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RE: Fee for Custom Residence

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Hi Sharlie,

*Now,* you are using the right word!  RESPONSIBILITY!  There is a big 
difference between accepting responsibility for designs, and accepting 
liability for anything that happens to the structure.  I accept 
responsibility for my designs.  I will not ever say that I am *liable* (which 
would indicate that I admit I am at fault) for anything that happens during 
or after construction.  If I have made a mistake, I will admit it, and I have 
done so many times, and if there is extra cost involved in correcting my 
mistake, I will pay my share for correcting the mistake.  I consider this my 
RESPONSIBILITY to my client and to the public.

Note that I have never in the previous paragraph said that I have admitted 
being at fault, nor have I said that I was not at fault.  Mistakes occur 
under the best of circumstances, and, as I am not a lawyer, it is my 
understanding the law recognizes that mistakes can be and are made, hence, 
you cannot be sued for making a mistake.  (Confirm this with your legal 
advisor.)  I have been told this by both a judge and lawyers in private 
practice.  (If you insist that you didn't make a mistake, that is a different 

A person who says he/she is liable when they put their seal on a drawing is 
admitting that he/she is at fault for anything that happens after the seal is 
applied.  Get out your checkbook!

In my previous post, I stated that insurance companies state, "Do not admit 
fault," in an accident.  I did not say to deny fault, nor did I say the other 
party was at fault.  At the time of an accident it is much too early to know 
who was at fault.  If I run a stop sign and another car hits me, am I at 
fault?  I ran the stop sign, didn't I?  However, if the other driver is 
traveling 90 miles an hour and comes around a curve, is intoxicated and on 
drugs, whose fault is it now?  If the other driver was traveling at or about 
the speed limit, there would not have been an accident.  I could have 
received a ticket for failing to obey a traffic control device; that would be 
a mistake that I made.

BTW, an architect's fee for a custom residence would probably be in the range 
of 12% to 15% of the construction cost.  That fee includes the structural, 
electrical, and mechanical engineers fees unless the architect had an 
arrangement with the owner for the owner to pay the engineering consultants 
directly.  The structural engineer's fee would be about 1.75% or more of the 
construction cost, not of the architect's fee.

For a typical architectural commercial building the structural cost of 
construction is approximately 15% to 25% of the total construction cost, 
excluding landscaping, of the project, therefore, the structural's fee should 
be about 15% to 25% of the architect's fee.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Sharlie Huffman wrote:

. > Of course not - and I agree with you on traffic accidents - it's always 
. > the other person's fault.

. > If you are not taking responsibility for the competency of your designs 
. > (not the whole project mind), why are you sealing them?  That's what the 
. > seal means.  No one runs into court waving their cheque book, but if you 
. > design for the wrong seismic zone (for example) and your structure falls 
. > down in a quake, I don't think yelling "I'm innocent" will get you very 
. > far, in front of your licensing body or in court. On fuzzier issues, you 
. > naturally make the best case you can.

. > My point was that when an building fails, people start looking at the
. > engineering faster than they look at the architecture.  Whether you admit
. > guilt or not or whether you are found guilty in court or not, you are more
. > likely to be the target of litigation than the architect.  Thus it seems a
. > little unfair that you should be paid 5%- 10% as much.

. > Sharlie Huffman, P.Eng.

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