8 Professionals You Need to Plan a Building

In order to properly plan a building a number of different professional disciplines will be required. This list is for a typical large commercial building, for smaller buildings and homes some of these professionals aren’t required. We also created the list for Ontario building projects, however it may be applicable to most projects in Canada and North America. This is not meant to be a break down of responsibilities within a profession, often at times roles can be taken on by other qualified professionals. Roles within a project often vary depending on who the prime consultant is. The prime consultant can be any of these professions.

1. Ontario Licensed Surveyor  

  1. Determines property lines, severing land for new lots.
  2. Topographic survey of existing terrain.
  3. Building Location Survey of all existing data.
  4. Determining the building envelope to comply with municipal by-laws.
  5. Drainage plans.

Ontario Licensed Surveyors (OLS) are responsible for determining the property lines for a building a lot. For new construction, they will complete a topographic (topo) and building location survey (BLS) in order to get a elevation data and all existing data on the property. The property survey, topo and BLS can be completed all at the same time for some cost savings. Sometimes engineering firms will conduct the topo and BLS, however only an OLS can determine property lines. Determining the property lines is required in order to find the building envelope of the lot. The building envelope takes into consideration any municipal by-laws and set backs the property may be subject to. In all new construction projects a recent property survey is required. A topo and BLS is not necessarily required but will assist the designers during the planning phase of the project. An OLS can also create a drainage plan under the Drainage Act, however this work is usually covered by a civil engineer.

2. Architects

  1. Design, layout and aesthetics of the building.
  2. Preparation of construction documents (building permit).
  3. Insures compliance with all parts of the Ontario Building Code.
  4. Construction Administration.

The Ontario Association of Architects is the self-regulating organization that governs the practice of architecture in Ontario.  Architectural services include design, preparation of construction documents and construction administration. During the planning the architect will determine floor layouts, elevations, finishes etc. Architects will ensure the finished building has the aesthetics required to the client’s needs. Architects will also ensure that the building conforms to all parts of the Ontario Building Code. Building code compliance would include making sure there are enough fire exits and travel distances are adequate, conformance to accessibility standards, environmental separation, etc.

3. Architectural Technologists

  1. Design, layout and aesthetics of a building.
  2. Drafting and production of construction documents and specifications.

Architectural technologists provide design services for construction projects. The Association of Architectural Technologists of Ontario governs this profession. Architectural provide the drafting support and are knowledgeable in the application of the building. Architectural technologists can authorize designs under a Building Code Identification Number (BCIN).

4. Civil Engineers

  1. Drainage design for the site.
  2. Building drainage design.
  3. Determine site works and finished grades.
  4. Parking lots, roadways and curbing.
  5. Determine water and septic service requirements.

All engineers are required to have a Professional Engineer’s License issued by Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO). Civil engineers are predominately responsible for ensuring water on site is properly accounted for. A civil engineer will determine how much surface water the site collects and where it should go. Runoff is mitigated either through sewers or surface drainage systems such as ditches. Civil engineers will also determine the final site plan and locations of parking lots, roadways and concrete curbing.

5. Structural Engineers

  1. Determine loads the building is subject to.
  2. Design of structural elements within a building.
  3. Creates structural specifications.

Structural engineers are responsible for the portion of the building that resists the environmental loads. Structural engineers will determine the weight (dead load), occupancy (live load), snow load, wind load and seismic (earthquake) load. These loads will be analyzed to determine the size of the structural members such as the beams and columns. The loads are calculated based on the Ontario Building Code and vary depending on the building. The structural members can be any material including wood, steel and concrete, various materials are governed by CSA codes. The structural engineer will also write specifications for the structure to ensure the building is built to the CSA material code and best practices.

6. Mechanical Engineers

  1. Determine heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) requirements.
  2. Determine plumbing and septic requirements.
  3. Construction specifications for required equipment.

Mechanical engineers are responsible for the HVAC and plumbing requirements of the building. Mechanical units will be sized and specified based on the building to ensure the building is properly heated and cooled. Mechanical engineers may also determine plumbing and septic requirements.

7. Electrical Engineers

  1. Power and electricity requirements.
  2. Lighting system.

Electrical engineers will determine how much power the building requires and coordinate with the local utility. They may also assist the architect in determining the lighting requirements.

8. More

There are many more professionals that may be responsible for various aspects of a building depending on the complexity some these include:

  1. Environmental engineers and conservation authority.
  2. Communications, IT and security consultants.
  3. Building envelope specialist.


It takes many professional to plan and design a building. Consultant fees can vary between 10% to 30% of the total building cost. Be sure to check our construction checklist for help with starting a project. IN Engineering is a structural engineering firm, however we do have access to all of the consultants listed above should you require assistance in finding qualified professionals. In Eastern Ontario be sure to consult with LG Approved for a list of professionals for your building project.

1 Comment

  1. Great Post.!!!!
    Thanks for sharing this post with us it was really very informative and quite helpful for my small research.
    Thanks again.


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