Finding a consultant or engineer

If you need a building or resource consent from the council, chances are you'll need a consultant or engineer.  

Consultants and engineers can help with:  

  • feasibility studies  
  • assistance in the resource consent process 
  • design of a new building, structure or system 
  • modifying an existing structure or system 
  • certifying a piece of equipment, such as a fairground ride or a heavy vehicle 
  • reviewing the design of another consultant or engineer  

Selecting a consultant or engineer 

The first step is to select the right consultant or engineer for your job.  

Filter by location and expertise in our ACE New Zealand member directory of over 200 consulting firms in New Zealand. 

All of our engineers and consultants hold world-class professional qualifications backed by practical experience. They're bound by a code of ethics, committed to delivering quality outcomes, carry professional indemnity insurance and demonstrate the highest levels of professionalism and ongoing development. 

Preparing a brief  

A brief defines the relationship between you and the consultant in terms of scope of work, deliverables and the contractual relationship. 

The level of detail in your brief will increase with the complexity of the project. 

Here are some examples of information to include in your brief:  

  • Your contact details 
    • Nature of your business (if applicable)  
    • Vision/objectives that you have for the project 
    • Tenant/end-user details (if different from yours) 
    • Requirements for stakeholder consultation (if applicable)  
    • Confidentiality requirements 
  • Description of the project 
    • Details of location, size, estimated cost or budget 
    • Required outcomes 
    • Levels of quality required 
    • Clearly defined scope of services for each consultant 
  • List of team members / other contractors  
    • Organisation chart 
    • Responsibility matrix 
    • Likely method of contractor procurement 
  • Technical brief  
    • Relevant standards to be used 
    • Particular requirements for loading, services, future flexibility etc 
    • Particular requirement for durability, plant processes 
    • Requirements for internal/external peer reviews 
    • Particular or unusual site conditions 
    • Relevant statutory requirements 
    • The requirement to reuse existing plant/equipment/materials 
  • Timelines  
    • Breakdown of the design stages 
      • re-design studies 
      • schematic design 
      • developed design 
      • tender documentation 
    • Delivery of documentation 
    • Timelines for physical works 
    • Requirements for early occupation, partial completion etc 
    • Impact on existing operations/occupants 
    • Timelines for consents and approvals 
  • Attendance and reporting 
    • Requirements for attendance at and reporting to meetings/workshops by the consultant  
  • Deliverables  
    • Comprehensive lists of deliverables, eg reports, drawings, specification etc 
  • Construction monitoring 
    • Level /intensity of monitoring required  
  • Budget 
  • Information to be supplied by you (the client)  
    • Pre-project studies 
    • Survey/title information 
    • Geotechnical information  
  • Client approval process 
    • Process for approving the design during the documentation stages 
  • Scope/design variation 
  • Risk management 
    • How risks will be identified, managed and mitigated  
  • Quality assurance 
    • Level of quality assurance required 
    • Is a project-specific quality plan required? 
  • Contractual issues 
    • Conditions of engagement to be used  
    • Level of Professional Liability to be carried by consultant 
    • Level of Public Liability cover to be held by the consultant 
  • Health and safety 
    • Detail of site access and health and safety issues 

Selecting a consultant  

Once you've sent your brief to more than one firm, ask them to submit a proposal to you outlining their qualifications and capabilities. You can then review and create a shortlist of firms. Ask them to give you information on:  

  • previous experience and referees 
  • management and administration 
  • key personnel (availability) 
  • key support equipment and systems 
  • research and development or examples of innovation (a Gold, Silver or Merit winning project from the ACE Awards is the highest benchmark consulting engineers can achieve) 
  • project performance details 
  • quality assurance details 
  • life cycle costing skills 

Once you've decided on the firm you'd like to go with, start discussing your scope of work in detail, the services provided, and payment schedules.  

Preparing a contract 

For any job with a consultant or engineer, use one of our easy-to-use contract templates.  

Risk and insurance  

All consultants should identify any risks early on in the project. This could be things like bad weather affecting the timelines, or unavailability of a material causing the project cost to increase.  

Good project management from the beginning of a project should identify and minimise any risks.  

For large projects we recommend project insurance be taken out in the names of the client, contractor and consultant to ensure that the insurer responds to a loss. Parties should refer to their insurance advisers for information on the availability of such a policy and its appropriateness to the proposed works.  

All ACE New Zealand consultants carry professional Indemnity insurance which indemnifies the consultant in respect of liabilities arising from professional activities.  

The cost  

Each firm will set out their fees differently based on their qualifications, training, skill and experience brought to the job, plus an allowance for risk. There are several ways a consultant will set the cost of the job including:  

  • Time writing  
  • Percentage fee  
  • Cost-plus fixed fee  
  • Lump-sum  
  • Target price  
  • Retainer  

Discuss with your consultant how they charge and be clear from the start of the project. Be sure to also ask about how expenses are charged to the project.