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koo (Structural) (OP)
6 Mar 08 16:02
guys, got a pricing question about additional charge if I am asked to stamp the calculation and drawings for connection design.

I didn't stamp them before and only submit calcs. for others to stamping (EOR).  Now they want me to stamp it. What price diff. does it make on an hourly rate basis? (I know I should cover insurance and add'l hours...but is there a typical industry rate diff. btw. stamping vs. non-stamping?)

Please be specific if you can...thanks.

Koo
Helpful Member!(2)  JedClampett (Structural)
7 Mar 08 10:21
Since this thread seems kind of dead, I thought I'd contribute my two cents.  My opinion is that if you're a registered engineer and you're doing engineering, you ought to be willing to stamp your work for no additional cost, unless there's some reproduction costs involved.
Discuss!
JoeTank (Structural)
7 Mar 08 10:32
Well put Jed. A star to you.

Joe Tank

PatBethea (Mechanical)
7 Mar 08 11:44
I disagree with Jed.  Anybody can provide calculations and drawings.  The stamp itself has real value - try taking an unstamped set of plans to a permitting body.  Stamped Work = More Value = Greater Liability - you need a way to capture that cost.
MiketheEngineer (Structural)
7 Mar 08 15:03
Some state codes say that ALL work done by a PE should be stamped.

I assume it will always need a stamp and charge accordingly.
ron9876 (Structural)
7 Mar 08 15:06
I agree that you should be willing to seal anything that you design. You are professionally responsible with or without a seal. Non engineers are not supposed to perform engineering calculations.
PatBethea (Mechanical)
7 Mar 08 15:27
Being "willing to seal anything that you design" is not mutually exclusive of being compensated more for actually using your seal.

Here's an analogy for you steel guys - when you order steel and require certain certifications be provided with the material, you pay more.  The steel is the exact same, with or without the certs.  This applies with engineering calcs as well - if you don't want me to seal the work, I'll give you a price break.
ron9876 (Structural)
7 Mar 08 15:29
Why
PatBethea (Mechanical)
7 Mar 08 15:48
Why not?

Look, for the vast majority of all engineering work (including most of the stuff I do), I fully expect I'll have to sign and seal my work - I base my price accordingly.  There is a market, however, where PE approval is not required - typically in the residential sector.  As an example, I will provide HVAC load calculations and energy forms to mech contractors/home owners for a much reduced price over what I'd charge in a commercial setting where a PE seal would be required.  I'm still making money (albeit at a reduced rate), it has attracted more business for the company, and the home owner saves money - where's the problem in this practice?

Another example - I used to do a lot of pressure vessel design work (when I didn't work for myself).  All of the vessels I designed were built to the ASME B&PV code.  If a client asked for a PE to verify the design (and sign/seal the design documents), the company would charge considerably more.  The vessel was the same, as was the designer (me) - why do you think the company charged more?  Because the PE seal has a tangible value.
ron9876 (Structural)
7 Mar 08 16:27
Well certainly if you can get more money it would be crazy not to get more. But to reduce your fee because you don't seal the work doesn't make sense to me. You are as responsible without a seal as with.
MiketheEngineer (Structural)
7 Mar 08 17:08
Got to agree with ron9876
msquared48 (Structural)
7 Mar 08 17:16
Me too.

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

sundale (Structural)
7 Mar 08 17:59
If you are selling your time/expertise as a consulting engineer for a client, then you are performing the practice of engineering whether you stamp the drawings or not.

All the states I am licensed in precribe that all final engineering plans, drawings, reports, etc. constituting the practice of engineering shall be stamped by the PE in responsible charge. There are exemptions to what actually constitutes the practice of engineering, of course, but it does not sound to me like the OP meets these exemptions.

I would seriously consider stamping the drawings and I would definitely not have "extra fees" for stamped drawings.  If you are in responsible charge of the work, you are liable and responsible for the work whether you stamped it or not; the fee should reflect the full degree of responsibility and liability
tngolfer (Structural)
7 Mar 08 18:22
It is very common for my firm to include a comment in our Structural Notes that other engineering services (cold-formed steel trusses, limestone veneer supports, etc.) be signed and sealed by an engineer licensed in the project state.

Is this common for other firms?

The ability to bid a project seems like it should be compensation enough. It makes the specialty engineer stand behind his/her work. I would be very worried letting someone else design a piece of my (EOR) building and have them not be willing to put their stamp on it.
hokie66 (Structural)
7 Mar 08 18:34
As professional engineers, we are responsible for our work and should be compensated accordingly.  The stamp, as used in the US but not in many other places, is just a signature attesting to the engineer's responsibility for the work.  Why anyone would charge more for attesting to his own work is beyond me.
whyun (Structural)
7 Mar 08 19:23
I am used to seeing structural engineering work (moonlight small stuff) at $100 to $120 per hour if a stamp must be provided.  When you are "helping" your buddy reduce his/her workload and your buddy will stamp and seal, rates are typically $50 to $75 depending on your friendship.  These are contract rates, so no benefits included.
JStephen (Mechanical)
7 Mar 08 20:05
My two cents worth:
Doing the work and expecting the EOR to seal it may not be allowed under the "direct supervision" requirements of your state rules- check and see.  It could vary with the rules and with the actual arrangement of work.

Texas currently has a rule that if a registered engineer is doing work that is exempt, then a seal is also not required on that work.  I think this was understood a long time before it was put in the rules, more so with engineers working in exempt industries than with consultants doing small jobs.
hokie66 (Structural)
8 Mar 08 6:42
I submit that there is a serious ethical problem with basing your pricing on whether the work is "stamped" or "unstamped".  I don't mean the situation mentioned by whyun, where the hourly rate for an engineer working essentially as an employee without ultimate design responsibility is of course less than the charge the responsible engineer will pass on to the client.

If someone does work for a client as a professional engineer, and then upon completing that work for an agreed price, he asks for additional money to "stamp" the work, to me that is tantamount to extortion.

 
msucog (Civil/Environmental)
8 Mar 08 9:18
i agree that you should be willing to stamp your professional engineering work without additional compensation. if you need to compose a summary letter at the end which is stamped, of course you should be compensated for the time to review the project file, evaluate that what you are claiming is factual to best of your knowledge, and then actually formalizing the letter....all that should be billable. however, one thing you should keep in mind prior to doing that work is that if a "client"/customer wants to you do half-arse work then want it to be stamped, the ethical implications should force you do perhaps approach the project differently knowing that your stamp may be required at the end. in essence, you should perform all work assuming that a stamp will be required at the end...i guess the whole stamp issue is sort of like the guardian angel sitting on your shoulder reminding you that you will be responsible for your actions as a P.E.

but no, you should not charge an extra $500 just to stamp a report that was already written and billed for.
haynewp (Structural)
8 Mar 08 10:04
Ask your insurance company. If there is potentially greater financial loss (more time in court) involved then I would defintely charge to stamp it. If you think you are at greater risk of losing your license by stamping rather than not stamping it (especially if it is your own business) then I would charge for it. I don't think you are admitting that your work is any less accurate or you were somehow negligent if you don't charge as much for not stamping it, just that you are taking a higher risk of money out of your pocket.

That being said, I bet it doesn't matter whether you stamp it or not, you are at the same risk of losing your license and/or having the same amount of court fees whether it is stamped or not. Everyone will likely come after you the same either way. If that is the case, I wouldn't charge more just based on the fact that it is worth more to the client being stamped rather than unstamped, seems kind of like you are being an a-hole.
msquared48 (Structural)
8 Mar 08 20:16
Anything that goes out of my office with my logo and letterhead on it is stamped...no exceptions.  The "charge" for stamping the project is nonexistant and really irrelevant.

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

DRC1 (Civil/Environmental)
8 Mar 08 21:21
I have had calculations that I have done and have come back requesting a stamp. I can understand a resaonable charge to stamp, I mean you probably want to give the papers the once over just to be sure everything is in order, copies had to be made and it consumes some time. (often more time than if they would have asked for it th first time) Your liability does increase if you stamp something, thats the purpose of stamping, to identify the party who said "yes this was done correctly"
On the other hand, I have told people that I could not stamp the calculations, as they were part of the overall design, and the EOR of the overall design should stamp the design to ensure conformance to the overall design concept. Generally the reason I did not stamp it was because of that. I have seen engineers who try toget everybody to stamp their piece and then bind it all up. Often they have very little that they have their stamp on. If there is a problem, then you end up with a lot of finger pointing, that stamping was to avoid.
I agree we should have one standard for our work, but a stamp should be sure that the work is compatible with the total design concept.
hokie66 (Structural)
9 Mar 08 6:23
Stamping calculations is a ridiculous requirement and I would refuse to do so.  My stamp would not fit on my matchbook.  A letter of certification stating that the design has been done in accordance with the relevant standards should suffice, along with the contract documents with the appropriate stamping and signatures.
Helpful Member!  UcfSE (Structural)
9 Mar 08 11:24
Calculations that require sealing take longer to prepare and longer to organize and reproduce.  It's reasonable to charge more for this since you wouldn't turn in your matchbook or photo copies of a napkin.  Likewise, I don't think it's unreasonable to charge more to stamp work when you've been getting paid not to stamp it.  Your work is changing; charge for it.

In an ideal world it wouldn't be necessary to turn in sealed calculations, but then again, in an ideal world we shouldn't have to have licenses.  We could take people at their word that they are competent.  Obviously that isn't the case.

msquared48 (Structural)
10 Mar 08 3:16
Doesn't work that way over here Hokie.  They don't trust us anymore.  Remember the Hyiatt Regency walkway failure back in the 80's?  Everything changed liability-wise after that.  We stamp the calcs and plans, sometimes even the shop drawings.

A further thought, the issue here appears to be the stamp, assuming more liability with it, and being paid more for it.  The real liability here is any monetary compensation paid by the client and his reliance on your professional work, stamped or unstamped.  

Personally, I like the idea of wet stamping prints and calculations, as it quickly weeds out stamp forgeries, which has happened to me personally three times in the last 20 years.

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

hokie66 (Structural)
10 Mar 08 6:28
I don't know why I got into this conversation.  My Virginia stamp has dry-rotted, and we don't have stamps in Australia.  I sympathise, but don't think a stamp would have prevented the Hyatt collapse.
TXStructural (Structural)
10 Mar 08 14:36
"I didn't stamp them before and only submit calcs. for others to stamping (EOR).  Now they want me to stamp it."

Since Texas prohibits stamping work which was not done by you or under your supervision, you stamp your own work.

Also, as said previously, Texas also requires that work be stamped if it is engineering.

I have also had numerous discussions online and IRL about engineers not pricing for the value they provide.  If we "discount" our fees for not stamping, then people see the value of our knowledge, skills & experience as less than the value of our seals.

Charge what you are worth, all the time, and stand behind it, seal or not.
rday (Structural)
10 Mar 08 15:39
I'm with TXStructural. The fee I charge is NOT for the seal, it is for the expertise that the seal represents.

I do the same calc package reagardless of submittal requirements. Often times I am required to submit the package sealed. No problem here it is. Maybe my take is a little different having a boss who does review for the State Board.
Helpful Member!  connect2 (Structural)
10 Mar 08 17:02
Sealed or unsealed, charge more or less, that's a bit bizzare.  Here you're liable in Tort regardless, same cost for work, same cost in court.
msquared48 (Structural)
10 Mar 08 17:10
Bingo!

Mike McCann
McCann Engineering

MiketheEngineer (Structural)
10 Mar 08 18:02
Double Bingo
nutte (Structural)
10 Mar 08 18:23
Back to the original post, are they asking you to stamp the shop drawings, certifying the drawings themselves are detailed correctly, matching your connection design?

If the answer is "Yes," then that is an additional service, "shop drawing review," and you should be compensated accordingly.  It is one thing to provide a design.  It is an entirely different task to review someone else's work and verify their interpretation is correct.

(This begs another question, should engineers of record require sealed connection design, or sealed shop drawings, or both.  That discussion would likely drag on longer than this one has.)

If you're doing connection design, and submitting calculations, I don't see much difference price-wise or effort-wise if you seal them or not.
connect2 (Structural)
10 Mar 08 19:01
As EOR you'll be the first named in litagation, sealed or unsealed, payed or not payed, designed by others or aliens.  Here EOR has total responsibility.  Hard to duck at the end of the day even the biggest disclaimer is just a bunch of words and the dominion of lawyers.

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