While the prospect of a self-build is undoubtedly exciting, it is also fraught with challenges that can turn your dream project into a nightmare if not managed correctly. A good design is one of the most crucial elements in ensuring success, and good design only comes from a good team.

Collaboration and communication are crucial in building design, as these individuals play a vital role in translating your vision into reality, ensuring the project runs smoothly from conception to completion.

We have vast experience working with the top professionals in self build sector and we know what qualities a team needs to have for a project to be successful. That’s why we’re here to tell you what a good design team looks like, and why they are fundamental.


As structural engineers, our role in the design process is to ensure your home will be strong, stable and safety compliant. To allow this be achieved efficiently means collaborating with not just the architect, but the civil engineer, building service engineer, architectural technologist and any other specialist designers to ensure the elements of your project fit together with ease.

Once the architect has identified the brief and created the initial design, the other team members then make their specialised contributions. These individuals must work together to carry your project through the stages as efficiently as possible.

Here is an overview of what qualities your design team should have:

 – Backed by relevant experience in similar projects and construction methods

– A long-standing relationship with each other

– Good communication skills

– A careful and coordinated approach

– Appreciation of the requirements of disciplines

Your design team should be made up of individuals who will bring the best out of your project. They should know how to work with each other, and how to work with you. For more information on appointing a design team for your self-build, click here.


The first assignment of your structural engineer in the design process is to coordinate an early review with the project architect. This is a fundamental step in which the design principles and the required scope of works are established. At ACS, we split our design stages to allow us to provide this input at planning stage without requiring the Client to commit to warrant stage design.

Each project starts with a project engineer who will be supported by a checking engineer, a CAD technician and an SER-certifying engineer in Scotland. On larger projects, another engineer may be brought on board for additional design support.

Although we play a major part in the design of your home, there are certain elements we cannot proceed with until we get input from the other designers. This is why communication is vital from the outset. Additionally, it’s important to assemble your design team as early in the process as possible

Do you have any question regarding your project?

Contact us, and we will help you move on with your Self Build dream!

This early review between architect and engineer is crucial to understanding the level of work your project requires. It helps us to understand the requirements of the building structure. This includes the location of the load-bearing walls, where the principles of the structure are working and any additional transfer structure requirements.

The early design review also involves a stability review which identifies what internal walls will be providing stability to the structure. Our engineers will also identify the floor to ceiling heights and establish the thermal requirements of the building with the architect.

Another crucial part of the design review is setting a location for your plant room (this where your MVHR system will be placed). The architect and engineer must liaise with the MVHR designer on the optimal location and how to effectively implement the system. This is another reason why your design team needs to be assembled early, so a location can be agreed, and the design work can continue.

Early design input, allows the Client to proceed with confidence through the planning process knowing that the main design considerations have been identified, minimising the risk of variations to the planning application that may have program and cost implications on your project.

Our input can extend far past design. Our engineers can also assist with main analysis, calculations and SER certification if required.


Collaboration in design is crucial, but knowing how to work with a self-build client is a quality that only comes from experience. Our company was created to bridge the gap between engineer and client, and 100 projects later, that’s still our goal.

Good communication with the self-builder gives them an understanding of how their project will progress from the outset, increasing their involvement in true self-build fashion.

We understand your desire to understand, and we are always available to offer structural advice in design or on-site. We allow time in our fee proposals for this.

A more traditional engineering service has no allowance for continued support, which can lead to hidden fees if that support is required. Our service was tailored to the self-builder, putting them at the forefront of the project.



A good design team has many qualities, but one of the most important is experience. Your structural engineer should have experience in projects like yours and be backed by an equally experienced design team.

AC Structures is backed by a team of dynamic and experienced engineers that can identify and mitigate potential risks and hazards early in the design process, reducing the likelihood of costly remedial work. Our engineers are also well-versed in building regulations and design to comply with all relevant regulations.

Our unique approach ensures the structure is either hidden or looks good on display, such as an exposed timber roof truss or a steel balcony structure.

 One of the first steps is deciding on which to proceed with. We can offer unbiased guidance on the structural implications of each construction method, helping you make an informed decision. We have contacts for SIPs, ICF and Timber kit manufacturers and can offer advice on which method is best for your project.

Not only do we work with the talented team at AC Architects, but we have also established relationships with several external architects through over the years, helping us create a strong network of self-build experts.

Do you have any question regarding your project?

Contact us, and we will help you move on with your Self Build dream!

A good design team is indispensable for a successful self-build. Their collaborative efforts ensure that the project stays in budget, adheres to regulations and meets the client brief. That’s why investing in in the right professionals will help you to not only meet but exceed expectations.

Seeking structural advice for your self-build project? Don’t hesitate to get in contact with one of our experts today!