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RE: Fees - was Re: Masonry Storage Facilities - fees!

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If the contract between the engineer and client didn’t include any CA, then should the engineer solve construction problems?  I’m not saying I agree with that philosophy, but it happens.  If the engineers design was faulty or incomplete, I’d say he should work on a solution, but if not his fault, then shouldn’t be expected to work for free. 





-----Original Message-----
From: Daryl Richardson [mailto:h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 8:20 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Fees - was Re: Masonry Storage Facilities - fees!


"Currently, I am involved in three projects where the engineering was done outside my area and now the engineer of record does not want to respond to the contractors troubles or site investigation."




        Isn't lack of service grounds for disciplinary action?


        It seems to me that "Plan Stamping" only exists when engineering can be considered a product rather than a service.  It also seems to me that providing a stamped set of drawings and then not following up with the required services is, in fact, "plan stamping" and that it should be dealt with accordingly.


Best regards, Dennis,


H. Daryl Richardson

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Thursday, February 16, 2006 12:35 AM

Subject: Fees - was Re: Masonry Storage Facilities - fees!


Jordan Truesdell, PE wrote:
As for discussing fees, I don't see why not, though I wouldn't even suggest a range. If we make our fees public, and then end up charging nearly the same amount for similar work, so be it."

First, thank you for your reply - it helps. I don't see a problem discussing a range because we are an international group and the fee's will vary by geographical area as well as the demand for the work. I recall attending a meeting of a professional organization where I was the invited speaker. Prior to my speech, there was a set of reduced drawings passed around and each engineer was asked to review them during dinner and provide an approximate price that their office would charge for the project. The average came in at around 1-1/2% of the construction cost. The point of the meeting was for this organization to simply point out that our fees may be on the low side and that to keep up with insurance, labor and other expenses we should be aiming higher - closer to 2% of the construction cost. This was not intended to sent a fee, but it did point out that most of us are within the same fee range but may be under pricing their services.

When you go to a doctor he charges a fee based (usually) upon what most insurance companies will reimburse him for services performed. If he tries to charge you more then you have the option of having his fees reviewed by the Insurance Review Board to determine if his fee is within an appropriate range for services performed.
Lawyers almost always charge the same hourly fee and the courts will set the contingency fee to somewhere between 33% and 40% of the settlement.
Auto Mechanics quote their work based on a standard book of fees for services rendered. I sat there while the mechanic went through the book to choose each chore that needed to be performed and looked up the appropriate number of hours the work should take and the hourly rate for labor that should be charged.

What is wrong with suggesting a fee range. It doesn't imply that we "must" charge this fee, but that we should not be afraid to ask for what our services are worth. How can we determine the value of our services unless we discuss them openly. I went nearly ten years without raising my fee before I found out that I was on the bottom of my fee scale. I was not getting more work, but I was getting less compensation. I now charge somewhere in the middle which may be high for Los Angeles where the competition is fierce, but is fair where the work is plentiful and the number of competitors are low. The fact is that while my fee falls in the middle, I probably provide more job specific drawings and certainly more on-site and pre-construction involvement with the clients to insure fewer problems during construction.

The issue is not so much how much we charge or if everyone charges the same, but how well we bond with our clients and how much faith they have in our ability and our willingness to work with them through the project. Currently, I am involved in three projects where the engineering was done outside my area and now the engineer of record does not want to respond to the contractors troubles or site investigation. Since it has to be done, the cities often recommend two or three of us to clients needing help and they come to us not for the lowest fee, but for our ability to keep their crew working and solving the problems that they have in the field.

Hope this brings a different perspective to openly discussing fees.

Dennis S. Wish, PE
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