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Fwd: Re: building code minimums for wood frame

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IteUrsi(--nospam--at)aol.com wrote:
Excerpts:
> << As long as there is this type of rationale used to set our fee
structure,
> is it any wonder the client feels he should "shop" around.  We have
ourselves
> to blame and also, personally I feel in addition we have gotten little
> support in the area of proper fee structures from SEAOC.>>
> 
> Before feeling too sorry for ourselves, we need to keep in mind that things
> are no better in other fee-for-service disciplines as well.  In my family
> there is a CPA, an attorney, and a MD.  All of them have worked for large
and
> small organizations.  I can say with definite knowledge that fee-setting
> practices in those professions are no more rational, fair, or
"professional"
> than in engineering.  In fact, there are much greater variations, with
> effective hourly rates ranging from the low one-hundreds to the
> tens-of-thousands.

Not that I'm interested in comparing fees with CPAs, ATTYs or MDs
(although
the pass rate for the SE exam is much lower than the BAR and E&O
insurance
rate/$1,000 billings is higher than a General Practice MD), I'm more
concerned
with the percentage of the A-E fee. Most engineers don't ask (I do), but
I believe
it is difficult to get much more than 20%-25% of the total. When
comparing
the time (both direct and indirect-research, seminars, etc.) and
liability,
this fee is not in correct proportion. For example, from the little bit
of
surveying (market, not Civil), a design fee for a custom house can be
between
$20K and $30K. What are we charging for the structural engineering
services?

> <<<I agree with your comments on how you arrive at a fee structure,  and I
> don't know if that should change even if it could. I'm a  big fan of the
free
> enterprise system...I think SEAOC has fallen short in promoting the
> PROFESSIONALS vs. the profession.>>>
> 
> A sure way to increase the *average* compensation of a profession is to
> increase the public's esteem and valuation of the services it provides.  In
> the old USSR, engineers were paid more than doctors, mainly because
> production of goods was viewed as more valuable to society than personal
> services.  A different relative-worth paradigm operates in this country.
>  Changing the paradigm is difficult at best because the supply/demand
> principle still has to operate.  I just hired a COBOL consultant to help
with
> our "Year 2000" problem (our large and complex computer applications are
> written in that old language), at $200 per hour, the demand-driven rate at
> the moment for such folks.  That figure is likely higher than I or most
> readers of this listserv can command.

I totally agree with you. But, if I've gotten stones thrown at me for
some of
my more mundane, topics can you imagine what would happen if I suggested
that SEAOC hire a marketing firm to create "infomercials" about the
importance
of the Structural Engineer on a project?

> We need to remember more often the non-monetary satisfaction we receive
from
> our work, those moments when we drive by a completed project and think to
> ourselves or point out to our family that we contributed to something that
is
> tangible, useful to society, and longlasting (whether or not our name
appears
> on a building credit plaque).  Particularly enjoyable are those projects
> where we came up with economical or elegant solutions to difficult
> challenges.  This 'psychic' component of the total compensation is higher
in
> engineering than in most fields.  As I recall, a WSJ article on the subject
> some time ago said the burnout/dropout rates among engineers 5 years out of
> school were fairly low, while the percentages for lawyers and auditors were
> over 33%.  The pressures for billable hours in the early years of their
> careers, coupled with unsatisfying and tedious grunt work (such as legal
> research), were the reasons cited most often by the departed folks.

We should have both; and not be shy about asking for it. All too often
this
intellectual satisfaction is merely a rationalization. We have studied
hard and
worked hard to learn our profession. There are life safety issues at
stake. We
should be properly compensated.

> We can take solace that some high-paying professions need that balm to
offset
> low public esteem.  What is the only difference between a lawyer and a
> vulture?   Ans:  The vulture doesn't get frequent flyer miles.

What kind of public esteem can we generate if we are willing to do a
"calc and
sketch" on a one story single family residence for 500 bucks?

Regards,
Bill Allen


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Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 15:21:43 -0800
From: Bill Allen <ballense(--nospam--at)concentric.net>
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Richard Lewis, P.E.
Missionary TECH Team
rlewis(--nospam--at)techteam.org

The service mission like-minded Christian organizations
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