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RE: Retaining wall fees

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> I totally agree with fee structure for retaining walls.
> It seem that Engineers in general do not have the concept
> of "Value engineering" as it pertains to the value to the
> client regarding our fee's.  If we don't consider the
> value of our service to the client and only charge an
> hourly fee you will also be at the mercy of the client.
> Our industry/ profession has lost respect and appreciation
> from most peoples over the last 50 years while architects
> and builders are held in high regard.  Usually we are
> referred to as the necessary evil by builders/contractors.

I think we need to make sure we're comparing the same "wall".  I got the
impression that Dennis was talking about a simple wall design with the only
drawing being a couple of standard sections and some notes.  The design
would cover the most conservative local soil condition and grade slope.  A
single experienced engineer using decent software and standard drawing
templates could do the design and detailing in an hour or so.  No site
visits or construction admin.  A few hundred dollars should be more than
sufficient to cover time, overhead, insurance, etc.  The contractor is
responsible for determining length of wall, top of wall and footing
elevations, where to put each design section, etc.  It's the same design
whether it's a 6' high by 20' long wall, or a 6' high by 2000' long wall
with corners and curves.

More work on the engineer's part will result in higher fees.  The other
extreme would be multiple plan and elevation views showing joints,
reinforcing, quantities, elevations, complete dimensions, etc.  Obviously,
drawing a 6' high by 2000' long wall will be more expensive than 6' high by
20' long wall, even if they are the same "design".  A fee based on
square-feet of surface area or construction cost is more reasonable for this

With a competent, honest contractor, Dennis's method would be best.  With a
contractor who intentionally bids too low then tries to find ways to add
high-cost change orders, the highly detailed wall is by far the cheapest
overall.  It all depends on what the owner wants, and whether he knows what
he wants.

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

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