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Re: Fee Information Sharing

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Please see my comments embedded in your text:
In a message dated 7/4/99 11:03:37 AM Pacific Daylight Time, 
viacalx(--nospam--at) writes:

<< I agree with most of what you say about fee-sharing.  However, I thought
 the original problem (for us) started in the 70's with the Justice Dept.
 forcing the ASCE to no longer publish fee as %% of Cost curves.
 Several other thoughts you discussed:
 1.	Generic details (assuming they work) are good.  Repeatability lowers
 cost, and contractors get used to using them and are generally better at
 building them.  I worked for a firm that did a LOT of tilt-up design
 work and repeated several details on all jobs.  One of the local steel
 fab shops, who sold to many of the tilt-up contractors, would have
 workers fab up panel bottom connectors when work was otherwise slow. 
 They knew the connectors would be used soon when another tilt job came

** There are always standard details which represent conventional 
construction or interpretations of the written code (ie, double plate 
splices). However, too many engineers rely upon a standards sheet consisting 
of generic details that they expect covers all conditions - and the majority 
do not. Either the physical constraints of the design do not allow strict 
interpretation of the generic detail or the designer assumes that the 
contractor will know how to work around the physical problems.
I have seen details sheets of twenty details or more where the engineer has 
simply crossed out those that he felt were inadequate and left the rest.
The major problem comes when the detail represents a drag or chord or is to 
convey an load path. In this case every connection has to be verified so that 
the correct loads are passed and the straps or materials used have the 
capacity to transfer the loads.
I was pretty clear in my post that there are always standard details apply, 
but in wood framed wood construction where there is a great amount of 
creativity by the architect, a project can not be adequately represented by 
generic details.***

 2.	When the contractors low-bid those retrofit jobs, did their redesign
 figure (and make sense), or not?  If they could design/build for less
 then more power to them.  If they were cutting too many corners, then I
 would expect our profession to discuss the problem w/ local building
 officials and some control mechanism created - like adequate plan check.

*** The types of tricks used in URM retrofit include the following:
A design/construct firm is hired (or a contractor that provides engineering 
under  separate contract). Two sets of drawings are produced - one which 
represents the actual scope of work and another which represents an excessive 
overdesign. The design/build firm has a contract that allows the owner to 
obtain competitive bidding and provides the drawings that are overdesigned. 
The original design/construct firm low bids to assure that he gets the work, 
however, his low bid still represents a far greater profit over the well 
designed set. Of course, the design construct firm gets the contract and 
proceeds to submit the original set.

Trick two, An engineer is hired because of his reputation and the owners 
trust in his ability. The contractor experienced in URM work identified those 
area's of design that could be eliminated or reduced in scope that will meet 
code but may not be what the original engineer wanted. The contractor bids 
the project based upon his redesigned scope of work. The original engineer is 
out of the picture and the contractor submits the redesign without the owners 

I've seen every game in the book. This is what killed many good 
design/construct firms that could not compete with the games. In the end, the 
owner really only cared to take the low bid and you know that in this game, 
you get what you paid for.****
 When I look around our society, at the degree of standardization in
 consumer products and drive to lower costs, I'm amazed that more of this
 hasn't crept into our industry.  Mobile homes and metal buildings have
 only scratched the surface.  Should we thank the selling ability of
 architect's for the design diversity out there? 

*** I can see how in certain types of design there is room for 
standardization. I don't agree in area's of design such as wood construction 
where there is a great deal of architectural creativity involved. I 
specialize in this area and I think that there are approximately twenty of 
thirty "typical details" per job an closer to sixty specific details required 
to complete the job. 
I think we need to be very careful and responsible when we balance our design 
with a degree of standardization or provide the use of "Typical" type 
details. There are those that apply and there are those that don't but which 
are often abused to get the job out the money in.****


 Laurence Oeth, P.E >>