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Re: Fee for Custom Residence

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Jesse,

1%, 30K would be an absolute minimum, probably 1.5% or 45K is more
realistic.  We do not do much custom residential, typically only for
established clients, but some thoughts from experience....

Custom residential as you describe it is an art.  The detailing and fit of
the various elements will frequently drive the design.  To do the job
correctly can easily be more detail intensive than a 10 million dollar
commercial project.  Blending the different materials, developing a proper
load path, and providing enough detail and coordination can be extensive.
Also, even though it is a high end home, you will still end up working with
low end contractors.  You need to carefully estimate what the project will
really be in terms of time and effort and not just assign a basic percentage
cost to the project.  2% may be more appropriate.

Now with that said, there will always be someone out there who will be
willing to take the job for less.  Architects for custom residential will
create a structural (and mechanical) nightmare and still not understand why
the design fee should be higher for the engineer.  The value of good design
is that you will save the owner a small fortune in change orders and time by
insisting on enough fee to really do the job right.  You also have to insist
on an adequate schedule.  The question you need to answer is what level you
are willing to do the job for, and are you willing to accept this and still
do the job regardless of how badly the budget is blown.

Fee is a large part of why we don't do much custom residential.  We insist
on adequate compensation.  The few projects we do provide services for are
usually when the client has an established relationship and understands the
skill set and value we bring to the table.  Otherwise it is a hard market to
be competitive in, and mediocrity seems to be more readily accepted.


Paul Feather PE, SE
pfeather(--nospam--at)SE-Solutions.net
www.SE-Solutions.net
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jesse D. Moore" <jdmse(--nospam--at)cox.net>
To: "SEAINT" <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2003 6:35 AM
Subject: Fee for Custom Residence


> Good Morning
>
> What's a reasonable structural engineering fee for the following?:
>
> Custom residence...10,000 sf, La Jolla, CA
> Wood frame + some steel + possibly some structural conc. slab
> Spread footing foundation
> Two story + subterranean
> Some site wall design
> Structural calculations + working drawings
> Shop drawing review + three site visits + answer RFIs
>
> $3,000,000 project
>
> Thanks
> Jess
>
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