What Are Good Questions to Ask in the Beginning Phase of a Project?

Baltimore Chapter member Frederick Koelber, with Burdette, Koehler, Murphy & Associates, recently asked our experts on ASPE Connect, “What are good questions to ask the architect, structural engineer, civil engineer, kitchen consultant, and owner in the beginning phase (discovery phase) of a project?”

While the answer depends on what the project is, our experts were more than willing to share the questions they typically ask for a variety of applications.

For new construction, Victoria Johnson recommends the following:

  • Which way does the sewer flow (civil utility)?
  • What is the building FFE and nearest sewer manhole rim height? Are those values still changeable if a BWV is needed?
  • Where is the water supply line?
  • Do they have a recent fire flow test?
  • Are we allowed to put the backflow inside? Is space planned for an exterior BFP hot box?
  • Are the fixtures flush valves or flush tanks? Floor-mount or wall-hung?
  • Are the fixtures manual RR or sensor? If sensor, are they battery or hardwired?

The first things Randle Eagan, CPD, wants to know about a new facility are:

  • Exact location and AHJ(s)
  • What will be done there?
  • Describe the process in detail if manufacturing or food processing
  • Number of employees and breakdown by sex if not the usual 50/50 (e.g., in heavy manufacturing where the ratio may be skewed)
  • Hours and days of operation

Shannon Meader has created a list of questions that she typically asks at the beginning of each project. For example, for kitchens she asks:

  • Will there be a dedicated water meter?
  • Will there be a dedicated gas meter?
  • Where will the grease interceptor be located?
  • Will there be a water filter? Who is to specify it? What will the filter water serve?
  • Does the dishwasher have a booster heater?
  • Will there be a softener for the water heater?
  • Does the dishwasher need a water hammer arrestor?

To download Shannon’s entire list, visit the discussion thread on ASPE Connect. Also, for more information on job preparation, drawings, and field checklists, see Plumbing Engineering Design Handbook, Volume 1, Chapter 5.

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