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billable time

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Like most people said, you charge for all of your time or you are
literally working for free. Now if you are trying to get in with a
client, you may cut them a break as you see fit. Especially if you can
lump together several site visits together. Another way to hide all
the costs so as to not be perceived as "nickel and diming" them, is if
you do it lump sum, then spell it out in your contract that this
includes X site visits, costs and mileage ALL included, and build that
into your total fee. Some clients prefer an up front lump sum fee
arrangement, others may want a billable time + cost approach. This is
usually in one of the initial conversations you have with a client,
and I have found to be up front and direct is the best approach.

Andrew Kester, PE
Florida

PS
Scott's post on intellectual property was spot on. Once you have
worked for a couple of companies you will see that people "borrow"
details, templates, spreadsheets, general ideas, etc. all of the time.
Permit drawings are public record, so you could go down to the
building dept and pay a fee and have the drawings of about any
structure you want.

I don't even see it as a bad thing anymore, unless it is a
proprietary-type software program that gives them a significant
advantage over the competition, and involved a lot of work/time/money
to develop. We are not talking about typical retaining wall details
and footing schedules here... Of course there is a lot of legal gray
area, but it is so hard to prove and there is so little value in going
after people that it becomes a non-issue. Probably if you feel bad
doing it, then you shouldn't do it :)

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