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PMP Associates Blog

Posts Tagged ‘civil engineer’

Septic System Construction – Do you need an Engineer?

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The local Board of Health has approved the plans for your Septic System; you have accepted a bid from a contractor and you are ready to start construction.

Do you need an engineer?

If you are working in Massachusetts, the answer is Yes!

The State Sanitary Code under Section 310CMR15.021 actually defines what your Engineer needs to do during the construction of the Septic System.

Here is a listing of the Tasks that your engineer needs to do.

Task 1 – The engineer needs to observe and confirm the initial excavation of the system area.

Bottom of Excavation

Bottom of Excavation

Task 2 – The engineer needs to observe the construction / installation of the system components (Septic Tank, Distribution Box & Leaching System).

Septic tank installation

Septic tank installation

Task 3 – Prior to the contractor back-filling the system, the engineer needs to take measurements of the constructed system components (location and elevation) to confirm that the components were installed in accordance with the approved plan.

Leaching Chamber System Construction

Leaching Chamber System Construction

Task 4 – The engineer needs perform additional measurements when a system has grading to prevent “break-out” in order to confirm that the grading was constructed properly.

Final grading over Septic System

Final grading over Septic System

Task 5 – The engineer needs to prepare an “as-built” plan for the constructed system and submit the “as-built” plan to the local approving authority (Board of Health for example) along with a form that clearly states that the system has been properly constructed.

During these tasks, the local Health Agent also visits the construction site to make observations of the work progress.

The contractor also has to submit a form stating the construction of the system has been properly completed.

Once all these tasks are done, the local approving authority can issue the Certificate of Compliance.

FACEBOOK……..Yes we are on Facebook!

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Are You on Facebook?   We are!

P.M.P. Associates, LLC has now created a primary page

P.M.P. Associates, LLC – Civil Engineering & Land Planning

and still has the two initial pages:

Civil Engineering & Land Planning by P.M.P. Associates, LLC

and

Septic System Design by P.M.P. Associates, LLC

Why not become a fan and also subscribe to the RSS feed?

You can also “check in” at P.M.P. Associates, LLC

The professional staff at P.M.P. Associates, LLC also have an individual presence on Facebook.

Septic System Design by a Professional Civil Engineer

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Why do you need to hire a Professional Civil Engineer to design a Septic System?

How many times have I heard, “The man who pumps-out my tank said he uses a guy who can do the design for him directly and he can give me a design & construction deal that will save me money.” Does this sound too good to be true?  Have you ever heard the quote, “There’s a sucker born every minute“? (P.T. Barnum or David Hannum, you decide who said it first, but as a Tufts U. graduate, I vote for Barnum)

Everyone wants to save money. A recent “Close to Home Cartoon by John McPherson caught my attention.

WHEW! Let me guess: You\'re the guy who died in the septic tank explosion

When it comes to a failed Septic System, you need to get professional help.

While the man who runs the pumping truck has working experience regarding the “contents” of a septic tank, unless he is a Registered Sanitarian or a Civil Engineer, he is not qualified to prepare a septic system repair design in most States.

A qualified professional will be able to provide you with design alternatives and assist you in the selection of an installation contractor when you get price quotes based on the design plans. A qualified professional will work directly for you, not work for or be paid by the contractor (Does the phrase, “conflict of interest” mean anything?)

Please download this Free Pamphlet – “Valuable Information on Title 5 Septic System Perc. Testing,
Soil Evaluation & Design Engineering” by Michael E. Perrault, P.E.

This pamphlet was specifically designed as a checklist to assist you, as a property owner, in the steps needed to have a replacement septic system designed, etc.

Trade Shows – Are they for Civil Engineers?

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

By Michael Perrault, P.E.

My first real experience as a participant in a “Trade Show” was with the local community business association. They decided to hold a trade show on the Town Common in September on the same day as the opening day for the fall community soccer program. The soccer program, in our Town, has an opening day parade for about 1,500 children of all ages, that ends at the Town Common. The business association hoped that the parents and the children would also stop by the big tent on the Common to visit the tables being manned by the various merchants in the Town. In anticipation of that show, I created a nice display with photographs of typical engineering projects as well as technical promotional handouts, company pens and coffee mugs with our company logo, etc.

The business owners arrived early and set up their table displays with great anticipation. What happened that day was similar to a biblical story describing swarms of locusts devouring everything in sight. If it was not firmly attached it was gone, baby gone. Children grabbing every and any free item as quickly as possible. A well seasoned magician could not have made those items disappear as fast as they did that day.

Parents did wander through the tent at a more refined pace and sometimes paused at the booths to talk with the business owners. Even long time Town residents came by to say hello and some actually asked a few questions. Those same people in subsequent years stopped by and asked the same questions again.

The intent of the trade show was to have the townspeople become more aware of the local business and what they have to offer the community. If the overall quantity of pens and other “freebies” bearing the names of the various businesses that were distributed that day are considered, then the intent of the trade show was met, provided that the children shared their “booty” with their parents and these collected items were not confined to the kitchen junk drawer.

For several years I participated in this September trade show. Each year I updated the display, handouts and give-away items. After four years, I noticed that certain people became regular returning attendees, like the elderly Maine couple that returns every year to the Fryeburg Fair (you will have to ask me about this story, it’s worth the $10). Same questions asked and the same answers given.

With all the costs, time and effort made to prepare for these annual trade shows, I could not clearly state that my business received any new customers as a direct result from participating in the trade show.  When I decided, after several years, not to participate any longer in the local Business Association trade show, several of the business members were surprised. Of course they represent local Banks, Insurance Agencies, Restaurants and other similar businesses. Civil Engineering and Land Planning consulting firms are a little different from these types of local businesses.

The idea of doing another Trade Show was not on my top-ten list of things to do. However, I decided that a change of location, a different market target and new participants may have different results. The Metro South Chamber of Commerce was having a trade show / exhibition in conjunction with their annual awards luncheon. Being a member of this Chamber of Commerce, I thought that maybe this was an opportunity to network with other members that would be attending the luncheon meeting. The type of booth display, promotional handouts and “free’ items needed to be brought up to a more professional level as compared to the local show. The booth looked great and I was correct that members attending the luncheon would be present to visit the various displays on exhibit.

Experience is a harsh teacher. First, not all persons attending the luncheon arrived early enough to visit the various tables and displays, nor did a large number of these participants linger after lunch to view them either. Second, the total potential number of Chamber Members and Associates, etc. was limited to those people who chose to participate in the luncheon. Third, the reason that some people attended was simply that their boss bought a table for the luncheon and needed bodies to fill the empty seats. These casual participants, while not being interested in networking, became a new breed of trade show locusts.

What I did learn was to not hide in my display area, but to wander around and talk with the other businesses manning their own booths while leaving one person at my booth. The exchanging of business cards and brief introductions provided as many leads as the booth’s “raffle box”.

Having learned this valuable lesson, I experimented with a slightly different type of business exposition. One of the target markets for potential leads for a civil engineering and land planning consultant is the real estate sales industry. The Jack Conway Real Estate Company, who is probably the largest real estate firm in southeastern Massachusetts, holds an annual conference for their sales staff. This conference includes training seminars, workshops, presentations and a luncheon banquet. This conference includes a limited trade show exhibition area for businesses associated with the real estate industry. Having already made a presentation to over thirty sales managers, I thought that this show would be a good opportunity to re-introduce PMP Associates to not only the sales managers but to over a thousand sales professionals. New handouts and “freebies” that were associated with the real estate industry needed to be prepared and distributed. For this type of venue, the “raffle box” was quite valuable in harvesting business cards. Since all the participants are the “target”, it was important to feed these locusts. Since that day at the Jack Conway conference, I have been allowed to present a small seminar at six of the Jack Conway regional offices during a monthly sales associate meeting.

Since the experience with the Metro South Chamber was not everything that I had hoped, I decided to participate in the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. This one-day event had a luncheon for Chamber Members but the exposition hall was open to the general public. The event was well advertised and was well attended.  For this event I kept the “freebies” limited to avoid having the display look like a tornado blew through the hall. Because of the larger scale of this Expo, there were more opportunities to network with the other business and have these businesses visit my booth and hopefully gain a better understanding about what we as civil engineers do for our clientsPMP's Booth at Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce 2008 Business Expo

The photo to the right is the trade show booth at the Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce 2008 Business Expo.

The leading question, “Trade shows – Are they for civil engineers?” can not get a simple answer.

If the intent of the Trade Show is to generate new work, for example, a kitchen sales company at a Home Show, then my answer in NO.

If the intent is to be introduced and network with the other businesses participating in the Trade Show, then I have to ask, why did I spend the time and money? I could have just attended without manning a booth. Final answer on this one is also NO.

Participation in a Trade Show may be worthwhile if the intent is for a long term marketing program that combines networking and name recognition. This long term program can not be limited to an annual trade show but must be combined with monthly events.

Architects vs. Engineers

Saturday, May 10th, 2008

A group of engineers were gathered at a social function when the conversation drifted toward the subject of architects.  As each engineer spoke, the tale got worse and the complaints continued with only negative issues forming the consensus of this biased group of engineers.  The more enlightened engineer in this gathering, not wanting to cause a problem, remained silent.

I can only imagine the same social situation with a group of architects, when the conversation turns to the subject of engineers.  They probably have their own horror stories about engineers.  How engineers fail to communicate, miss deadlines and treat architects poorly – especially in front of their client.

Sounds more like a cat and dog situation, with natural instincts forming the general rule.  Even with cats and dogs, there are exceptions to the rules though.

Since the early 1980’s, I have had the opportunity to provide engineering services as part of our clients’ project team with architects, landscape architects, structural engineers, other civil engineers, mechanical engineers, traffic engineers, and electrical engineers. 

Not having been previously exposed to prejudicial opinions about architects, I formed my own opinions and working/professional relationships with architects on these project teams.  While there are some architects that are not focused on what the site civil engineer is designing; there are also engineers who are clueless as to the responsibilities of the project architect.  The old motivational phrase notes – “There is no I in TEAM.”  Both the engineer and the architect need to leave his/her personal opinions at home when working as a professional on a project team. When you, as an engineer, understand the needs of the project architect, and work to support those needs – then THE TEAM is addressing both the technical requirements and the overall goal of our client.

Having had good professional relationships with the many architects that I have worked with, must put me in the “cat and dog” exception category.  By being the “exception” and closely working with architects to provide the services necessary to meet the demands of a multi-discipline project, including the last minute design changes, has allowed the architect to focus on other project issues and most importantly, added to the overall satisfaction of the client.

I don’t know who said, “You are only as good as your next job”, but the phrase is so true for architects and their supporting engineers. When that “next job” arrives, who will the architect call to be part of the design team?