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How to Select an Engineer, Architect & Land Surveyor?

September 21,2020

What you need to know . . .

Introduction

Are you thinking about hiring an engineer, architect, landscape architect or a land surveyor on Guam?  Consumers and businesses often wish to construct or modify sites, buildings, or other structures.  The best approach is to hire either these professionals to plan, design, and observe the construction of these projects.

Working with a professional helps ensure that your project is designed properly.  The Guam Professional Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors (PEALS) Board examines, licenses, and regulates these professionals’ practice.  The Board’s mission is to protect the welfare of the public by ensuring the professional performance of those professionals licensed and registered to practice in Guam.

Purpose
The Board produced this pamphlet to provide the general public with a summary and guide to elements of the statutes, rules and regulations, and policies governing the engineering, architecture, landscape architecture, and land surveying design services on Guam, and to help with the sometimes complex and technical nature of professional services in their respective disciplines. 

  • what types of projects require a registered engineer, architect, landscape architect or a land surveyor;
  • how to find and select an engineer, an architect, a landscape architect or a land surveyor;
  • what the written contract between you and your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor should contain; and
  • stamping and sealing on documents

The Practice of Engineering

 Any person or business firms who uses the title of engineer, or engineering, or advertises to provide engineering services in Guam, must be registered as a Professional Engineer by this Board.
 

The Practice of Architecture

Any person or business firms who uses the title of architect or architecture, or advertises to provide architectural services in Guam, must be licensed as an Architect by this Board.
 

The Practice of Landscape Architect

Any person or business firms who uses the title of landscape architect or landscape architecture, or advertises to provide landscape architectural services in Guam, must be licensed as Landscape Architect by this Board.
 

The Practice of Land Surveying

Any person or business firms who uses the title of surveyor, or surveying, or advertises to provide surveying services in Guam, must be registered as a Professional Land Surveyor by this Board.  

Obtaining a license or registration as engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor requires the individual to demonstrate competence by passing the national examination, special civil seismic and the Guam Land matters exam (in the case of surveyors) as well as providing evidence of education and experience. 
 

Finding and Selecting a Professional

Start by obtaining the names of several registrants from more than one source.  You can ask for recommendations from people you know, or look in the yellow pages of the telephone directory.  You can also receive more information about the practice of engineering, architecture, landscape architecture and referrals from professional associations such as the Guam Society of Professional Engineers (GSPE), the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE), The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Guam Chapter, Guam Society of Professional Land Surveyors (GSPLS), and other professional societies.

Some engineers and architects specialize in designing certain types of structures such as single-family dwellings, multiple family-dwellings, commercial, institutional or industrial structures, while other design a variety of building types.  You may find it to your advantage to contact several architects or architectural firms.  The Guam PEALS Board does not maintain a referral service and cannot recommend engineers, architects, landscape architects or land surveyors, however, this Board can advise you if an engineer, architect, landscape architect, land surveyor or a business firm is currently registered and whether the Board has taken any disciplinary action against that professional.

After receiving referrals and recommendations from various sources, you will need to determine which professional will be able to provide the services you need at a cost you are willing to pay.

Prior to selecting an engineer, architect, landscape architect, land surveyor or business firm, you need to develop basic criteria for your project and provide this to that person or business firm you are considering to do or design your project.  Complete engineering, architectural, landscape architectural services can involve the engineer, architect or landscape architect from the inception of the project until the completion of construction and, in many cases, even beyond. 
 

Request for Information

To make sure you get the best qualified person for your project, you should request information on qualifications and experience from several individuals or firms.  After reviewing their qualifications, you may want to interview a number of them to determine their understanding of your project and your compatibility. 

In addition, you may call the Board or visit the Board’s website at www.guam-peals.org to verify the license and registration status of any engineer, architect, landscape architect, land surveyor or business firm you are considering.
 

The Contract for Professional Services

Since June 20, 2009, Guam’s registration law has required that any engineer, architect, landscape architect, and land surveyor who agrees to provide engineering, architectural, landscape architectural, land surveying and construction management services to a client must have a written contract; §32125.  The contract must be signed by the engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor and client prior to commencing services, unless the client knowingly states in writing that the services can be started before the contract is signed, or the client states in writing, after being informed about the statutory provision, that he does not want a written contract.

However, the Board recommends that you always have a written contract for design or surveying services with the professional registrant you selected.  Many engineers, architects, landscape architects, and land surveyors prepare their own contracts or have them prepared by an attorney.  Whatever contract is used for professional services, it is a legal document that binds you and the engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor to certain obligations for the life of the project and, in some cases, beyond project completion.  It should include the specific services that you and your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor have agreed upon and the conditions under which these services are to be rendered.  Otherwise, issues could arise that may be both expensive and time consuming to resolve.

Review the contract carefully.  It is your responsibility, along with the engineer’s, architect’s, landscape architect’s or land surveyor’s, to understand and follow the contract.  You, the owner, have the right to question and negotiate changes in the terms of the contract before signing it, even if it is a printed standard form.  Because it is a binding legal document, you may wish to have your legal counsel review the contract before you sign it. 

In addition, you should not make agreements with other parties regarding your project without first notifying the engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor with whom you have the primary agreement.
 

Stamping, Sealing and Signing Your Plans

Engineers, Architects, Landscape Architects and Land Surveyors have the primary responsibility for protecting health, safety and welfare of the general public. 

Documents submitted to Department of Public Works Building Permits & Inspection Section for review are required to be stamped, sealed and dated by a professional engineer, architect or landscape architect pursuant to the legal requirements for that design professional.

All engineering, architectural and landscape architectural drawings, plans, specifications, reports or other documents that are submitted for building permit must bear the following:
 

  • signature, date and stamp or seal of the engineer, architect, landscape architect,
  • signature, date and stamp or seal of the land surveyor (for survey map).
  • the date when the document was signed.
  • the expiration date of the registration.


Application for a building permit must also obtain clearance from the PEALS Board to ensure that the  professional’s license ( who seal or stamp the drawings and plans) is current and valid.  The PEALS Board also make sure that only applicable seal are applied on applicable drawings.

A survey map must be submitted with the Department of Land Management. Once its final, it should be recorded with the DLM.
 

Building Official at DPW

Building Officials at DPW One Stop enforce building code requirements which are designed to protect the public’s health, safety and welfare.  They depend on engineers and architects to deliver structures that meet code standards.  They rely on the PEALS Board to ensure that these professionals are competent.

The PEALS Board relies on the Building Officials to ensure that only properly licensed and registered professionals sign and prepare plans, drawings or maps.
 

Keeping Records

It is important to keep the written contract and a written record of all verbal communication with your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor related to the project.  Do not assume he will interpret everything you discuss with him or her the same way you do. 

You may also want to write memos or notes to yourself about the progress of the project.  Photographs or videotapes taken at regular intervals can be very useful in establishing a historical record of the project.  Make sure that you receive a copy of all documents you sign, and keep a copy of all documents you give to your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor.
 

What to do if a Problem Occurs with Your Project

You, the owner or consumer, have a right to receive careful and professional service from the engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor you hired.   Even if you have done everything possible to prevent problems, you may still encounter difficulties.  What should you do?

Discuss the problem thoroughly and calmly with your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor.  If he is violating your written contract, review the contract and other relevant documentation with him.  If your contract has a dispute resolution procedure, you should comply with it.  If you and your engineer, architect, landscape architect or land surveyor are unable to settle the problem, your next step should be to call or write the PEALS Board.
 

What Constitutes A Complaint

The PEALS Board has the power, duty, and authority to investigate alleged violations of the provisions of the registration law.

The Board has also the specific authority to receive and investigate complaints against its registrants and discipline those who violated the law.  The Board takes action against its registrants for:

  • fraud in obtaining or attempting to obtain or renew an individual’s license (registration) or renew a certificate of authorization (for business firms).
  • gross negligence, incompetency or misconduct in the practice of his profession.
  • conviction of any crime.
  • impersonation or use of an assumed or business name
  • fraud in the practice of his profession.
  • aiding unlawful practice
  • failure to accurately represent qualifications
  • signing, affixing or permitting the misuse of his name.

Disciplinary actions may include reprimand, license suspension, revocation, probation, fine, or levy a civil penalty in an amount of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000) for each offense.
 

How to File A Complaint

Call the Board (671/646-3113, 646-3115, 646-3138).  You will be sent a Complaint Form with instructions, or you may visit the Board’s office at , 718 N. Marine Corps Drive Ste 208, Upper Tumon, Guam and pick up a Complaint form.  Fill out the form describing the details of the situation to enforcement.  In order to investigate the complaint, you need to provide the Board with all the information you have about the problem.  You also need to provide the names, addresses, and contact information of other persons who know about the situation.  Return the form to the Board with any evidence to support your complaint.  Submit copies of all documentation that you believe will substantiate your complaint including plans, drawings, reports, contracts, letters, receipts, invoices, etc.
 

How will the Board Respond

After the Board receives your complaint, the Board staff will begin the review process.  If necessary, you will be asked to provide additional information.  Your complaint will be forwarded to the Board Investigator to begin the investigation by evaluation the professional aspects of your complaint.  The Investigator will interview the individual registrant of his side of the situation.  When the investigation of a complaint has been completed, it will be forwarded to the Executive Board Administrator for determination.  Depending on the determination made by the EBA, the complaint will be presented before the Board for final action.

If your complaint concerns something outside the Board’s jurisdiction, you will be notified it another governmental agency might be able to assist you.  Your complaint will be forwarded to that agency.

For additional information, call 671/646-3113 or 646-3115.


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