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Old 01-14-2009, 12:54 AM   #1
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What services should I be getting?


I have found a structural engineer to draw the plans for an 1200sqft two story addition to my 3000sqft two story home. He will do the engineering and works with an architect who will do the designing.

Is it fair for me to ask them to get the plans approved before their services are fully rendered?

Also what is the price per square foot for drawing architectural / structural plans for an addition to a home? What if they also have to increase the size of two bedrooms upstairs, what would the cost per square feet be for this portion?

They are telling me $4,200 for a full set of structural plans, architectural plans, title 24, reprints and corrections, and any telephone clarifications needed by my builder. Any site visits are subject to $100/hour fee (in case clarifications over the phone are not necessary). Any city inspections requiring a structural engineer for any of the steps of construction, he will charge his hourly fee. They will help me through the city plan check, but want me to go through the motions. Same with the permits.

I also have plans of my neighbors house who has the same exact floorplan, so they have something to work with. Measurements will still be necessary, but they have he floorplan all there.

Am I getting my bang for my buck on the design portion of my remodel?


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Old 01-14-2009, 06:04 AM   #2
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Like anything else you do, get more then one estimate for the work. Then you know if the estimates are in the ballpark.
I don't know why you don't ask the people who are drawing the plans for the cost of the work upstairs. It makes no sense to ask it on the internet.
The contractor should be getting the permits, not the engineer or architect. This way they check if he has the proper insurance and credentials.
If these are straight forward plans I would see no reason for either the engineer or architect to come to the job site.


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Old 01-14-2009, 07:37 AM   #3
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You are getting a good deal.

From experience, the price you're getting for the addition is actually pretty good, particularly when you're getting the services of both the structural guy and the architect. I personally would be happy with that number. As a comparison, I do this for living but I can't seal drawings for my own property in NJ, so when I wanted an addition, I got a price of $6400 for an 1100 square foot second-floor-on-top-of-a-ranch project.

If they provided a written proposal, they probably said their end of the deal is complete upon submitting sealed prints to you, plus any minor corrections. That's standard. While knowledge of the code is vital in our work, the national codes all have either "local editions," or township-specific addendums, or requirements specific to the area. What they should do for you is make simple corrections that the code officials want, like adding a fastener schedule to the drawing, or clarifying a footing. Something obvious, like maintaining egress, they should definitely get right the first time. However, if the zoning board comes back and says you have to get approval from your neighbors for some feature, and you don't get that approval, that's not the engineer/architect's realm of responsibility, and you need to cover those costs to change the design feature that your neighbors don't want. Another example is historical structures - the local historic commission will dictate color, baluster style, etc. If, after a stint in front of the historic commission, they require the plans to be modified because of aesthetics, then the engineer/architect has to re-do the plans and they have to be compensated for that work. The historic folks have the best interests of the neighborhood in mind, but typically you don't walk out of the first meeting without some sort of change.

The $100 an hour fee for visits is standard. Charging for site visits is standard. Charging for time in front of the planning board or historic commission is standard. I usually include physically walking the DIY client down to town hall to pull a permit if they've never done it before. And it's a teaching visit: I explain all the offices, introduce folks, explain the permit forms, etc.

As for per square foot pricing, I have ball park estimate standards I use internally to slide projects into my work schedule, but the pricing gets put together like this: time required for assessments and code case analysis, time required for programming (sitting with you and collecting the design features that you want), time required for calculations, time required for drafting, etc. What happens is if you change your mind down the road prior to construction, it's not a simple matter of doing an extra print. We still have to do all of the due diligence stuff over again.

(Another tip: you may get drawings as your end product, but there are calculations and tables and code case studies that get done and you may never see unless you ask for a copy.)

So when you change your mind, the code case has to get looked at again, the calcs have to get looked at again, etc. Say you added 3 feet along an entire wall to those two bedrooms. I wouldn't charge you the ratio of floor areas. I would charge you what it took me to do the work: assessment, code case, programming, calcs, drafting. The time might be only an hour, it might be a full day. Per square foot pricing on this sort of thing never makes any sense. Example: smaller projects or changes to small projects become increasingly more expensive per square foot when you look at it from a per square foot basis, because there is due diligence work that has to be done no matter what the size of the job.
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Old 01-14-2009, 09:36 AM   #4
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I am in discussion with a client for a large addition. They paid $15K for their designs and construction plans.
- Build Well -
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Old 01-14-2009, 10:38 AM   #5
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Thank you for all of the informative responses. I have found the answers I am looking for. I decided to used you as a good reference as to what a good deal was, because you guys have probably had a lot more experience in this area. This is my first architect and first engineer, and hopefully the process will be as smooth as I am lead to believe.

Thanks again!
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