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Old 03-01-2012, 05:39 PM   #1
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


Found a company a couple miles from my home that does structural and civil engineering. My basement has jack posts every 6' right down the middle of what I want to finish into a large room (currently unfinished). Asked for a quote for them to give me an analysis on how big an I-beam it would take to displace the load, or what better ideas they had. They told me $400.

I am not an engineer, but I do own a small business and appreciate what others' time is worth. Is this along the lines of the cost of a structural engineer? I was thinking more in line with half that, but I've never consulted one before. Maybe there is a lot more involved here than I understand.

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Old 03-01-2012, 05:46 PM   #2
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


Consider how much time it is going to take them. First, they have to visit your house. Takes at least 2 hours for all the measurements, travel time to and from house. Then they need to draw up the plans. You are going to submit to the building department? So you need plans. Then they probably have to talk to the building inspector. Maybe not, maybe so. In any case, by the time it is all done, they spend at least 4 hours, maybe more like 6 hours if there are any issues, you want to discuss how to install the beam, you want them to talk to your contractor to make sure your contractor understands everything. Maybe its 8 hours.

I am a structural engineer, I am licensed, very rarely will I work for a homeowner, no offense, but hardly any of them think my time is worth $75 to $100 and hour, yet that is what I get when I do commercial or industrial work. At $75 an hour for 8 hours, the job would be worth close to $600, but you think it is closer to a $200 job, which is what most homeowners think. So I don't work for homeowners, no point arguing value.

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Old 03-01-2012, 06:00 PM   #3
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


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Consider how much time it is going to take them. First, they have to visit your house. Takes at least 2 hours for all the measurements, travel time to and from house. Then they need to draw up the plans. You are going to submit to the building department? So you need plans. Then they probably have to talk to the building inspector. Maybe not, maybe so. In any case, by the time it is all done, they spend at least 4 hours, maybe more like 6 hours if there are any issues, you want to discuss how to install the beam, you want them to talk to your contractor to make sure your contractor understands everything. Maybe its 8 hours.
No disagreement from me. I'm saying its a big "I don't know", maybe its insanely cheap for what I need. I laugh when you say two hours of measuring because I don't know what all is getting sized up. I look at it and see a simple load carried between two sections of a new modular right out in the open. Talking to the inspector never crossed my mind. In the eyes of someone who doesn't know the details it seems as quick as footings needed and a spreadsheet of load displacement over how long a span. I know I am wrong, that's why I asked. Thanks!
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:11 PM   #4
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


This is the same old mistake (Misconception) that so many people (Home Owners) make about costs. They think that the entire $400 is all gravy when it is not....

Structural Engineers (especially engineering companies) are responsible for people's lives and safety. As such, they also must carry expensive insurance policies in addition to many other costs.

There is overhead, fuel, time, transportation maintenance, accounting, taxes, office space costs, electricity, licensing, state fees, permits, all kinds of insurances, etc, etc, etc.

I am not an engineer, but running my business costs over $30K + a year for the above points and other aspects.
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:24 PM   #5
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


Here is a story, in this shop they a special machine, the machine broke down. All the repairmen tried to get the machine up and running with out any luck. So they call a repairman that was specially trained on repairing this type of machine. It took an hour for the repairman to show up. He looked the machine over for about 5 minutes, took a small brass hammer out of his tool box and tapped the machine. The machine started running. The bill was $1000.00 because he knew where to tap the machine with a hammer.
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:30 PM   #6
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


You could, as an alternative, buy a box of thin Cheap Chinese girly colored hard hats to wear around the house when you live in it.



Hope and pray for the best.

Has always been worth it to me to have a structural engineer or an architect sign off or stamp drawings.

Of course none of mine have actually ever been paid. Fairly and if I were to refer you they would tell you so.

And for all I know their licenses were totally flaky.

Pay them. But demand a discussion at least in the experience.

Last edited by user1007; 03-01-2012 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:56 PM   #7
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


Its like any other service you call in, you could always get another opinion/quote.

I think rate will vary alot depending on the area of the country you are in, seeing the burbs of Detroit, I am sure you could do better.

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Old 03-01-2012, 07:02 PM   #8
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


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Pay them. But demand a discussion at least in the experience.
That's all I was asking.

The thought of insurance never crossed my mind so I asked. You're right, if I followed the advice and it went wrong I'd come looking for them.

Yikes, calm down all, nobody said it was an outlandish price. I asked what what involved of an engineer and how they charge. Sorry if I put ya'll on the defensive so easily
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #9
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


$400 is cheap i wouldn't have even questioned that amount. I would pay it without hesitation.

Andy
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:15 PM   #10
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


i totally agree with daniel. the one thing im surprised he didnt mention is that when a engineer does up a drawing that they put their seal on the drawing that shows their a licensed engineer.. if they calculate something wrong and it structurally fails their liable and be sued. they charge for their expertise and provide you with a safe means of altering the structure of a home

$400 is cheap, hell its a great price. most of the homes i work on HAVE to have an engineer brought it in to spec beams to pick up loads that are now created because of what an architect or draftsman dreamed up. the bill can be upwards of $2500 for one house before any alterations to teh structure are made.. once its done the engineer will come back out and check to see if everything was done to what the drawing showed
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Old 03-01-2012, 09:41 PM   #11
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


How many engineers will even go into the burbs of Detroit?

I lived in northern lower MI for 7 years and would never spend much time near there and had to settle for a hotel in Ann Arbor before escaping.

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Old 03-01-2012, 10:00 PM   #12
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


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$400 is cheap i wouldn't have even questioned that amount. I would pay it without hesitation.

Andy

Exactly what I was thinking and he has the same name as I.

Just a weird coincidence? Or is it?

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Old 03-01-2012, 10:00 PM   #13
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


How many engineers will even go into the burbs of Detroit?

too funny, burbs of Detroit are no big deal
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:00 PM   #14
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


Hardway -

Probably not a big deal if you are accustomed to it, but running out of gas at midnight in Beijing, China is much, much safer. Maybe that is why I do not go to that area unless I am well paid. Flint would also be at the bottom of my list.

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Old 03-01-2012, 11:48 PM   #15
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Perhaps I should have been a structural engineer?


75 to 100 per hour is not out of line. Some dealerships charge 90 an hour to work on a car or even just to diagnose. Why are you dealing directly with the with the structural engineer instead of through a GC? Are you planning to install the beam yourself? They might give a building contractor a better rate and it would wind up costing you less if your are hiring it done. There's quite a lot to installing a center beam under a house house in a basement.

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