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Starting a structural consultancy? Avoid these 5 mistakes

structural consulting mistakes

Among all Civil engineering professionals, especially in the building sector, structural engineering has been a lucrative career option. Many site engineers and project managers, after some experience managing sites, start to take up construction works and wish to add structural design ability as a skill set in their consulting business. Structural design skills not just improves the confidence of civil engineers, it also helps them to avoid paying an external structural consultancy for the design services. Engineers also start up their own structural consultancy along with construction or civil engineering consultancy.

In the enthusiasm to establish the consulting business, Civil & structural engineers often make some crucial mistakes that hamper their ability to scale the business. It is important that the planning is meticulous so that you start getting the results soon. Many engineers fail and start thinking about going back to work. If you avoid some of the crucial mistakes, you don't have to do this.

Here are the main mistakes that Civil & Structural engineers make when they start their own structural consultancy. Other than technical mistakes, the emphasis is on points that have a direct impact on finances of the structural consultancy.

Not mastering the structural consulting nuances

structural consulting nuances

There are many engineers who build up their consulting portfolio while working and then slowly transform into a structural freelancer or a structural consultant. The experience while working allows them to master the nuances and slowly set up their own structural consulting business.

There are many others who just plunge into consulting or shift from slightly different fields like construction and then get stuck in consulting. It is very important that engineers master the nuances of consulting. It is very Important that you go through the entire structural design cycle of a complicated project. It is important to know how to deal with the structural design of irregular buildings, site issues, coordination issues and so on and also to implement this in ETABS. Many engineers start their business without realizing these challenges and then get stuck and confused.

If you wish to master all the technical aspects you need to know and then also get mentored on all aspects that makes you complete to start your own structural consulting, consider my mentoring.

Find your niche in  structural consultancy

Many engineers are seen as reluctant to say NO to a project , thinking, more number of projects is what matters the most. While you need projects, the sheer numbers are not what matters. The project should be rewarding and meaningful.

Engineers also try to get into different sectors like PEB and infrastructure and lose their way.

In my opinion, beginners should stick to RCC buildings which are a kind of bread and butter to any structural engineer. Focus on the delivery process and method and then get into other fields later. Stick to what you know and then try to find partner or collaborate with an associate for other projects were you are not an expert.

Not foreseeing additional structural works and its fee

Many engineers charge the fee as ‘’per square feet rate’’. When they account for this square feet, they consider only the main building area and do not foresee or account for other additional work like infrastructure development, compound walls , STP and quite a lot of civil works like drainages. Sometimes you miss to charge for the site visits, coordination time and so on. You will end up spending a lot of time and energy on this. You need to be good at identifying these additional works and time needed to spend and charge an appropriate fee.

You also need to agree the scope with a work order agreement, have a meticulous coordination method to avoid revisions and abortive works.

Not planning finances & cash flow

cash flow of your structural consultancy

It is very important to Plan your finances. In fact you need to plan your personal finance as well as the Consulting firms finance. You can easily do this by planning the work you are able to win deciding and sticking to Fe sticking to a fee you also need to estimate you are expenses roughly and understand your monthly revenue

in fact you also need to plan your personal finances by sticking to the basic principles of financial planning you need to clearly define your life goals both short term and long term plan for your emergency funds health and life insurance and also plan for your other key

goals if you don't do this you are likely to end up in trouble.

When it comes to your Consulting firm you also need to have clear understanding on the cash flow and decide if you meet the monthly requirements sometimes you are number of projects might be achieved but then you are payment maybe in stages and their could be delays in the star of the project or any unforeseen changes and you may not get period on time you need to factory in this when you are estimating your cash flow if you don't do all of these you might get stuck financially and then that might is correct you too force you your consulting help upcoming consultants to set up their own and if you need any help consider our entering programs

Not Diversifying the business

structural consultancy diversification

Based on your financial planning you will know your revenue forecast and expenditure. After this, you will be able to decide if a pure consulting business alone will fetch you the revenue that you are looking for. You diversify your consulting by including related business or activity into your consulting business. This could be one or many or all of the below items.

Freelancing for your previous employer or another established consultant.

Agreeing a retainer fee with an Architect or a builder so that you get a predictable monthly revenue.

Taking up regular site inspection for other consultants.

Increasing your scope of structural consulting works to include regular supervisory services.

Increasing your scope of structural consulting works to include bar bending schedule preparation as a scope thereby increasing the fee.

Taking up quality checks and snag list preparation before a building takes over by a client.

These are some of the diversification that you can do. There can be many more depending up on your skill set and situation. You need to estimate and decide what all areas of work you can and you are comfortable with. Also you may have to do additional work until you start getting the desired revenue from your main business. Once you start getting the desired results, you can decide which area of business you need to focus.


Many Civil and Structural engineers think that structural consulting is all about technical knowledge and project execution. They learn a little software and think that it is possible to establish themselves as a consultant. There are far more important things that decide your success as a consultant. You need to manage the business in different ways. It includes identifying the right niche and client. Unless and until you have a great understanding of the finances, you are unlikely to succeed.

There are many more similar things that decide your success. Want to learn more about it? I discuss all these in detail and help you out in my mentoring program. Consider for an incredible and comprehensive learning experience that enables you to set up your structural consultancy.


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