I don't particularly want to get between Steve and Stan, but this week I seem
to be getting on most peoples nerves, so why not.
I tend to agree that Structural Engineering Consultants (which in California
include CE's who practice on sturctures, as well as SE's) have a wide range
of fee's as was previously discussed and debated with Mr. Stringer of CE
News. Our debates seemed to show that if you work in Northern California for
one of the large firms you would make much more than if you lived in the
desert and designed custom homes from a one man office.
In small practices fee's are based on competition and unless the competition
knows the general range of fee's we must compete in the blind and hope that
we can win the project. Some in the area figure just what they need to make
ends meet and this is how they bid. This is done often when a new engineer
hangs his shingles and must get work even if it means investing in lower
wages until his reputation is known.
I think that it is wrong not to set a range of fee's. It is not exactly price
fixing as these fee's can include extra's that someone elses fee's might not.
Remember, I've said this before as others have. Most industries have a set of
fee's that are considered reasonable fee's for services rendered. Doctors get
reimbursed by insurance companies on this basis and virtually every doctor
that I went to was willing to revise his billing based upon the insurance
industries term "reasonable fee's for services performed". This does not set
a fee, it establishes a baseline.
One of the problems facing engineers who practice on smaller jobs is the fact
that the Architect is legally allowed to practice engineering by the virtue
of the power of his stamp. He can and often does perform his own engineering
analysis (although this will probably change in seismic zones 3 and 4 due to
the complexity of the design). Therefore, he drives the price down as he
includes it in his fee or raises his fee even less than 50% of our fee.
We have barriers that help prevent us from simply raising our fee's and
hoping our reputations are enough to bring in new clients. Until we overcome
these obstacals, we don't have much chance of increasing our earning
Well, that's my $0.02 worth.