There is often the common mistake to call any professional found in the building site in Nigeria an Engineer. This mistake is usually made by people who do not understand the differences between the unique roles of the diverse professionals involved in building projects. Some professionals take the pain to explain the differences and what they should properly be called while some prefer to answer ‘Engineer’ which is the common name. This post is set to distinguish the roles. The common professionals involved in building projects in Nigeria are:
- Architect: Architects are often described as the chief consultants in building projects because they are the first person that makes contact with the potential client. Arcitects does the functional and aesthetics design of the building based on the client’s Brief. A Brief is a description of what the client wants in his building including the purpose of the building such as residential, commercial, educational purposes, religious or recreational purposes etc. The Architect uses the Brief to develop working plans and elevations for the project to the satisfaction of the client.
- Civil/Structural Engineer: He is the one that provides strength to the building. Making analogy with a human person, the Architect provides the flesh and clothing for the building while the civil/structural engineer provides the bones. We know that a flesh cannot stand without the bones. What’s the need for this bone? The bone of the building comprises the concrete and reinforcement. Due to gravity force, any object that goes up tends to come down and when there is an obstacle to the downward movement of such obstacle, it exacts force or pressure called weight on the obstacle. Thus, the obstacle needs to be strong enough to resist the weight. This is the concept of loads or actions in buildings. The structural engineer analyses the loads in the buildings and determines appropriate skeleton of reinforcement and concrete to provide adequate gravitational resistance to the weight to ensure that the structure stands safe.
- Mechanical Engineer: The mechanical engineer has a lot of roles in the wide world of engineering but in building works, his role is to provide water installation and waste removal components of the building. This includes network of pipes that convey water to the building, tanks and tank stand, wash basins, sinks, water closet/jacuzzi and other systems of waste removal from the building. His duties include provide of HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems to the building.
- Electrical Engineer: He provides the wiring and electrification systems to the building including the lighting point and power point details.
- Quantity Surveyor: Prior to installation of the physical systems in the building, each of these service providers prepares working drawings for their services. Based on the content of the working drawings, the quantity surveyor prepares the bill or the most probable cost that can be used to complete the project. Generally, his services ends on the award of the contract but he can be called up anytime when there is need for amendment of prices.
- Building Technologist: He is the one who ought to be in charge of day to day running of the project on site. Building technologists are usually well trained in project management. They define the project tasks, prepare project schedule, assign resources, hire workers and oversee every activity in the project from initiation to completion. They work together with the professionals above.
Summary: The Architect, Civil/Structural Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer and Quantity Surveyor should only be on site to inspect their services. The Architect to ensure that rooms spaces, functionalities, circulation and aesthetics are done according to his designs. The Civil/Structural Engineer to ensure that strength is not compromised in concrete and reinforcement. The Mechanical Engineer, when mechanical services installations are needed. The Electrical Engineer, when electrical services installations are needed. It is important to know where each of these professionals fit in order to avoid confusion. It is very important that each of these professionals paly their distinct roles in building projects to defeat the rise of quackery and ensure that professionalism is well maintained.