A Review and Assessment of Registration Requirements for Professional Engineers in Zambia

By Habeene Habeenzu Pr. Eng (ECSA)

Introduction

The role of an engineer in society is more than important. It is vital. It can mean the difference between life and death. Engineering is more than problem solving. It is problem solving that is effective and efficient. Effective because it goes to the heart of the problem. Efficient, because it is sustainable and there is as little waste as possible. “An engineer can do for a dollar what any fool can do for two.” (Arthur Mellen Wellington).

An engineer is answerable to the society he serves. The society must be sure that anyone designated an engineer will ensure their safety and quality of life is enhanced. It is for this reason that the profession is regulated and engineers are required to be competent.

The purpose of this article is to spur discussion on the competence requirements for registration of engineers in Zambia and compare with the international requirements by reviewing the requirements for registration in other countries recognized for engineering excellence internationally. I have chosen two which am familiar with, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Though biased towards civil engineering, the principals discussed are similar with registration requirements in other engineering fields.

The table below summarises the requirements for registration in the three countries reviewed.

Registration of Engineers in the United Kingdom (UK)

Engineering in the UK is regulated by the Engineering Council which operates under the authority of a Royal Charter. The Engineering Council sets the standard for competence and commitment and maintains the register of engineering professionals who have achieved the necessary level of competence and commitment in their respective category of registration. Registration is open to all engineers and technicians who can demonstrate competence and commitment to perform professional work to the necessary standard. [1] The required standard is set in the UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC), currently in its third edition, which for all engineering professionals covers the following five generic areas of competence and commitment:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Design and development of processes, systems, services and products
  • Responsibility, management or leadership
  • Communication and inter-personal skills
  • Professional commitment

The UKSPEC defines competence as the ability to carry out a task to an effective standard and requires the right level of knowledge, understanding and skill, and a professional attitude. Achieving competence is only the beginning to a lifelong commitment to continuous development and is appropriately recognized so and termed Initial Professional Development (IPD).

Commitment deals with acceptable behaviour, ethics and values with respect to the engineer’s accountability to society. In this regard the council requires that an engineer demonstrates his commitment to areas such as:

  • Complying with codes of conduct
  • Managing and applying safe systems of work
  • Undertaking engineering activities in a way that contributes to sustainable development
  • Carrying out CPD necessary to maintain and enhance competence
  • Actively participating within the profession.

To demonstrate that one has achieved the required competence, he has to undergo a peer review process called a Professional Review (PR).

The Engineering Council is empowered under the Royal Charter to license various institutions, known as licensed professional engineering institutions, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) to assess candidates for PR. So the first step to registration is membership to one of these licensed professional engineering institutions.

The Engineering Council requires that any claim of qualifications, experience or training must be accompanied by documentary evidence. To meet this, the ICE has developed a training scheme [2] which can be used to provide the necessary documentary evidence. The key players in the ICE training scheme are:

  • The employer;
  • The trainee; and
  • The ICE.

Normally, IPD is achieved while a trainee is in formal employment. Employers as part of their commitment to the profession are required to provide Supervising Civil Engineers (SCEs) to mentor trainees through their IPD. Employers may also assign a Delegated Engineer (DE) to assist the SCE. SCEs are assessed and approved for suitability by the ICE. For every trainee, the employer also enters into a training agreement which is registered with the ICE. The training agreement is basically a commitment by both the employer and the trainee that they will commit themselves to ensure that the trainee gets the best possible opportunities to complete the IPD. Should the trainee fail to live up to this agreement, the employer may terminate the agreement.

The ICE provides an online platform for the trainee to keep a record their experience, achievements and CPD activities. The ICE further provides a dedicated Membership Development Officer (MDO) who “is responsible for ensuring that the training is as effective as possible, in the short and long term.”

The trainee has a lot of support to successfully complete their IPD from the employer through the SCE and also from the ICE. None the less the trainee is expected to be proactive and take the initiative in gaining the right experience.

The trainee records their learning and experience against the set attributes i.e. training objectives, online. The SCE has access to this online record and validates it. The trainee further prepares quarterly reports for their training which form the basis for the quarterly meetings with their SCE. These reports cover the activities and what has been done during the period, the attributes that have been achieved and to what level the attributes have been achieved (The SCE may require the trainee to produce additional reports).

The level of achievement for a particular attribute is generally in three levels:

  • Knowledge- having a basic understanding and knowledge in the area of competence;
  • Experience- having achieved the attribute while under direct supervision of a registered professional;
  • Ability- successfully achieving the attribute without supervision.

The level required per attribute is dependent on the category of registration which is being aimed for. When the required level of competence is achieved for a particular attribute, the SCE signs off that attribute as achieved.

Annually the SCE is required to carry out an annual appraisal of the trainee’s progress. The SCE uses the online IPD record to assess the trainee’s progress towards achieving the required level of competence for each attribute. The annual appraisal is also used to set the goals for the next 12 months.

When all the attributes have been signed off as achieved, the SCE performs the training review which is the last stage of the training agreement. The purpose of this training review is to ensure that the trainee has:

  • Achieved the attributes required for the grade of membership they’re applying for
  • Completed the development reports (where required by the SCE)
  • Maintained the development action plan and personal development record and achieved the minimum number of hours of CPD needed for the grade of membership they are applying for.

When the training review and associated documents are finalised the trainee notifies the MDO who is then required to verify the completion.

With the IPD is complete, the trainee is ready for the Professional Review for registration. The Professional Review process comprises the following steps:

  • Initial Application
  • Professional Review submission
  • The Professional Review itself

The initial application includes submission of an application form, payment of the required fees and submission of what are termed sponsor questionnaires. Three sponsors are required to submit their recommendations directly to the ICE through a prescribed questionnaire. A sponsor is any engineering professional who is in an equal or high category than the trainee is applying for. The sponsor is essentially required to vouch for the trainee that “the candidate is a fit and proper person for admission to membership.”

When the initial application is deemed acceptable the trainee is then asked to submit a detailed submission for consideration and which includes:

  • The Professional Review report which demonstrates how the trainee has achieved the relevant attributes and includes a two-page CV;
  • Appendices
  • CPD records

The detailed submission is reviewed and if deemed adequate the trainee will be invited to attend the professional review where the trainee will be required to make a 15-minute presentation to reviewers based on a topic, or topics, covered in the trainees Professional Review Report.  The trainee will also be interviewed by the reviewers to “confirm that the trainee has achieved the required level of competence” as stated in his report.  The candidate will then be presented with two questions of which he will have to answer one.

Candidates are notified via email of the outcome of their PR review and simultaneously successful candidate’s names are published on ICE’s website.

Registration of Engineers in South Africa (SA)

Engineering in South Africa is regulated by a statutory body established by the Engineering Profession Act (EPA), 46 of 2000 called the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). Its core functions include accreditation of engineering programmes, registration of persons as professionals in specified categories, and the regulation of the practice of registered persons.

The process of registration of engineers is largely similar to that required by the Engineering Council of the UK. ECSA has developed discipline specific guidelines for professional registration for each discipline of Engineering.

In South Africa, graduates of engineering must apply to be registered as Candidate Engineers (CEs) with ECSA. Policy statement R2/1A Acceptable Engineering Work for Candidate Engineers for Registration as Professional Engineers describes the experience and practical training (competence) which a candidate is required to undergo to be registered as a professional engineer. [3]

The policy describes a professional engineer as those who “are concerned primarily with the progress of technology through innovation, creativity and change. Their work involves the application of a significant range of fundamental principles, enabling them to develop and apply new technologies, promote advanced designs and design methods, introduce new and more efficient production techniques, marketing and construction concepts, and pioneer new engineering services and management methods. They may be involved with the management and direction of high risk and resource intensive projects. Professional Engineers undertake and lead varied work that is essentially intellectual in nature, requiring discretion and judgement. Such work has its base in proficiencies and competencies derived from and extended by experience and research. It is concerned with cost effective, timely, reliable, safe, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sustainable outcomes.”

The policy encourages CEs to undertake structured practical training. This is achieved by ensuring that employees register a Commitment and Undertaking with ECSA and provide candidates individually, mentors to guide them through the process. Mentors are only required to be registered professional engineers to qualify as mentors. Experienced and mature professional technologists may be considered as mentors.

The discipline specific guidelines for civil engineers [4] details the process of training and is as summarized in the chart below:

The CEs training and development is recorded via a training schedule. The training schedule outlines in details the training objectives (attributes) which are designed to meet ECSA’s requirements for acceptable training. For Civil Engineers, the objectives in brief include:

  1. Professional Attributes (understanding the professional environment)
  • Understanding the statutory and the relationships between various engineering associations;
  • Code of professional conduct;
  • ECSA policy documents;
  1. Technical Competence
  • Developing an engineering brief;
  • Designing a solution;
  • Documentation;
  • Implementation;

There are four levels of competence and each training objective is assigned a required level. The levels of competence are:

  1. Appreciation- CEs must demonstrate that they have a general appreciation of the subject matter as well as of the reasons for its inclusion in the training programme.
  2. Knowledge- CEs must demonstrate that they have sufficient knowledge of how to carry out the processes that are necessary to meet the objectives. This knowledge would be in addition to “appreciation” mentioned in 1 above.
  3. Experience- CEs must demonstrate that they have, independently or under supervision, performed the processes relating to each objective. Experience of the relevant techniques and functions must be gained in addition to “appreciation” and “knowledge” mentioned in 1 and 2 above.
  4. Capability- CEs must demonstrate that they have the capability, independently or (at most) with limited guidance, of performing the process and making the decisions required to reach the objectives of each element and also that they have the capability of leading or supervising others in the process. This capability must be in addition to “appreciation”, “knowledge” and “experience” stated in 1, 2 and 3 above.

CEs’ progress are assessed through quarterly interviews with their mentors. All interviews are recorded on an interview form which forms part of application for the PR. Once the required level for a particular objective is achieved mentors are required to confirm by signing off that training objective.

CEs are required to submit regular training reports to their mentors which must follow the prescribed format and will also form part of the application for PR. Once all the training objectives have been achieved the CE is ready to apply for PR. The application for PR includes:

  • The application form;
  • Payment of the prescribed fees;
  • Membership of voluntary associations;
  • Completed training/experience reports and interview record;
  • Two referee reports(submitted directly to ECSA);
  • Engineering Report;
  • Proof of CPD.

When submitted, the application is first assessed for adequacy and if deemed acceptable, the CE will be called for the PR.

The PR is conducted by two reviewers and consists of a 15 minute presentation of the CEs experience, an interview to assess the competence of the CE and two written essays.

The reviewers will make their recommendations to a Professional Advisory Committee, composed of experienced engineers, who review the entire process the CE has undergone and they make recommendation to ECSA as to whether the CE has met the required standards for registration.

Registration of Engineers in Zambia

Engineering in Zambia is regulated by the Engineering Institute of Zambia (EIZ) established by The Engineering Institution of Zambia Act, 2010. The Act provides for the establishment of a registration board which is mandated to perform all the registration functions on behalf of the EIZ. The board is mandated under the act to prescribe the “knowledge, training and experience” required for registration. This requirement however has not been published but is generally understood as four years work experience.

Under the heading, “Who should Register?” on the EIZ website, it states:

“Any person who is academically qualified as an engineer and wishes to practice his profession in Zambia must apply to the Engineers’ Registration Board for registration.

Candidates applying for registration should submit the following:

  • Completed and signed application form prescribed by the Board.
  • Copy of EIZ membership certificate.
  • Two passport-size photographs.”

The EIZ website [5] further guides that one maybe registered as a Professional Engineer if that person:-

(a) has attended an approved university, college or school and holds a degree or other qualifications acceptable to the Engineering Council for this class of membership; and

(b) at, or not more than one year before the time of making the application for admission as a Professional Engineer, is or has been:-

(i) engaged in the administration, design, execution of professional work or research     of approved nature for a period of at least two years; or

(ii) employed as a lecturer or teacher for a period of at least four years inclusive of postgraduate training;

A person may, on application to the Council of Engineers be admitted as a Member if that

(c)  (i) either has undergone training in industry or at postgraduate level acceptable to the Engineering Council for a period of at least two years under an approved professional person; or satisfies the Engineering Council that he/she has other suitable professional training; and

(ii) has after such training, gained relevant experience of at least two years, one of which   should be in responsible position as determined by Council.

The approved nature or relevant experience is not defined.

The summary for registration of professional engineers in Zambia may be summarized as:

Conclusions and Recommendations

It is apparent from the above review that the process for registration of engineers in Zambia is inadequate and falls far below international standards. The process does not define the required competence nor the level of competence to be achieved. Further there is no mechanism to monitor or confirm that indeed an applicant has the required “relevant experience.” Yet, the EIZ in its vision aspires “to be a world class professional institution that promotes best engineering practice and technological innovations.” This vision can only be achieved with a world class membership. So long as reforms are not implemented to work towards achieving the minimum international standards for engineering competence, the vision will remain a farfetched dream (vision).

The high cost of public infrastructure can be directly related to poor engineering competence. As a result, the profile of engineering in Zambia will likewise continue to suffer low public confidence levels until the members themselves are held to a high standard of membership. We often complain amongst ourselves, “Why can’t we be like lawyers?”

Our fees will continue being undervalued and yet the same services by foreign engineers will gladly be paid at a premium. Further, complex engineering tasks will continue being the privy of foreign engineers and as a result local engineers will continue to suffer from low professional satisfaction.

The cost of poor quality engineering professionals is simply too great to ignore. So what can we do about it? I propose the following:

  1. The EIZ must immediately put international recognition as one of its strategic objectives and begin working towards achieving the minimum international requirements for competence and commitment. This is no easy task, but institutional mentorship to this end is readily available internationally.
  2. The Engineers registration board should define the vague terms “relevant experience” and “approved nature” by clearly defining what constitutes work of an approved nature or relevant experience. Further, mechanisms must be put in place to monitor and confirm that the required training experience has been achieved. Formal interviews (professional reviews) can also be conducted to assess applicants.
  3. The EIZ must begin mandatory mentorship of would be registered professional engineers. A pool of mentors can be obtained from the current Fellows of the institution. The EIZ can go further by mandating that anyone registered as a Fellow must mentor a minimum number of young engineering professionals.
  4. The EIZ must mandate CPD as a prerequisite for registration. Note that even continued professional membership in the UK and South Africa is dependent on members achieving the minimum levels of CPD in a particular period.

In conclusion, we should ever keep in view the public trust vouched to us. Engineers have a crucial role to play in the socio-economic progression of our society and we must do everything we can to ensure that the public benefits from adequately educated and trained engineers. We may build a road as an engineers, but at what cost to the public?

The title engineer is sacred. The honor we ascribe to the title, will show by the price we set to obtain it.

References

[1] E. Council, UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC), 2014.
[2] T. I. o. C. E. (ICE), ICE Training Scheme and Guidance, 2017.
[3] E. Engineering Council of South Africa, Policy Statement R2/1A- Acceptable Engineering Work for Candidate Engineers for Registration as Professional Engineers, 2004.
[4] E. Engineering Council of South Africa, Discipline Specific Guidelines: Civil Engineering.
[5] E. The Engineering Institute of Zambia, “Engineering Institute of Zambia Website,” November 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.eiz.org.zm/membership/membership-classes/.

 

 

 

Making the case for more (and better quality of) Technologists, Technicians and Artisans in Zambia.

By Habeene Habeenzu, Pr Eng.

Why do newly constructed roads fail and yet records of all the material and workmanship quality tests on these projects show that the materials and workmanship had passed quality tests? Why are South African engineering professionals preferred to Zambian engineering professionals? Can Zambian engineering professionals be trusted to undertake complex engineering tasks?

There are many answers and reasons that can be given to these questions. But for now, I would like to discuss one important aspect which is why we need to increase and improve the quality and quantity of technologists, technicians and other engineering professionals who support the engineer. I will generically refer to them as technicians. In a later posting I will discuss the route to professional registration.

The Engineering Team

To begin with we need to understand the concept of the “engineering team” of which technicians are a very import part of. The engineering team comprises the engineer, the engineering technologist, engineering technician and crafts person or artisan. To successfully accomplish an engineering task, a suitably qualified and appropriately experienced engineering team needs to be assembled. Technicians will be required to assist the engineer communicate and implement the engineering solution. Should there be a disconnect in the engineering team, it will usually show in a disconnect between the design and the implementation and will result in substandard engineering work.

The engineer is concerned with the “big picture” of things and as such should be a person who “can comprehend and apply an advanced knowledge of widely applied engineering principles in the solution of complex problems.” [1] He must understand why things are done in a certain way. This requires broad training and mentored practical experience. It is very difficult to take both the big picture view of things and the detailed view. Technicians fill in this role of taking the detailed view. Hence the engineer may design but technicians should make the designs work in the real world.

Technician training does not need to be as broad as that of an engineer as the technician’s work is more task-oriented. It should none the less give the technician deep knowledge in the practical aspects of their work. Good technicians may be more knowledgeable about the practical implementation of engineering tasks than engineers. It follows that three month training courses are not adequate training for technicians to allow them to find their right place in the engineering team. The same effort that is put to train engineers should be applied to train technicians.

Policy Statement 535 – Defining the Civil Engineering Team of the Association of American Engineers (ASCE) notes that Civil engineering (or any engineering for that matter), like other learned professions, consists of a work continuum with varying complexities that is most effectively accomplished by individuals with different ranges of responsibilities, qualifications, and work experience.

A Very Brief History of the Engineering Team

Encyclopaedia Britannica says the term engineer is derived from the Latin root, ingenerare, which means “to create.” It goes on to say “The early English verb engine meant “to contrive.” Thus the engines of war were devices such as catapults, floating bridges, and assault towers; their designer was the “engine-er,” or military engineer. The counterpart of the military engineer was the civil engineer, who applied essentially the same knowledge and skills to designing buildings, streets, water supplies, sewage systems, and other projects.”

Interestingly enough, encyclopaedia Britannica puts Imhotep as the first engineer known by name and achievement. He built King Djoser’s Step Pyramid at Saqqara around 2550 BC.

Figure 1: (left) Statuette of Imhotep; (Right) Djoser’s Step Pyramid (Source Wikimedia commons)

Early engineers used simple “empirical methods aided by arithmetic, geometry, and a smattering of physical science” to build remarkable wonders of engineering whose legacy endures today. [2] All these ancient wonders of engineering were the result of team work of the early engineering team. The engineers were required to have a good grasp of mathematics, geometry, and knowledge of available materials and how to maximise their use. These early engineers operated on the limited science available and mostly by trial and error. But above all, crucial to their success was their ability to work in teams. Looking into the organisation of labour to build the pyramids, archaeologist have concluded that ‘…the work was organised along tried and tested lines, designed to reduce the vast workforce and their almost overwhelming task to manageable proportions.’ [3]

With the increase in knowledge of the sciences, the development of calculus, in what may be termed the scientific revolution, from trial and error and training mostly by apprenticeship, engineers now applied the scientific knowledge and increasingly got their training in formal schools. “Civil engineering emerged as a separate discipline in the 18th century” [2] and in 1818 the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) was founded. It is the world’s first professional engineering body.

Great engineers of this time such as Islambard Brunel who is said to be “one of the most versatile and audacious engineers of the 19th century” [4], “…could never have achieved all he did without the substantial staff of skilled engineers, draughtsmen and clerks who worked for him.” [5] Brunel built bridges such as the Clifton Suspension Bridge (1864) and the Royal Albert Bridge (1859). He also built Ships, buildings, railways and tunnels.

Figure 2: (left) Clifton Suspension Bridge; (Right) Royal_Albert_Bridge (Source Wikimedia commons)

The industrial revolution brought with it the emergence of mechanical and electrical engineering, while the information age has spawned further branches of engineering such as IT and software engineers. The vast amount of knowledge now available has also transformed the engineering team such that a technologist role has evolved to fill the gap between the engineer and the technicians.

The Engineering Team in Zambia Today

For Engineering in Zambia to progress, we need to ensure that the engineering team is well catered for in terms of training, work experience and job satisfaction. For every engineer there needs to be two or more supporting engineering professionals who are qualified and well-motivated.

Data from EIZ shows a steady increase in membership growth among all categories of engineering professionals. Figure 2 below shows the membership comparative growth by category for the period 31-12-2011 to 31-12-2016.

Figure 3: Membership comparative growth by category for the period 31-12-2011 to 31-12-2016

However when data is viewed as a year on year percentage change, the data gives an interesting insight (See figures 4-7 below).

Figure 4: Percentage Change in Membership Growth for Engineers

Figure 5: Percentage Change in Membership Growth for Technologists

Figure 6: Percentage Change in Membership Growth for Technicians

Figure 7: Percentage Change in Membership Growth for Crafts Persons

What these graphs show is that the membership percentage growth for engineers is steady while for the rest of the engineering professionals membership percentage growth has fallen by alarming levels for both decrease in percentage growth and the rate of decline. We can safely conclude that there is much less motivation for technicians to register which has a direct bearing on the quality of the engineering teams.

What can we do to improve the quantity and quality of Technicians in Zambia?

Firstly we need to ensure that the training of technicians needs to be adequate. The vast amount of knowledge required today means that it has to be more intensive. More importantly it must address what may be termed the “whys and wherefores” of engineering work.

Technicians, should create their own society or strong branch within EIZ. These can take a form such as that of the American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians (ASCET). The ASCET states its mission statement as:

“The American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians provides opportunities for technicians and technologists to magnify their status as vital members of the engineering team.” [6]

Further, the EIZ should update its definitions of other engineering professionals who support the engineer as it is deficient in its current form. For example, the EIZ Act currently defines a technologist as:

“… an individual who has pursued a programme of study recognised by the Institution and has been awarded a Diploma in Technology or Engineering by a legally recognised qualification awarding body upon successful completion.” [7]

This definition is insufficient and does not recognise adequately the importance of the engineering technologist. In contrast, the ASCE defines the technologist as:

“Civil Engineering Technologist (CE Technologist) – A person who exerts a high level of judgment in the performance of engineering work, while working under the direct control and personal supervision of a CE Professional. A person initially obtains status as a CE Technologist through the completion of requisite formal education and experience and may include examination and other requirements as specified by a credentialing body. A person working as a CE Technologist can comprehend and apply knowledge of engineering principles in the solution of broadly defined problems.”

This comprehensive definition allows the ASCE to give better support to the technicians as can be seen from the Policy Statement 535 where it says “To effectively provide civil engineering services, the proper use of the entire civil engineering project team will become increasingly important in the future. ASCE believes it is essential to improve the utilization, recognition and support of technologists and technicians within the civil engineering project team.”

Conclusions

Technologists, technicians and craftsmen need to be life long careers and should be remunerated for what they bring to the team. It is important that they are well motivated. Graduate engineers should not earn more than well experienced technicians.

Engineering work is a continuum. No stage should be neglected. We should allow every member of the engineering team to play their roles and will allow each component to develop itself more fully. This way, with the right engineering team in place, the performance of newly constructed roads will be in harmony with construction records. Further with task oriented work safely handled by suitably qualified and experienced supporting engineering professionals, engineers will be able to concentrate on sharpening their skills for complex engineering tasks. An engineer should not design and spend more time producing AutoCAD drawings. This should be left to technicians who will become experts and so perform these tasks efficiently and continue to improve them over time.

References

[1] A. S. o. C. E. (ASCE), “Policy Statement 535 – Defining the Civil Engineering Team,” 2014.
[2] R. J. Smith, 15 August 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.britannica.com/technology/engineering.
[3] J. Tyldesley, “Pyramid-builders,” 15 August 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/pyramid_builders_01.shtml.
[4] “History, Isambard Kingdom Brunel,” 15 08 2017. [Online]. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/brunel_kingdom_isambard.shtml.
[5] S. Brindle, Brunel The Man Who Built the World, London: Phoenix, 2005.
[6] ASCET, 15 August 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.ascet.org/AboutUs.
[7] The Engineering Institution of Zambia Act, 2010.

 

 

Choosing Your Design Consultant

by Team ODC

With the advent of the modern computer and computer software, it has become very easy for anyone to pose as an engineer or architect. Computer graphics have made an engineer or architects job seem to many as one that anyone can do. And clients, often wishing to save money end up engaging people who are not qualified or experienced. But like the saying goes, if you pay peanuts, you end up with a monkey on your back.

6a00d8341c51c053ef013480ad6395970c-450wi Choosing the right designer is the most important step as you prepare to build your property. The cost of a good designer pays back itself in the form of lower construction costs, lower maintenance cost, user satisfaction and good resale value. That said engage a designer based on their experience, qualifications and demonstrated capacity. The ODC team has local and international experience and we tick all the right boxes. Engaging ODC is a smart investment.
As an example, a client, wishing to confirm his fears, approached us to review structural drawings for his proposed double story house. Our review resulted in savings of K26,988.37 for reinforcement bars and K27,388.80 for concrete. These savings exclude savings from unnecessary scaffolding, formwork, transportation, handling, storage, labour and time. Actual total savings are in the order of more than K75, 000. We see such scenarios over and over again with clients who have been deceived by computer graphics. If you have experience in building, or have built your own property you will appreciate the impact of a saving of K75, 000.desktop250-1

So as you embark on your project, remember that its worth investing in a good architect and engineer who will ensue that you get the best value for your money. Choose a design consultant with in-depth knowledge and experience. If you are looking for a qualified and experienced architect or structural engineer, contact us via email on info@odc.co.zm.

Design Professionals Operating in the Zambian Property Development Market

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Figure 1: ODC’s architects impression of a proposed residential development.

New property developers usually get overwhelmed and at times confused at the number of professionals they need to engage in order turn their dreams into a reality. A client can often be found asking an architect to prepare bill of quantities or structural drawings and are surprised to be told that they need to engage another professional to do it (this is usually after they have already paid considerable consultancy fees). To help first time property developers here is a list of professionals that you will most likely need to get you dream house or property done.

1- Architect

In our modern era, architects are responsible for the planning the layout and property land use, aesthetics, final “feel” and appearance of your property. When the plans are put on paper they are loosely called “drawings.” Typically architectural drawings will consist of:
• Location plans;
• Site plans;
• Floor plans;
• Roof plans;
• Elevations; and
• Sections and details.
In another blog we will discuss these drawings in more detail.
The architect will produce these drawings and should aid the client to submit them for approval to the relevant authorities. The architect can also assist the owner to acquire the services of a contractor to build the house. (Other professionals may also assist with this). The architect will also supervise the contractor as far as his architectural drawings dictate. He will not be able to confirm for example details from the structural engineer.
Architects come in all shapes and sizes and the profession has grown to include specializations such as landscape architects and interior designers. In Zambia, architects are regulated by the Zambia Institute of Architects (ZIA).

2- Structural Engineer

A structural engineer is responsible for the safety and stability of your property. (Think of it in terms of beams and columns). To understand what the difference is between what an architect does and what an engineer does, let’s use the human body as example. The appearance of the human body i.e. height, weight, mid-section size, eye colour etc… would be something that an architect does while the skeleton or frame that holds up the body is what a Structural Engineer does.
A Structural Engineer produces what are called structural drawings. These drawings detail the “skeleton” of the building. Some developments, like, invertebrates, do not require a “skeleton” per say. Usually, small, single story buildings built on firm ground can normally use standard details which do not need the structural engineers input. But if the soil conditions are poor such as building on soft clays, or more than one story is to be built, a structural engineer is required. The structural engineer will produce the structural drawings and will supervise the construction of the structural details. Usually this entails that the structural engineer will be involved until the skeleton of the building is complete.

Car Park Basement
Figure 2: Implementation of structural drawings on a project for a basement car park designed  by ODC

Engineering in Zambia is regulated by the Engineering Institute of Zambia.

3- Quantity Surveyor

Believe it or not, there is a difference between a cost estimate and a bill of quantities. A bill of quantities is a cost estimate but a cost estimate is not a bill of quantities (BOQ). A BOQ is a detailed document that is produced by a quantity surveyor who has taken at least four years of university education. All this education is necessary, because a BOQ consists of quantities and specifications prepared in accordance with the relevant standard methods of measurement. It results in a document that spells out exactly what needs to be done in terms of quality and workmanship. The BOQ then provides an excellent basis for pricing and selecting a contractor as all contractors be quoting based on a well-defined criteria for the amount of work to be done andexpected quality. Depending on the size and nature of a development, a client may require a simple cost estimate to be done by any professional with adequate building experience. But be warned, you may find that the actual cost may be three times higher than expected when a quantity surveyor is not engaged. For proper planning of resources the engagement of a quantity surveyor is highly recommended.

4- Services Engineer

Again depending on the size of the project an electrical and a mechanical engineer may be required. An electrical engineer (different from an electrician) will address the electricity needs and detail all the required electrical components. The mechanical engineer is usually required where heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are required. He will also address the plumbing requirements such as the location and size of water tank required.

5- Contractor

The contractor (registered with the National Council for Contractors,NCC) or “builder” (unregistered with NCC) turns the outputs from all the above mentioned professionals into a reality. A contractor will have a variety of equipment and personnel including brick layers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians etc… who will do the various kinds of work required. Usually contractors may not have all the required skills and may let out (Sub-contract) other works to another contractor. It is usually best to ensure that the contractor you engage can carry out the work or engage subcontractors on his own account.

Hopefully you now understand better the various construction professionals that exist and what they do. The construction industry is indeed vast and can be overwhelming. If you need the services of a well-qualified Architect or Structural Engineer contact us on info@odc.co.zm or engage with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/odcteam.