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Because it's easy?

Because it's easy?

Because it's easy?

I have been asked to look at a project that is somewhat easy, but the consequences of my actions if done wrong can have disastrous results. I am faced with these types of projects from time to time. When putting a proposal together on a project I try to figure how long it will take me to complete a task and then multiply that time by my hourly rate to get the fee I charge the client. In instances like this, I don't believe this is the correct approach. I know there are tons of old time sayings about project like this (not interested in hearing those). I am wondering what other do when faced with such circumstances?

I don't want to get into the details about this specific project as I am interested in the question in general.

RE: Because it's easy?

If there are a lot of unknowns, or even undefined unknowns, quadruple your fee.. It's not always about the time you think. When they complain about the fee, tell them what they can give you to lower the fee.

You can also just use time and materials, with no cap if there are too many unknowns.

If the client will not go for either, then be Mr. nice guy and recommend one or your contemporaries compeditors enemies for his job.

Mike McCann, PE, SE (WA)

RE: Because it's easy?

The client isn't complaining at all.

This particular case there are no unknowns. The client has the existing building drawings so I know everything, I may not even have to go to the site (although I probably will at least twice). I'm not even designing much, I'm delegating the design to a manufacturer who specializes in this type of construction. Why doesn't the owner go directly to the manufacturer? Because the manufacturer will not work for the end user or make any site visits.

RE: Because it's easy?

SteelPE....I don't know if your state has a criterion for delegated design, but remember that, in general, you are responsible for that as well. If you delegate the design to a supplier, you still have the responsibility to review that design to make sure it is responsive to your overall design intent. As the engineer of record, you cannot completely relieve yourself of liability by a delegated design.

RE: Because it's easy?


I understand what you are saying, but I believe the are instances when you don't check the calculations of the manufacturer. Some instances that come to mind are open web steel joists, wood trusses, metal building etc. However, I do not want to get into a huge discussion about this aspect of the design process.

RE: Because it's easy?

SteelPE, Once I have my estimated hours x hourly rate figured out, for the odd complex or 'unusual' project I will also factor my fee up to account for A) added complexity, B) unusual liability. For me this normally happens for those one off projects that do not fit the mold of a 'standard' project. Some of the many sculptures I have been asked to verify structurally come to mind. My local engineering board's published material agrees with this approach.

RE: Because it's easy?

It seems you are saying that if you bill the client your normal rate by the number of hours you work on the project, that the fee may not be worth the risk you are taking. If this is in fact the situation, write your proposal as a lump sum fee, i.e. you will do x, y, and z for a set fee. You can set the fee at what ever amount you think the project is worth.

Mike Lambert

RE: Because it's easy?

In this instance I give the client just a number but as GeoPave mentioned above there is a liability issue associated with the project. The client isn't balking at the number, I am just wondering how others handle similar situations.

RE: Because it's easy?

Is this liability not covered by your E&O insurance?

To me, your problem reads like an insurance coverage problem, so I would think that you either self-fund an insurance policy, or find a policy that can used to cover specific instances and specific jobs. Then, you could add the insurance premium as a premium on the job. However, it's unclear to me how big this liability is; you seem to imply that you could cover the liability with just a higher rate?

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Because it's easy?

just add in budget for additional research, risk assessment, sensitivity analysis, QA/QC, independent technical review, peer review or whatever you feel is necessary to mitigate your risk. you should be doing this for every job, it just is a small number for the "standard projects". Wish I could say I have any projects I consider to be "standard"

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