Making Sense of Preliminary Engineering Reports

Preliminary Engineering Reports are a necessary step for most projects. Learn more about what they entail.

Improving existing projects or even starting new ones around your community is quite an undertaking. No matter how good it is, you’ll have to handle different studies and contact the authorities, followed by the submission of various types of reports. One of the most important things you will have to draft is a preliminary engineering report. It indicates to the officials you’ve put in your work; that all you need is their approval to get the project off the ground. 

So, what is this preliminary engineering report, and why must you prepare one? Let’s find out. 

What is a PER, and why do you need one?

In simple terms, a Preliminary Engineering Report is an essential planning document. Its main purpose is to locate the most suitable construction project to help remedy a public safety, health, or environmental concern. In essence, a PER evaluates various aspects of a project, for instance, its condition, function, and capacity. A Preliminary Engineering Report is a vital document for various reasons, like

  • Assessing the conditions necessary for a project
  • Communicating the capital needs to all stakeholders involved
  • Evaluating alternatives to the project that can address needs
  • Prioritizing infrastructure upgrades

This report is almost always required to secure government funding for a capital improvement project, and the interest rate for loans is usually tied to the community’s income bracket where the project takes place. Note that you can typically enjoy interest rate deductions for environmentally friendly projects.  

What is the process of completing a PER?

How you complete a PER is attributable to whichever agency you apply to. You can draft a preliminary engineering report at a minimum of 7 steps. These are

  1. Project planning: This stage looks at the location, population trends, available environmental resources, and community engagement.
  2. Existing facilities: This net point reviews the history and condition of facilities, if existing. It also considers energy, water or waste audits, and the location. 
  3. Need for the project: Why is the project compulsory? It may be due to aging infrastructure, health, security, sanitation, or even moderate growth.
  4. Alternatives considered: Basically, a justification for your project. You’ll have to look at cost estimates, environmental impact, design criteria, potential construction problems, and more for the options examined.  
  5. Selection of an alternative: It goes well with the previous point. You’ll be examining the life cycle cost analysis and other non-monetary factors.
  6. The Alternative’s proposed project: A quick look into permit requirements, project schedule, preliminary project design, sustainability considerations, and more. 
  7. Conclusion and recommendations: Providing additional findings, recommendations, or consideration for the project development.

What is the cost of a PER, and what factors into calculating that cost?

There is no single number assignable to PER development, as it is dependent on several things. It all comprises the project’s scope and the complexity of the analysis. Also, the tools needed to effect a PER can inflate the cost. For example, if your project assessment has to rely on various software tools such as Biowin and Waterworks, you can expect the cost to rise. The required experts and personnel who submit the comprehensive report also add to this figure.

Covering PER drafting costs with Engineering Planning Grants

PERs can get expensive and usually hover in the thousands of dollars range, depending on the scope and size of the project. It’s not uncommon to come across impressive projects that can’t get off the ground because of a lack of funding. An Engineering Planning Grant can enable you to cover the costs of developing a PER. It is a significant boost and pressure relief, as it gives you time to source funds to complete your water quality, sewer, or wastewater project. 

If you are interested in learning more about Engineering Planning Grants or need assistance in applying for an EPG, email our Funding Manager at We are happy to provide an initial consultation at no cost, to discuss the options available to you for your project. The AES funding team has helped our clients secure millions of dollars in grant funding, and we can use our knowledge of existing funding sources to help guide your project.

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