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johnnymnemonic 11-09-2011 08:11 PM

Renovation: Paying for Civil Engineer Inspections
Prior to our condo renovation, we hired a civil engineer to produce plans and submit them to the building department in our town. We signed a contract with our engineer for the plans. The plans were approved by the building department on the condition, among others, that the engineer inspect the interim work, I think twice during the renovation.

The engineer would like us, the owners, to pay for these inspections. There was no mention of inspections in our contract nor do we have any other contracts in place with the engineer. The renovation has begun and the engineer has already been called by the contractor to inspect once.

My questions here are:
* is it our responsibility to pay for the engineer's inspections?
* if not, whose responsibility is it? perhaps the contractor's? or the building department's?
* can we formally ask the engineer not to perform the second scheduled inspection, so that we don't end up having to pay the engineer?
* if the law doesn't say anything about responsibility, who normally pays for these things?

What are your thoughts or experience with this kind of stuff? We're in Westchester County in NY.

joecaption 11-09-2011 08:26 PM

Must be totaly differant there. Once the plans have been submited and approved and paid for I see no reason he should have to be called in agin unless there a problum with the plans. The only person the inspecter should have to deal with is the contractor, and only then if he's not following the plans they have already approved.
Just what are you doing in a simple job condo that would have needed calling in an engineer?

nealtw 11-09-2011 08:51 PM

Up here we draw up the plans and submit them to the city. If the limits on beams are being stretched or things like that, the city will require an engineer be involved and then he would have to inspect that part of thr job. The city inspects the rest. It is an extra charge that the home owner pays for.
I would go talk to city and find out what they need, Unless you are making major structural changes, it dosn't make sense.

BridgeMan 11-09-2011 09:12 PM

Ah, yes, those pesky engineers who expect to be paid for their time! Some nerve, huh?

All teasing aside (I'm a licensed P.E., multiple states), it would behoove you to spend a few dollars, enabling the engineer to ensure that the work is being performed to his (and subsequently, your) satisfaction. Especially since those were the terms specified by the building department. Your engineer is familiar with the project, and best able to determine that things will be done in an appropriate manner. If he finds only one instance of faulty workmanship of a critical element, or inappropriate materials being used, the few hundred dollars you've paid him will be just a very small fraction of what you will have to pay later to have the faulty work/materials corrected.

When I was actively self-employed, I encountered a similar scenario on a Colorado building retrofit project for a subdivision's management agency (Metro). After a very thorough field review and analysis of what the building needed, I worked up and stamped the plans, which were approved by the County Building Department. I had made it clear to Metro that any field inspections they or the Building Department wanted would be done at reduced cost to them (offered a 25% break off my normal hourly rate), but they chose not to request any inspection service while the work was performed. And, you guessed it, shortly after the work had been completed, I received a call from the Metro Manager, asking if I'd be willing to come over and "talk about" a number of things that had obviously been done incorrectly, and asking if I could suggest the best ways to make corrections. When I explained that I had too many paying projects to take off from to work for free, he was not happy, and said their project budget had already been depleted. Never did find out how they resolved the problems .

inspectorD 11-10-2011 06:34 PM

I have to gree with Bridgeman on this now, or pay later. It's your biggest investment.

johnnymnemonic 11-10-2011 08:18 PM

Thanks guys. Will do. I guess I just didn't like how the add'l cost sneaked up on me. Had I known it upfront, I may have shopped differently for an engineer. It's a hidden cost, right?

nealtw 11-11-2011 02:22 PM

It may be the best money spent on the whole project.

BridgeMan 11-11-2011 04:17 PM

I think the only "sneaking up on you" was done by your building department, when they demanded the engineer perform field inspections instead of their own personnel doing them (as is usually the case for permit work--maybe an explanation is due from the building department, describing exactly why they wanted an engineer to do their work). I'm curious as to exactly what you had the engineer do for you.

And I suspect if you look carefully at the contract you signed with the engineer, there will be detailed wording describing the exact services he was to perform for you under that agreement. Along with a brief mention regarding additional charges for any services beyond the scope of the original contract.

johnnymnemonic 11-13-2011 06:39 PM

Then maybe the building department isn't really sneaking up on me, and they are merely saying that an engineer must bless the work. This in turn would mean that it's the contractor's responsibility to hire an engineer to inspect the work. That the contractor called the engineer who came up with the plans could be just a coincidence.

I will discuss with the building department and see what comes up. I'll try to also keep you posted for the benefit of this thread.

oldognewtrick 11-13-2011 09:17 PM

Seems to me that the engineer fulfilled the work that you paid him for. If additional services are required, he should be compensated for his time and knowledge. If you didn't negotiate this before hand, this isn't his problem. If the building dept required additional visits from the engineer and you didn't relay this to the engineer, the toothpaste is out of the tune.

Who initially contracted with the engineer, you or your contractor?

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