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RE: Design fee guidelines

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In theory, your approach sounds good. Unfortunately, reality seldom speaks
to theory. In a lot of cases, the "better" the structural engineering, the
higher the construction costs are. This is often due to the fact that the
"good" structural design considers ALL the elements of the building code as
well as some judicious consideration of performance issues not necessarily
mandated by code. While this may be a rational approach (by the design
engineer as well as legal representation), the owner often interprets this
methodology as "over engineering".

To compensate, I believe we need to provide an ever expanding effort to
educate our clients with regards to "features and benefits" of a well
engineered structure. IMO, it would be prudent to become service oriented
and abandon "my way or the highway" attitude found in many engineering
firms. Those firms who appreciate and understand construction methods and
incorporate those considerations into their plans will generally have a more
grateful clientele.

Again, just my $0.02 and my opinion

Bill Allen

-----Original Message-----
From: GRileyPE(--nospam--at) [mailto:GRileyPE(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 1998 10:26 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Design fee guidelines

Dennis, et al.

I couldn't take it anymore and I had to jump in. Fees can be addressed in a
variety of ways. In my days at corporate hell (i.e. any organization greater
than 100 employees), the fees were figured based opun actual manhours times
multiplier (usually 2.65). This number was then compared to the total
construction cost. Since the competition were bidding in a similar fashion,
all washed out.

However, in the world of micro-hell, this is not possible since many of us
not believe that we have the power to dictate our fees, but rather that the
market determines our fees (in other words when an owner says that the fee
outrageous and they can get it for less we fold. Half a loaf being better
none). So we work for $1.99/hour.

What needs to be done is better negotiations. Owners (they ultimately pay
bills) view engineering as a line item on a bid similar to a quantitiy of
concrete. Therefore, their first reaction is to take the lesser bid. But, at
this point, it must be shown that the structural engineering design can
a large percentage of the construction cost well over the design fee. With
this in mind, show the owner that your services (not fees) will result in a
less expensive structural cost through value engineering and a good set of
plans that will limit the time and money lost due to change orders,
clarifications, etc. If the owner can be convinced that the structural
services (not fees) that you are proposing will lower the project's total
cost, then a reasonable owner will pay the premium for the service. If they
still can't be convinced, you don't want to work for them.

Remember, it is services and not fees that you must sell to the clients. And
if you don't believe me, ask Richard Meier what he got to do the Getty.

Greg Riley PE