Adding Engineering & Construction Management Services


nVisionTEKBIM
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Hello fellow Chief users! I'm curious if anyone has expanded their drafting service to include things like engineering, construction, construction management, interior design, ect.? If you have, how do you limit your liability for licensed professional services when you are a Chief drafter and not a licensed professional.

 

I always tell my customers to go to their own engineer, so I'm not putting myself in a legal trap of liability for their services. Do you partner with other service providers, or do you have them as independent contractors as you would be outsourcing services that you don't perform yourself? My business has been myself for the last few years, but I'd like to eventually grow my business. I just don't want to have employees that I have to constantly pay when my workload is not stable. 

 

Also, how do you handle the communication between your customers and your outsource contractors? How would you even respond to your customers if their questions & issues are about a service you are not an expert on, which you outsource?

 

Gosh, this is such a stressful thing to worry about.

 

 

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Seeing as you are already off on your own you may not like this advice, but if you work for other successful businesses of the type you'd like to be, you'll surely complain about putting in a lot of long hours earning relatively low dollars, but in return you'll gain extremely valuable insight into how to operate a successful business of your own....both what to do and what not to do.
In the mean time I would recommend sticking with what you know and letting others provide the services that they know as completely separate services hired directly by your client.  When you write a proposal you can indicate what other consultant services will be needed in order to complete the process and indicate that you will recommend the consultants with which you prefer to work.

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I have been doing plans for the last 31 years now and never had a problem (knock on wood). There is no regulation saying that you have to be a licensed Architect to do plans for residential as far as I know. I'm sure there are limitations like in commercial. I know if you do TI work over 3000 sq ft you have to be licensed. In residential anything structural I send out to a licensed engineer and the pages are added to the plan set with his or her wet stamp.

I don't worry about liability. I'm an experienced licensed contractor and have insurance and I do quality work and I treat people right.
Just be careful not to get in over you head with difficult jobs. I do the simple jobs and hire out licensed architects for the more complicated jobs.

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12 hours ago, nVisionTEKBIM said:

how do you limit your liability for licensed professional services when you are a Chief drafter and not a licensed professional.

You can't. If you are offering all of those things, you are liable for those things. In many states though, like architecture, you can not practice interior design without a license. Every time the liability issue comes up on here I am amazed at all the creative ways people try to have limited to no liability for the product you are putting out there. For me, if I design and prepare the plans for a project...I am liable for the design and the plans that convey it. 

 

Know your stuff and pay your premiums. 

 

Also, if you are going to join the professionals, become one. Look at some community college course, look at the continuing education sites and opportunities that are out there and take some of those courses. 

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1 hour ago, joey_martin said:

For me, if I design and prepare the plans for a project...I am liable for the design and the plans that convey it. 

Yep, I know. On a recent project I had a homeowner give me a file that they worked on in Home Designer, and wanted me to create permit & construction sets for them to build from. Not only was there issues in the design meeting code, but there were software glitches that made it a nightmare to work on in Chief. Then, the homeowner demanded the file at certain intervals so he could do some work on the design and give it back to me. He caused so many issues for me that I had to take my name off of the drawings so I'm not having subcontractors call/email me during construction with questions that waste my time. He would do research online and tell me how do do the framing, footings, ect.....all the stuff that is for professionals like us to manage. 

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15 minutes ago, nVisionTEKBIM said:

Not only was there issues in the design meeting code, but there were software glitches that made it a nightmare to work on in Chief. Then, the homeowner demanded the file at certain intervals so he could do some work on the design and give it back to me. He caused so many issues

I recently had this same problem sort of. I originally did the measure, existing and proposed plan. Gave the plan back to the contractor to review. A couple of years later now, I just got notified that the builder and homeowner made huge changes. The new plan didn't meet local deed restrictions so it had to be dramatically downsized. The problem is that the builder using Chief isn't good with the program and had the plan messed up bad. I won't do this again. Now, once I start a plan, no one else will play with or alter the plan. If the builder requires the plan file, I'll now turn down the job.

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11 minutes ago, RGWhite said:

When a home owner starts telling you how to build that is a red flag to get out of there!  

Yeah! It's like if we took our vehicle to a mechanic to have the transmission or engine worked on, then walk into their shop and tell them how to do their job. As drafters, all we need is the requirements (wither look or performance) of the finished home, and we do it. Now if I'm working for a builder or architect and they specify construction details, then it's their call, obviously.

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1 hour ago, tommy1 said:

If the builder requires the plan file, I'll now turn down the job.

I'd like to be that picky, but I've had many projects with builders that work with Chief and either provide me the file that is started, or want the file when I'm done. Although their name/logo is on the drawings so I'm more like outsourced labor which I'm fine with.

 

Something I've learned though is, if anyone gives me a file to work on I charge an hourly rate. If I can do it from scratch than I may be able to do a flat-rate. Many times customers have given me files partially started and expected a discount. Even after my discount I discovered it didn't save me any time since I had to fix many issues in the file.

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I have been asked to do construction management, to which I say "no thank you very much".

Here in California, unlicensed designers are not allowed to provide engineering services.  I have two engineers that I work with and they contract directly with the client.  I do work closely with the engineers and add their measures to my plans.  One engineer provides his own detail sheets, the other lets me draw them myself.  The second engineer also uses Chief and we have traded details with each other.

 

Regarding interior design, I can barely dress myself.  I have a very good interior designer who I send my clients to.

 

Good luck!

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10 hours ago, nVisionTEKBIM said:

I'd like to be that picky,

I  generally stay very busy. My engineer refers people to me which is about 90% of  my work...so much that I turn down at least one job/week. I'm now retired and want to slow down but so far that's not happening. Wish I had another good Chief user in Houston.

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16 hours ago, mborean said:

I have been asked to do construction management, to which I say "no thank you very much".

Here in California, unlicensed designers are not allowed to provide engineering services.  I have two engineers that I work with and they contract directly with the client.  I do work closely with the engineers and add their measures to my plans.  One engineer provides his own detail sheets, the other lets me draw them myself.  The second engineer also uses Chief and we have traded details with each other.

 

Regarding interior design, I can barely dress myself.  I have a very good interior designer who I send my clients to.

 

Good luck!

I am unlicensed and in California and often do my own engineering coupled with prescriptive code and get 99 of 100 plans through Alameda/Contra Costa/Sonoma/Solano etc. Counties on a regular basis. 

I absolutely sub out engineering on projects where I don't wish to take on the liability...but give me a flat lot with a 400 sq ft addition in Oakland or Walnut Creek and I'll run with it with confidence.

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Not sure how the laws in your state addresses the design/construction process and liability.  I am in Florida and as long as you follow all codes you should nor have a lot to worry about.  BUT if you do not know the codes then watch out. See statue 553.84 "contractor knew or should have known".  Plus the statue of repose is 10 years on defects. After 200+ trials on defects I have been schooled.  Not law suits against me, I worked with law firms as an expert as a side gig.  You wouldn't believe the cases I have seen and the problems, yikes.  

(The best one was the home owner suing the contractor who sued the architect.  The contractor was the son of the architect.  It was better than a soap opera!)

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9 hours ago, Gawdzira said:

@Renerabbitt dude you are rolling the dice. Your clients can afford an engineer to size beams and do lateral calcs. If they can not, get other clients. Don't cowboy this stuff in earthquake land.

 

I love that phrase, ha. Great advise honestly, and appreciated. I'm confident and comfortable with the work that I've done. If I don't feel comfortable, I employ an engineer.

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15 hours ago, Renerabbitt said:

I love that phrase, ha. Great advise honestly, and appreciated. I'm confident and comfortable with the work that I've done. If I don't feel comfortable, I employ an engineer.

 

I'm with you on this one Rene, I have been doing plans in the Whittier and La County areas for 31 years now and I don't have a problem with the small room additions. If the plan checker approves it I go for it and use a engineer like you for the two stories and more difficult stuff. This is not illegal it is accepted if you know what your doing and what codes to follow. If your not comfortable with it you should not do it.

 

Now on the other hand, you can get in a lot of trouble doing Construction Management without a contractors license. That's crossing the line big time. I have had to cleanup several jobs that unlicensed contractors have screwed up.

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On 5/31/2020 at 6:47 PM, nVisionTEKBIM said:

how do you limit your liability for licensed professional services when you are a Chief drafter and not a licensed professional

If you find a way, please let us know.  Even in the "residential" realm where an Arch. stamp may not be required, the place to begin is with your Insurance Agent, as the current fashion seems to be not covering liability for anyone without a "stamp".

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