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RE: Informal Poll

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For me there is no set number, but when changes add scope, require me to redesign (more than 15 minutes of my time), or cause for redrawing of details, it’s charged for. It could be in background #2 if the scope changes, or say I need to now add a new material (i.e., steel framing becomes necessary on a wood project).


The architect should be providing backgrounds with comments saying “we’re still working on x or y” so you know to not spend a great deal of time on those things until they’ve figured out their stuff. What really sucks is when the architect starts moving things like columns, making openings bigger and then sending you a new background for every little change instead of waiting until they’ve got them all/most figured out better. It’s also nice to get a background with a cloud layer pointing out what has changed. All of these are ideal, but things don’t work this way in reality. It is wasteful and frustrating when you are outpacing the architect who when they finally finish, blame us for being late because we get all the missing info we’ve been asking for 1 day before they finish and we’re expected to be done on the day they finish. Yet, we need their drawings to make sure we can still give them their 600 square foot walk in closet with a 10 foot square skylight in bedroom # 13 on the third floor guest house.


If some architectural plan check comment causes me more work, I certainly charge for that. I do not normally charge for plan check response unless we get into round 3 because then it’s usually a plan checker who can’t understand something or has a bug up his/her ass… On average, for my projects about 1 in 20 actually have a round 2 of comments, always from a 3rd party checker who had 3 pages of comments requiring zero changes to my drawings (i.e. they printed out the same list of comments they do for every job – i.e. “submit roof truss design package” and there are no gang nail trusses on the project). I’ve had a round 3 only once, again a 3rd party plan checker, on a large project, who couldn’t figure out how to understand/create a drag force diagram in a collector line.


Despite all this, it’s pretty rare that I charge for changes because on most of my projects I try to speak/email with the architect a couple of times a week at least to see where they are and what’s coming at me. The frequency increases when I know they are not far along in the design.




-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Allen [mailto:T.W.Allen(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2005 9:40 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Informal Poll


I’m curious what the expectations of others are with regards to updated backgrounds received from architectural clients.


How many updates do you consider is reasonable in your basic scope of services before you think additional services are in order?




T. William (Bill) Allen, S.E.


Consulting Structural Engineers