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RE: Idyllwild?--charging for Initial Site Visits?

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Ralph,

 

I ordinarily do not charge for an initial visit if it results in a proposal for my services – I would consider the visit part of my marketing.  However, if, during my visit I am able to provide evaluations or recommendations that give the client understanding of the conditions at hand, or provide helpful direction for the client’s further action, I may charge for my services – especially if my input has provided direction that does not call for any further services from me.  I’ve rarely encountered an objection to doing this.

 

Nels Roselund, SE

South San Gabriel, CA

njineer(--nospam--at)att.net


From: Rhkratzse(--nospam--at)aol.com [mailto:Rhkratzse(--nospam--at)aol.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 08, 2005 7:41 AM
To: dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net; seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Idyllwild?--charging for Initial Site Visits?

 

In a message dated 9/7/05 12:29:44 PM, dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net writes:

He would like to meet with the engineer on the site to go over the history of the project and the scope of work.


I don't work in the Idyllwild area, but I'm curious how other engineers handle fees (or not) for an initial visit to a site to scope out a project.  (I'm talking about residential addition & remodelings, such as this cabin remodel sounds like.)  Do you charge or consider it marketing?  I realize that such a visit could involve just meeting the potential client and seeing that the situation is so you're able to submit a proposal for your services, but more often--almost invariably--it becomes a professional consultation, where I evaluate the existing structural conditions, make general recommendations for the direction the project should go, etc.  In other words I almost always provide a lot of useful structural guidance for the owner.  I dislike doing that for free, since it's often a half-day down the drain, and I dislike the idea that someone could call up a few engineers and get a *lot* of useful/valuable information without putting out a penny.  Of course many owners are unwilling to pay for such services.  (By the way IF I charge I *always* do it on a Fixed Fee basis, so there's no quibbling about minutes, and it's generally in the $200 - 500 range.  Remember this is the San Francisco Bay Area.  YMMV) 

When questioned about charging for such visits--"contractors do it for free!"--I ask if they're able to get several doctors to come to their house, examine them, and make a proposal for how they'd cure you--for free--and *then* you decide which one you'll hire as your MD.  Or I sometimes factiously ask if they take bids to find the cheapest brain surgeon for their wife.   :)

Obviously this is all about what the market allows. 

Just curious what others do,

Ralph