Handex Insights

5 Things to Look for When Hiring an Environmental Firm

Written by Robert Sevret | May 4, 2016

two engineers

Environmental firms are often hired for their knowledge and experience in dealing with environmental work and regulations. However, not all firms are the same and finding the right partner for your project can be a bit of a challenge. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating different environmental firms:

1. Experience

Not all environmental firms will have the type of experience required for your project. Take a look at their website and see what their main competencies are. You can also ask for a couple references from their partners. A good firm will gladly put you in touch with some of their longstanding clients. If they are not able to do this, it is a good sign that they are not cooperative, or do not have any expertise in the area you are hiring them for.

Here are a few questions you can ask to get a feel for the type of experience the firm has:

  • How long have they been doing environmental work?
  • Are they familiar with your state's’ regulations and permitting requirements?
  • Do they have experience working on projects similar to yours?

2. Availability of Resources

Potential environmental partners should have all or most of the necessary resources available to complete the project. This includes having adequate staff, equipment and expertise. If the firm you are working with does not have these resources available, they will need to hire a subcontractor which can increase your costs and delay completion. Ask for current resumes of all staff who will be assigned to your project and request references for the project manager.

3. Licenses

In order to provide particular services, engineering firms need to be licensed by the state. This is to protect the public from potential disasters caused by inadequate work. Not every engineer needs to be licensed, but a licensed engineer needs to be present on site to supervise the work being done.

4. Checklist of Criteria

When searching for an environmental firm to partner with, remember that site assessments and regulatory services are complicated processes that can take over a year to complete. Here is a checklist of criteria to consider when making your decision:

  • Time Estimates – Your partner should be able to provide an accurate time estimate for project completion. Even better is if they utilize tracking tools to monitor progress at each individual stage.

  • Proposal Amounts – Evaluate the cost proposal they give you and remember that the cheapest firm is not always the best option. Many times, these are the firms that come with hidden costs and may actually cost more in the long run.

  • Innovation – Your partner should be able to utilize a wide range of technologies and resources to get your project complete as efficiently as possible. They should also have a process in order for evaluating and eliminating risks throughout the process.

  • Warning Signs – Warning signs of a bad environmental firm include hard-selling, marginalizing or exaggerating problems, overly optimistic timelines, strong biases, unfamiliarity with regulations and more.

5. Services

Environmental work is notoriously complicated and involves many different facets. Firms to perform investigations, consultants to perform project oversight and consultants to supervise other consultants all cost money and delay communication. Environmental firms that integrate all these services provide greater flexibility and are generally more efficient.

Do Your Research

Do not be sold on the cheapest service without looking into the expertise, licenses and experience that a firm has. Remember that any mistakes your partner makes could end up becoming a liability for you and your company. Do some research and ask like-minded businesses for recommendations on firms they have worked with in the past.


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Written by Robert Sevret
Bobby Sevret is the Director of Client Relationships for Handex. He is responsible for relationship management and client development while providing construction management, technical oversight and support to the sales team.

Topics: Environmental Engineering