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Last edited 09 Nov 2020
Structural engineers' fees
Fees are generally payments to consultants to cover work they have undertaken for clients under the terms of an agreement. They are generally paid in instalments, either on regular dates or at pre-agreed stages of completed work.
Structural engineers fees may be calcuated based on time charges, as a fixed lump sum or as a percentage of the overall project cost. Fees are entirely dependent on the nature of the project and the circumstances of the appointment. Large new-build projects may attract lower percentage fees than small works to existing buildings (see table below), commercial work may attract lower fees than private residential work, and works to historic or listed buildings may attract higher fees.
- Charging a lump sum, particularly for small projects (eg £1,000 for a standard domestic extension, plus extra for structural details or special foundations; or £750 for a loft conversion inclusive of calculations and structural details);
- Flat-rate fees: site visits (eg starting at £150 per visit); design of steel beams and bearing details (eg, £75 for a single beam and £50 for each beam thereafter); masonry check (eg £100); goal-post frame (eg £200 - £300); and steel connections (eg £50 per connection).
- Hourly or daily rates (eg £80-£100/hour; £400-£500 per half day, etc);
- A percentage of the project’s total cost (see table below).
The fee percentage will depend on the size of the project (in project cost terms). The following table gives the fees a structural engineer might charge (at 2013 prices) for work undertaken on commercial office developments in London of varying costs.
|Construction cost (excl. contingencies and VAT)||Under £1.5m||£1.5m - £3m||£3m - £10m||£10m - £25m||£25m –£50m||£50m+|
|Struct'al engineer % and actual fee||
Other things that might affect the fees charged include:
- Type and complexity of project (eg hospital v industrial shed);
- Scope of services. For example, full design and site inspection will attract a higher fee than a preliminary design that is then developed by the contractor;
- Anticipated repeat and/or bespoke elements of the design;
- Location of site and other consultant practices;
- Reputation of practice. For example, an accomplished engineering firm may charge more than one that is newly qualified;
- Client organisation and track record. This may affect how much support is required and the risk perceived by the engineers;
- Conditions of engagement. For example, the requirement for collateral warranties and partnering arrangements;
- Anticipated programme and resources required.
- Economic climate. Fees may be lower during recessions and higher during booms;
- Consultant workload, and
- Assessment of the competencies of other consultants.
When agreeing fees, it is important to be clear exactly what services are being provided, for example, do the fees include travel, printing costs, outline and detailed planning applications and so on. For more information see: Scope of services.
Professional institutes used to publish recommended fee scales expressed as a percentage of construction costs for a range of different building types. However, legislation aimed at preventing anti-competitive behaviour forced the institutes to abolish these scales, leaving little guidance for clients about what is normal.
Consequently, bidding for consultancy work has become a free-for-all in a highly competitive market. Some commentators argue that this has driven down fees, however, it may also have driven down standards and led to much design work being transferred from consultants to specialist contractors and suppliers who include design costs in their building agreements.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Appointing consultants.
- Architects fees.
- Base date.
- Charge-out rate.
- Construction organisations and strategy.
- Consultant team.
- Contractual obligation.
- Design team.
- Hourly rate.
- Letter of appointment.
- Planning fees.
- Quantity surveyor’s fees.
- Schedule of services.
- Scope of services.
- Winning work.
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