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Are you in the market for an engineer? As you might have guessed, there’s more to hiring someone than just plucking a name out of the Yellow Pages. You’ll need to be smart, thorough and detail-oriented if you’re serious about finding a design expert who can turn your dreams into reality. Here are just a few things to consider as you scout for potential engineering firms.

1. Determine Your Criteria

First things first: What qualities are you seeking in an engineer? Do they need to have a certain accreditation or industry ranking to prove that they’re trustworthy, or are you more concerned about price than reputation? What’s your bottom line? Figure it out before you start sifting through firms.

2. Make a Shortlist

Once you know what matters to you, it’s time to create a list of potential candidates. Try to narrow it down to less than five. The next step is completing in-depth research on these brands, and you don’t want to spend weeks constructing portfolios for a dozen different firms. Make sure that your shortlist is actually short.

3. Ask Them to Submit Proposals

Whether you’re looking for house builders or airport developers, a good engineering firm will want to seduce you just as much as you’re trying to seduce them. Don’t be afraid to ask for a proposal. Even if they aren’t willing to commit right away, they should be happy to open a dialogue with you if the project will be mutually beneficial to your interests.

4. Document Everything

Whether you’re dealing with civil engineering Seattle or something else entirely, it’s critical that you maintain a paper trail for all of your work. Keep track of receipts, briefs, blueprints, memos, schedules and expense forms. Organize them in binders if necessary. Don’t lose anything!

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you search for an engineering firm. Whether you’re building a simple model home or a high-traffic bridge that stretches across two states, it’s important to hire people that you can trust. Use these suggestions to make sure that you don’t regret your decision.