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Re: Design fee guidelines

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Yes, you and I are friends and I really don't think that any discussion here
can change that. And for those of you who are being amused on the sidelines by
this thread, Dennis and I have respect for each other as engineers.

I guess that my ideas were not consistent with my electronic pen on this one.
What I was really driving at was the need to educate the client as to what
services are being provided and not necessarily price (or fee). An
inexpensive, low-ball set of plans will lack the clarity and detail that a
more complete set of plans will provide. This vision, called the construction
documents, can lead to a smooth job completed on time, or a problem job, not
completed on time. In other words, you get what you pay for. If the owner can
clearly understand the difference in services provided, a more intelligent
decision can be made by the owner. A good client (owner) can understand
professionalism and quality and will more than likely go that route. A client
that you don't want to get involved with won't. However, sometimes the good
ones get sucked into price. Then the construction goes sour. At this moment
they wish that they had the good services. When the next project comes around,
they will remember this and give a call. If you don't believe me, it's
happened to me more than once or twice.

Next, in regards to value engineering. That was probably the wrong phase since
it carries with it negative conotations. Dennis, I too have been accused of
"over-engineering". This is mainly by low-ball hacks. I agree with 3x plates,
proper design for deflection on floor joists over 15 feet, etc. By saying
value engineering I didn't mean going through the code like a lawyer and using
loopholes to lower the quality of the building. What I meant was an
intelligent and experienced overview of the global structural design in the
beginning to ensure that the design ideas at inception weren't either bad or

This is what I meant by educating the owner and hopefully not allowing the
lowest fee to dictate the engineering selection. In other words, learn how to
sell services to get better fees.

Greg Riley PE