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RE: SE Fees for Building

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I don't think by the hour is the answer either.  It sounds like you are
starting with a losing plan.  Are you taking on projects at less than your
hourly rates?  One thing that has been pounded into me here is if you bill
less then your hourly rate then you are probably losing money.  Yes there is
overhead and some profit built into my hourly rate.  But the profit in the
hourly rate is not substantial.  The goal is to exceed the hourly rate and
use the hourly rate as the floor.  If you can't make your hourly rate, then
you are just losing money slowly instead of swiftly.  We do our best to walk
away if someone wants a fixed fee for less than our hourly rate.  Or, as I
mentioned before, change the scope to match the fee.

Not every job is perfect.  Sometimes we overshoot a budget and sometimes we
come in under (not often enough).  But if you only bill your hourly rate,
how can you make up for the losing jobs?  There will always be someone will
to do a cheaper -and less quality- job.  The trick is to match what the
client wants with what you can provide for the cost.  In the long run, the
clients we work for seam to respect that.  Don't sell yourself short.  I
don't think your client wants an engineer that will be out of business in 5
years because he can't turn a profit.

Now that I have said all this, let me point something out.  I am not an
owner where I work.  I do help prepare contracts and estimates with clients,
but they always go through one of the firm owners first.  It is very easy
for me to say "We need to walk away from this one".  I don't have to sign
the checks at the end of the month.  I respect the pressure this puts on
owners.  So the question becomes, do you want to live on the edge of no
profits (and worry about meeting payroll, retaining employees, etc.) or are
you willing to push for a little more and some breathing room?

As you can tell, this is a sensitive topic for me.  We constantly see
engineers undercut their fees then get into trouble designing the building.
Nobody wins with low fees - not even the building owners and clients.  They
just don't know it.

 - tirade / soapbox off -

Jake Watson, P.E.
Salt Lake City, UT

P.S. Keith this is really not pointed at you.  You just happen to be in the
area  :)

-----Original Message-----
From: Keith Fix [mailto:kefix(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 5:05 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: SE Fees for Building


People _in_ Arkansas _type_ "grammer" when they're trying to do structural
work
for a percentage of construction.

Stan is right about the mistake of basing fees on percentage of
construction,
but percentage of construction does provide some protection from expanding
project scopes.  Ideally we would all bill by the hour.  If anybody knows
how
to make that happen, let me know, and I'll quit undercutting your fees.

-Keith

--- "Caldwell, Stan" <scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com> wrote:
> Vic:
>
> To clarify, people is Arkansas say "grammer" when they mean "grammar". ;^>
>
> Stan
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Keith Fix [mailto:kefix(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2003 11:16 AM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
> Subject: Re: SE Fees for Building
>
>
> Would you clarify that last statement?  I got lost in the grammer.
>
> -Keith
>
> --- vicpeng <vicpeng(--nospam--at)telus.net> wrote:
>
> > With the new SER (Structural Engineer of Record) designation (in BC)
that
> > will become mandatory after 2007 for all structurals taking
responsibility
> > for buildings requiring professional architects, engineers, the fee rate
> may
> > take a jump.
> >
> > Thor A Tandy  P.Eng, MIPENZ
> > Victoria BC
> > Canada
> > e-mail: vicpeng(--nospam--at)telus.net
> >
> >
>
>
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