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RE: Retaining wall fees

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The fees I mentioned were for complete "shop drawings", including full wall
elevations and plans, grid reinforcing location and length, quantities of
units, backfill, and reinforcing, various wall sections, etc.  On a straight
wall of uniform height you make a lot of money.  On a complicated wall with
multiple terraces, jogs, stepped heights, planter "bump-outs", penetrations,
etc., you barely break even.

If all you're doing is a few concrete wall section details, and the wall is
fairly uniform, then your fee is more than reasonable.  Adding a plan
indicating dimensions and top-of-concrete elevations would add more fee.
Adding elevation views and quantities would add much more.

Jason Kilgore
Leigh & O'Kane, LLC
Kansas City, Missouri

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dennis Wish [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 10:39 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: Retaining wall fees
> Considering the time savings using software like RetainPro, I have never
> had
> to charge more than $350.00 for one wall section - including the drawings.
> However, I charge the same fee for each different wall section on the
> property as the time to accumulate the information and details - even with
> the help of RetainPro takes as much time as the first wall section (about
> 2+
> hours of design and detailing time). This includes interpretation of the
> soils report, acceptance of a minimum soil value by code in lieu of a
> soils
> report and does not consider unique walls such as those set on piles or
> other exceeding 12-feet in height.
> I suppose I could charge what I want, but if I want to continue to work, I
> need to consider what the competition will charge. Whether I use RetainPro
> or other software that is ten times more expensive in the design process,
> I
> can't amortize the cost of the software into each project - so I have to
> look at the time it takes to complete the project and what my hourly fee
> is
> worth.
> Having RetainPro as a tool simply gave me the tools I need to compete with
> engineers who are using other retaining wall software. Doing it manually
> is
> not an option - any more than manual drafting. Charging the client by the
> square foot of total walls when you need only design 1-foot wide section
> depending on soil changes and retained heights is not an option here.
> Dennis
> Dennis S. Wish, PE
> California Professional Engineer
> Structural Engineering Consultant
> dennis.wish(--nospam--at)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jason W. Kilgore [mailto:jkilgore(--nospam--at)]
> Sent: Thursday, May 27, 2004 1:59 PM
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: Retaining wall fees
> > For an eight foot high retaining wall in a residential project we
> > generally
> > charge a few hundred dollars depending on soils, surcharge, etc.
> > These walls are typically twenty to forty feet long with jogs
> > and what have you. Now what if this same wall was to be used to surround
> > an entire tract, a few miles in length, how do others figure a fee
> > for such an expanded exposure?
> The cheapest way for you would be to specify a design-build Modular MSE
> wall.  It might even be cheaper over all depending on the local conditions
> and what type of finish you want (the cheapest forming systems for
> concrete
> walls leave a quite ugly finish).  Also, many people prefer the "look" of
> modular MSE walls.
> The design fees for MSE walls are usually based on the square footage of
> the
> wall face (including caps and blocks below grade).  I've seen prices
> varying
> from $1.00/s.f. (less than 750 s.f.) to $0.30/s.f. (over 75,000 s.f.).
> Typical fees are in the $0.60 to $0.75/s.f. range.
> This wall completely surrounds the entire complex?  Are you building a
> bathtub or a hill fort?

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