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Re: Contract Forms

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Javier,
 
A good source of sample contracts for structural engineering services is the Council of American Structural Engineers.  You can select, pay for and download CASE contracts from:
http://www.acec.org/case/index.html .  If you were insured for errors & omissions by DPIC, you would receive their Contract Guide, which is an excellent source of guidance for writing your contracts.  My contracts are largely based on those two sources. 
 
Client evaluation is very important.  Before taking a project you need to have a way of deciding the client's ability and intention to pay his bills.  Does the client have a realistic understanding of the project schedule and budget?  Does the client understand what your services will and will not provide?  Does the client have a reputation that you should be aware of and that should influence your decision to take on the project?  Why did the client come to you?  Does the client already have a contractor selected, and what can you find out about the contractor?
 
Don't believe that, just because you are a technical person, you are not good at paperwork.  You've got to get a handle on your contracts.  You've got to understand what you are offering to do, what you are agreeing to and then follow up and do it to the letter -- even if you've agreed to something that you find is taking you more time than you thought.  Build a reputation for doing well what you said you would do -- plus a bit more, if appropriate.  Good clients will come back, and will pass your name on to other good clients.
 
Nels Roselund
Structural Engineer
South San Gabriel, CA
njineer(--nospam--at)att.net