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Discussing Engineering Fee's

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         (__)                  Dennis S. Wish PE                    

Dear SEAINT Listservice, 

I attended a meeting of the Consulting Structural Engineers Society in Los 
Angeles two weeks ago. I was pleased to be invited as the guest speaker and 
found that I had much in common with the majority of the members who attended.
Before I get to my question, I would like to recommend CSES (which is now a 
symbiotic partner to SEAOSC  - representing their business chapter). CSES 
represents the practical business concerns of engineers and has been around , 
as I understand it, since the 1940's.  Their dues are very reasonable and 
their goals are to address the business side of structural engineering. I 
highly recommend this group as being worthy of your membership.
One of the traditions, again as I understand it as an outsider, was to pass 
around an architectural package and explanation of engineering scope of work. 
All of the engineers participating in this dinner meeting were asked to bid 
on the services. The results were announced during the dinner and a small 
discussion about the range of fee's resulted.

We have discussed these same concerns on our list but many feel that we are 
close to overstepping ourselves by discussing a taboo topic. After attending 
this meeting, I realized that we have every right to discuss our fee's and 
even to determine where our fee's should lie in relationship to the work 
The example project had a range of fees from less than 0.75% toover 2.5 % of 
the construction cost. The average in the meeting was closer to 1% which was 
considered by most in the meeting to be below par. The individual who 
presented the fee ranges indicated that he believed we should be getting 
closer to 1.5% of construction cost for services depending upon the 
difficulty of the scope of work.
How can we expect to meet this goal if we are not allowed to discuss fee 
ranges or set a range of fee's that accurately represents the amount of 
compensation that we believe we deserve as a professional group.

Why are other fee's (law, medical, insurance, cost of goods etc.) established 
within appropriate ranges but we are restricted from discussing our services? 
Is this a real concern or is a perceived threat that prevents us from 
determining an appropriate range of fees that we can all live within?

I believe we should discuss fee's more openly and establish a fair range of 
fee's for the services we provide.

Dennis S. Wish PE


Dennis S. Wish PE
Structural Engineering Consultant