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Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

(OP)
Hello fellow engineers:

I've started working on my own doing structural design. I've worked for 10+ years in this field with private firms; I started on my own maybe for a year or two (moonlighting mostly)
I have a client, with a potential job and I want to make sure I'm heading in the right direction when it comes to pricing my services.
This client wants to build carports for a mobile park, in order to provide shade for RVs. The carports will be very simple, about 50'x15'
My question is, since this carport will be used repetitively, do we charge a fee for each one of them?
I'm used to single type projects (homes, apartments, commercial buildings), but never had the opportunity for something like this.
My first reaction is that we're liable for every single carport regardless if its the same design. But again, it's a repetitive design so we won't be working consistently in all of them.
I talked with my insurance and they told me that I'd be cover for this type of project; I'm just trying to figure out what the percentage in value/service should be.

Thanks

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

Yes, you should charge a repetitive fee. After all, each of those structures will represent a possible liability for you in the future. Next, you should have some review and involvement in each one...for instance, each will likely require a building permit with drawings and possibly calculations. You should obviously charge for this.

Even though the structures are repetitively built, it doesn't mean that "one size fits all" with respect to the engineering. To give you an example....assume the structure was designed to be built in County A. Manufacturer expands his market and now supplies structures in County C, which has differing requirements from County A. If you had not considered the differences in your design, you might be held liable if you just blindly sign and seal a composite design for use anywhere.

I know these types of structures and I know the typical thought process of the manufacturers/suppliers.....keep the costs as low as possible...and you are an extra expense. Stick to your guns and require review and some involvement in each, then charge accordingly. Your additional review will likely be less than your original engineering fee, but it should be some reasonable amount for you to cover your necessary tasks.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

I have only limited experience in dealing with what was suppose to be a "repetitive design". I can attest to Ron's statement about not necessarily being "one size fits all". I had a client (a pretty large retailer) who said that they were going to build the same building everywhere and insisted on a reduced fee. Six buildings later and they have yet to repeat the same design. They are very similar but all are a little different. Luckily there is a buffer between myself and the end user who understands about liability and buries my costs into his own.

Also with a "repetitive design" you may have to be prepared to potential misuse of your design/product and therefore the possible litigation that may come.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

Do you plan on designing the foundation? Each one could be different depending on the anchor system...maybe #1 is on a flat slab, #2 is on a pier system, #3 is on sandy soils, etc.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

(OP)
Thanks for the responses so far.
My client is not a manufacturer. These are going to be built on site.
The carports are all gonna be in the same lot; they won't be using this design on different cities (as far as I know)
What i meant with repetitive, is that this design will be used accross the same property. It could be 50 of them. So i'm trying to figure out a proposal that makes sense for this.
My client has already expresses a desire for a reduced fee since its a repetitive design. I'm just trying to figure out a % from my original design for all the other carports (since i'm liable for all of them anyway).
Thanks!

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

You repeatedly pay your insurance..... Now go figure

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

(OP)
MiketheEngineer:

Actually, i spoke with my insurance and they explained to me that despite my design being used in several occasions throughout the property, that the insurance will cover it for all carports. They mentioned that since this structure is a low risk one, that it shouldn't be a problem. Perhaps i should get this in writing.
That being said the, should a % of the original design fee for one carport be applied to the rest?

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

I would apply a fee of 50-75% of original for each additional signed/sealed document produced. Carports and canopies are not necessarily low risk structures...only for the cost of payout by the insurance company. They become flying debris if they fail under wind loads, thus the consequential damage can be high.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

(OP)
Thanks Ron

I actually got more information about this. It seems that the carports are not for RVs but they will be for mobile homes. So they are "attached" to mobile homes. (Visually they look attached, but i'll just consider this work as long as a gap is prvided between both structures)
I believe this is something managed by a H.O.A. so my concerns about insurance are considerable. I have spoken with fellow engineers about this matter and have shared horrible stories about H.O.A lawsuits. (For things that are not even structural related, but we're dragged into them)
So i think Ron, that your suggestion is right in the ballpark of what i was thinking.
Thanks!

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

I don't know about them being low-risk items. In the major wind and snow storms we have had in the past few years here, I saw a lot of downed carports, far more than buildings. Many had collapsed on cars.

Mike McCann
MMC Engineering
http://mmcengineering.tripod.com

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

I must say I am intrigued by this thread, I am sure structural in the USA is very different to automotive in the UK, so I could be way wide of the mark here.

Basically we design automotive parts and tooling and our insurance is based on our turn over not the value of the parts, so it does not matter if the part is for a Bugatti high cost low volume or a Mini low cost high volume. It is purely down to the time taken.

Having said all that basically we have to bid on everything so it really doesn’t matter if we quote £50K for one part and all others are free or £1K per a part if the volume is 50, obviously this only works for design.

Surely it just comes down to if the price is acceptable or not however you break it down?

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

(OP)
msquared48

Wind uplift is the only load I'd be truly concerned about. We're in Southern California, so snow is not an issue. Not even rain.
Seismic would be very small (due to the little weight this carports have), that's actually not a concern even thou its Southern California.

ajack1
It certainly is a little different than design work. I wish I could help you with your question.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

ajack1...professional liability insurance in the US is based on gross fees, not the value of any given project; however, premiums go up when you have a certain type of client (condominiums, homeowners associations, etc.) or you practice in a particular discipline (geotechnical, structural, etc.) that is prone to a higher degree of liability.

RE: Structural fee for repetitive design in the same property lot

Professional liability insurance companies also want to know if your design will be used repetively or the product/structure will be mass produced with no control on your part. If so, your premiums would be higher.

www.PeirceEngineering.com

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