A large part of Cianci Engineering’s culture started with its founder, Paul S. Cianci, who lived by the motto, “Work on every project as if you were going to pay for it, and your children were going to live in it.” His words still ring true decades later through the reputation of his namesake company which is now run by his son Carl and grandson Paul. We spoke to Paul about the business as well as some of the nuances of engineering and why everyone should understand the importance of structure before getting into a building or renovating project.
Tell us about the company.
Cianci Engineering is a third-generation business. My father and grandfather, Carl and Paul, started the business in 1986, which was a continuation of my grandfather’s firm, Mayo & Cianci, PC. I joined the firm in 2015. We have been here in our West Hartford location on Hurlbut Street since 2006 and we love being part of this community.
At Cianci, we do structural engineering both in new design and forensics and we design, restore, and renovate for both residential and commercial properties. Residential renovations are very popular in the current economy as interest rates are high and many owners don’t want to move out of their homes. Our main focus is ensuring that structural integrity isn’t compromised, whether that’s a new build or a restoration.
What is unique about what you do?
Very few firms do both forensics and design but that comes in handy for our clients. When you’re designing a new building, it’s relatively straightforward because you can design for the currently adopted building code. But if you’re dealing with existing structures, it gets more involved. We use our knowledge and experience from the forensic side to streamline the whole design process. In addition to forensic investigations of existing structures, we also provide expert testimony in litigation matters.
What’s exciting about your industry right now?
Engineering is one of those professions that needs to keep a lot of records and we’re highly regulated, which can make certain processes more time-consuming. We created a proprietary software called SealPact which lets us digitize seals and files, enabling design professionals to digitally seal plans from anywhere on the globe. It also cuts down on paper and shipping, which is better for the environment and creates a lot of efficiencies from a time perspective.
What’s a big misconception about what you do?
There is a lot of confusion about what engineers do versus what architects do. Architects design the look and a lot of the practicalities such as clearance and accessibility. Engineers design the mechanics and the structural systems to make sure everything is sound. People often think they don’t need an engineer and sometimes they are right, but even if it’s a small project and a wall is going to come down, we should be involved to ensure the wall isn’t weight-bearing and that the structure will retain its integrity.
If you could teach every homeowner one thing, what would it be?
Most people make the mistake of starting a renovation with a contractor and then when the inspector reviews the work before issuing a Certificate of Occupancy (CO), they realize that an engineer is needed. I would rather have a homeowner come and talk to us first before any work starts. It’s both more cost-effective and it will ensure that there aren’t any structural issues that haven’t been accounted for. There is nothing worse than having to amend a design or put an unexpected and view-obstructing beam in an open-plan living area because of poor planning.
You’re located in the Design District. What do you love about the neighborhood?
I love how we have so many great small businesses and a lot of them are family-owned. It is a one-stop shop for residential projects, from the first step of engineering right through to the decor. People can rely on the experts here because they have the knowledge and are protective of their reputations. It is an amazing resource for the whole state of Connecticut and especially West Hartford.
Cianci Engineering is located at 53 Hurlbut Street in West Hartford and specializes in commercial and residential structural engineering. You can learn more about their business and the team at http://cianciengineering.com/.