engineering and design services are crucial for both renovation and new construction projects. Since the MEP building sector has grown in recent years, it’s becoming more and more difficult to choose a MEP services provider. Finding the right one can greatly improve your building performance, reduce utility costs and achieve a more functional building overall.

What Do MEP Engineering Firms Do?

MEP engineering refers to the planning, design and management of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems of a building. MEP design elements can best be explained as the nervous system of a building and they play a crucial role in ensuring that life inside buildings is pleasant, functional and comfortable. Mechanical systems control warmth or AC, electrical systems give us light and power our devices, while plumbing systems provide fresh water for drinking and flush out waste water.

An MEP engineering firm is typically hired for large institutional, industrial or commercial projects like shopping malls, schools, office buildings, hospitals or sport centers. Nonetheless, any project for any piece of real estate, regardless of location or size, can greatly benefit from an MEP team involvement.

MEP engineering firms can improve the efficiency of a new construction or renovation project while lowering costs and increasing long-term value. MEP firms look at various building systems in the context of the overall project and then determine which solutions will work best with the building's architecture. MEP engineering firms can assist you with the following technical difficulties:

  • Design and improve lighting, heating, ventilation and cooling while maintaining aesthetics and architectural integrity of the building
  • Reduce operating and maintenance costs throughout the building’s service life
  • Help ensure that the energy costs are kept to a minimum
  • Assist with meeting environmental criteria and promote water and energy saving
  • Resolve plumbing difficulties and manage wastewater

All in all, MEP consulting firms are hired to improve reliability, safety and other functional aspects while also paying attention to aesthetics and increased comfort.

Where to Begin – How to Choose an MEP Engineering Firm?

The selection of the right MEP partner is one of the crucial decisions in the building process. This is because mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems make up a large portion of the project budget, especially in terms of components and infrastructure.

It's critical to hire the best MEP engineering firm for guaranteed project success that meets your technical and financial goals in order to ensure high-performing building systems. MEP engineers provide a wide range of services – but in order to get the best result for your building, you must first choose what degree of service you require.

A MEP consulting firm's services have a long-term impact on a project. The planning and design decisions made in the early stages of a project can determine whether the project succeeds or fails. So here’s an outline of considerations when choosing a MEP partner firm for your next project:

1. Talk to both project managers and MEP designers

Before moving forward, it is essential that you schedule an interview with the MEP engineering firm to review the project requirements. Make sure that both the design and PM teams are involved, so that you can define the tasks that need to be performed together. Also, make sure to schedule regular calls and meetings with the project manager and lead engineers throughout the project to track progress and discuss any obstacles.

Learn who is going to have which role in the project and don’t minimize the importance of the firm’s previous project history – you can call or email past clients to learn about their experience with your chosen firm. In case there were major concerns, it’s best to know early in the process.

2. Prioritize communication, collaboration and transparency

First and foremost, your MEP construction services partner needs to be a part of a larger design team. They must be ready to work cooperatively with the stakeholders – the building owner, client, architects, as well as other engineers and contractors. It’s impossible to ensure smooth project delivery if all the teams are working in silos rather than together.

To ensure project success, check if the company’s communication skills are stellar and that the written PM documentation is available and detailed. Reputation is important, so don’t overlook references and look at the entire company portfolio, as well as certifications such as LEED

3. Agree on project timeline and requirements

The MEP service provider should be capable of delivering within schedule. Make sure to establish deadlines and specify clear requirements early in the process and try to have a written record of everything. In case anything needs to be postponed, book a call, video call or face-to-face meeting to discuss the issues.

4. Check for the ability to deliver within budget

A successful MEP project provides value to the client but stays within budget. If any extra costs come up in the process, discuss the changes with your MEP partner, and bear in mind that design and construction costs are only a small portion of the total project cost. Understand that, sometimes, making additional expenditures up front can save you a lot of money in the long run.

5. Check the Quality Assurance processes

Every MEP engineering firm must have a QA process in place. However, this is not something that should be taken lightly – it’s easy to define a process but a lot more difficult to implement it and stick to it. Dedicated efforts and control are needed in order for the workforce to adopt the QA processes and start to live and breathe them.

Discuss the quality assurance process with your MEP partner early in the process and make sure that it is followed and that the quality can be confirmed.

Many MEP service providers, both big and small, claim to have effective QA controls, but very few can actually deliver. A solid quality management system begins with a proposal that can be considered at every project phase. If in doubt, request to see a list of QA processes and be aware that serious MEP companies will review and update their policies and controls periodically.

6. Specify change orders in advance

Although projects are completed following extensive brainstorming sessions based on client requirements and suggestions, sometimes project alterations happen. Making changes later can be very challenging. As a customer, you may request changes to the ongoing project because of cost limits, shifting needs or to improve certain design features.

Talk to the firm’s technical staff about how they handle last-minute alterations and make sure to specify the number of changes in advance.

7. Look for a blend of visionary and problem-solving mindset

Traditionally, the focus in MEP projects is on standards and building codes. These aspects remain crucial, but innovation and creativity should not be left aside.

Projects can often be rushed because of deadlines and the need to start the construction stage immediately. Other times, MEP design is viewed as just a step that’s necessary for project approval, not as something that requires time, effort, intelligence and the integration of out-of-the-box alternatives.

Make sure that your MEP partner is not just ticking the boxes – ask them how they solved a problem in the past and make sure that they’re ready to seek alternative and innovative solutions.

8. Ask for a frequent client reference

Great MEP construction firms have a loyal customer base and frequent projects from reputable clients. Getting an authentic testimonial from a frequent collaborator will help you get genuine feedback, evaluate potential MEP firms and manage your project better. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • Does the customer work exclusively with that particular MEP construction company?
  • Are the projects efficient and in line with the customer’s demands?
  • Is the MEP firm able to deliver within budget and on time?
  • How is the general work ethic in the company?

BWK Engineers is an MEP engineering firm with strong collaborations and partnerships spanning several years. Check some of our projects or contact us if you’re interested in working with us.