Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: I Got Th' "Eagle Done Flew" Blues!

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Bill,
This has happened to me in the past also.  Although, the fees weren't as
large as yours.  When it is a hundred bucks it really isn't worth the time
on the phone to collect.  It sounds like you have a contract with the
architect.  He is the one that owes you the money.  Go after him for the
money.  Probably don't want to do any more work for him anyway.  The same
thing will happen on future projects.  He has no legitimate complaint.  He
read the proposal, had a chance to think about it then signed it.
Joe Grill





-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Polhemus [mailto:bill(--nospam--at)polhemus.cc] 
Sent: Thursday, March 17, 2005 7:24 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: I Got Th' "Eagle Done Flew" Blues!

Just a moment to complain--and perhaps entertain some suggestions.

Got a letter from an archy client yesterday, including a long-awaited 
check for payment from a job I finished three months ago. Since we've 
been kinda slow around here, the money was most welcome.

But it was also a "short" check.

The letter explained that, in essence, the architect's client "refused 
to pay" for what he, after the fact, considered to be "ridiculous" fees 
for my services.

To explain:

This was an expansion of a commercial building that, when I made an 
initial site visit, turned out to have some structural deficiencies. I 
could have dealt with these by alerting the Building Official (this is a 
location that, wonder of wonders, actually *has* such an animal) of the 
deficiency, at which point the B.O. *could* have revoked the building's 
certificate of occupancy until the problems could be corrected. He may 
not have done that--political stroke counts for much 'round heah--but he 
certainly could have.

Not wanting to cause problems for the building owner, I sent the 
architect a letter explaining what I had found and recommending that we 
do some field work to obtain in-situ building data, then design a repair 
for the situation. I sent along a "fixed fee" proposal for that work.

The Architect accepted it, with his signature on the proposal faxed back 
to me, and I went to work.

I incorporated the fix on the construction drawings subsequently, and 
worked with the contractor to make sure it was done correctly (good 
thing, too; the contractor's sub responsible for the repair got it all 
wrong the first time around, and I had to issue a firm letter to the 
Architect to hold the contractor's feet to the fire).

After all the dust was cleared and the design drawings completed, I sent 
the final invoice including the charges.

To make a l-o-o-o-n-g story short, the owner balked at paying the 
invoice when it was presented by the Architect along with his charges. 
He claimed--according to the Architect--that "these guys didn't do 
enough work to substantiate this amount of fee." (the amount we're 
talking about is in the low four-figures, mind you).

Ultimately the Architect sent me a check minus six hundred dollars to 
reflect what the owner was willing to pay for the work. In other words, 
after all was said and done and a structural UNSAFE condition was 
remedied in the process of doing the expansion, like the people of 
Hamlin the owner didn't want to pay the Piper.

Well, I don't have a magic flute (and I don't really want to take 
possesion of the owner's children anyway) so I don't really have an easy 
recourse in this matter.

Here are my choices, obviously:

1) Just forget about it and chalk it up to experience--even though I 
feel that I documented everything and communicated satsifactorily the 
entire way.

2) Demand that the Architect--with whom I had the agreement for 
payment--pay me the rest regardless of what the Owner has paid him.

3) Demand that the Owner cough up the balance of the fee directly to me.

My problem with 1) is that it just rankles. Not only do I feel I'm being 
poorly treated, I also don't like the idea that the services of a 
structural engineer are seen as a "commodity" with no real value. I 
think the owner needs to be "taught a lesson" not just for my sake but 
for that of others.

Of course, 2) or 3) would have to be "backed up" with threat of legal 
action. Is six hundred bucks worth it? There is a principle involved 
here, but how far does one need to go?

My wife insists that I go with 2) AND 3). As "CFO" she is quite 
perturbed about this (the recent demise of our washing machine and 
dishwasher have not helped matters much).

I don't want to "tick off" my Archy client, but I have a feeling he's 
not going to be coming back to me with any further work anyway.

It's tough being an "ant" trying to work with giants.

Any comments?

-- 
Bill Polhemus, P.E.
Polhemus Engineering Company
http://www.polhemus.cc/


******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* ***
*   Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp
* 
*   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers 
*   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To 
*   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
*
*   http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp
*
*   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you 
*   send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted 
*   without your permission. Make sure you visit our web 
*   site at: http://www.seaint.org 
******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ******** 



******* ****** ******* ******** ******* ******* ******* ***
*   Read list FAQ at: http://www.seaint.org/list_FAQ.asp
* 
*   This email was sent to you via Structural Engineers 
*   Association of Southern California (SEAOSC) server. To 
*   subscribe (no fee) or UnSubscribe, please go to:
*
*   http://www.seaint.org/sealist1.asp
*
*   Questions to seaint-ad(--nospam--at)seaint.org. Remember, any email you 
*   send to the list is public domain and may be re-posted 
*   without your permission. Make sure you visit our web 
*   site at: http://www.seaint.org 
******* ****** ****** ****** ******* ****** ****** ********