Hiring an owner’s engineer? Better read this first!

If you plan to build or expand an industrial facility in North America, you may have heard of the term “owner’s engineer.” This consultant works with companies to oversee and manage their engineering projects from start to finish. But is hiring an owner’s engineer worth it? In this article we’ll explore the pros and cons of working with an owner’s Engineer in North America. From cost savings to potential drawbacks, we’ll help you decide whether this type of consultant is right for your project. Now relax and grab a coffee, and let’s get going!

owner's engineerWhat’s an Owner’s Engineer?

An Owner’s Engineer is a professional engineer or engineering firm hired by an industrial project owner to provide impartial technical advice and oversight during the development, design, construction, and operation phases of the project.

Owner’s Engineers are typically used on large, complex projects where an independent expert is required to represent the owner’s interests. They can be hired at any project stage but are often brought in during the early stages of planning and feasibility studies.

The role of an Owner’s Engineer is to provide objective and unbiased advice to the owner. They are not involved in the day-to-day management of the project and do not have a financial stake in its success or failure. This allows them to offer impartial advice and recommendations on all aspects of the project.

Owner’s Engineers can be extremely beneficial to owners, especially on large and complex projects. They provide an extra level of assurance that the project is being properly managed and that all decisions are being made in the owner’s best interests.

owner's engineers

The Pros of hiring an Owner’s Engineer

As the North American energy and power market continues to evolve, more and more utilities and independent energy producers are looking to hire an Owner’s Engineer (OE). OE is a specialized engineering consultant who provides objective advice and support to a project developer or owner during a project’s development, design, construction, and commissioning phases. There are many benefits of having an Owner’s Engineer on your team. Here are just a few:

  1. Objective Advice – One of the most critical roles of an Owner’s Engineer is to provide objective advice. They are not aligned with any company or vendor so they can offer unbiased recommendations. This is invaluable when making decisions about such a large and complex project.
  2. Experienced Support – An Owner’s Engineer brings a wealth of experience to the table. They have likely worked on similar projects in the past and can offer valuable insights and lessons learned.
  3. Cost Savings – In the long run, having an Owner’s Engineer can save you money. They will work with you to identify cost-saving opportunities and help you avoid costly mistakes.
  4. Time Savings – An Owner’s Engineer can also save you time by taking on some of the responsibilities of the project development process. This frees up your time to focus on other aspects of the project.

Overall, there are many advantages to having an Owner’s Engineer as part of your team.

The Cons of hiring an Owner’s Engineer

There are several disadvantages to having an Owner’s Engineer:

  1. The owner is responsible for all costs associated with the Owner’s Engineer, including fees, travel, and expenses.
  2. The Owner’s Engineer may be biased in favor of the owner or project developer rather than being impartial.
  3. The Owner’s Engineer may not have the same level of expertise as an independent consultant.
  4. The Owner’s Engineer may need to be more familiar with local regulations and codes, which could delay or hinder the project.

When is the best time to hire an Owner’s Engineer?

owner's engineer

If you are considering hiring an Owner’s Engineer for your North American project here are some factors to keep in mind:

  • The size, complexity, and risk associated with your project
  • Your in-house engineering expertise and availability
  • The level of involvement you want or need from an Owner’s Engineer
  • Your budget

If you have a large or complex project, hiring an Owner’s Engineer early on is best. They can provide valuable input during the conceptual or design phases and help you avoid potential problems down the road. If you have a smaller project or in-house engineering expertise available, you may not need to hire an Owner’s Engineer. But if you want or need someone to take a hands-on role in overseeing your project, hiring an Owner’s Engineer may be the way to go. Ultimately, the decision of when to hire an Owner’s Engineer comes down to your specific project needs and budget.

How to find the right Owner’s Engineer for your project

There are five key things to keep in mind when looking for an Owner’s Engineer for your project:

  1. Make sure they are registered and licensed to practice in the area where your project is located.
  2. Ask for references from previous clients and projects.
  3. Interview multiple candidates to get a sense of their experience, expertise, and approach to project management.
  4. Make sure you are comfortable with their communication style and that they are responsive to your questions and concerns.
  5. Get everything in writing before work begins, including a detailed scope of work and schedule of fees.


There are both pros and cons to engaging an Owner’s Engineer when working on infrastructure projects in North America. The decision as to whether this is the best route for a particular project will depend upon the specifics of each case. However, having access to experienced engineering professionals who have worked in the industry for many years can provide invaluable insight into potential issues and shortfalls during a project’s development phase, saving time and money in the long run.

Do you have a need for an owner’s engineer?

Vista Projects is an integrated engineering services firm able to assist with your owner’s engineering needs. With offices in Calgary, Alberta, and Houston, Texas, we help clients with customized system integration and engineering consulting across all core disciplines. Reach out today and someone from our sales team will talk to you about our engineering solutions!

Vista Projects is an integrated engineering services firm able to assist with your pipeline projects. With offices in Calgary, Alberta, Houston, Texas and Muscat, Oman, we help clients with customized system integration and engineering consulting across all core disciplines.

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