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Mech Designer

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Mech Designer

I am not sure if this is the right place to post this, but I am wondering if there are any self employed draftspeople or managers of drafting departments that frequent this forum?

I am a self employed draftsperson and am having some issues lately with the following;

1. Clients not wanting to pay extra for changes. I seem to be encountering more and more where clients expect that I will just revise drawings for free. Some of these changes are not due to a re-design and this is where it can become a grey area. Here are some of the reason I am asked to change drawings - The client might want to save some money and cut back on duct, or the client has not provided enough or correct information, the Client has changed routing on site etc etc. Another chestnut that I see more and more is the client will save a bunch of changes for the as built revision and claim that this is a part of the initial quote.

What do you guys do with regards to this kind of thing?

2. Professional Insurance - Do you guys have any thing like this, in the event someone tries to sue you over mistakes or omissions?

3. Contracts / working agreements - Does anyone use these? What is a good way to word them?

Thanks,

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tzframpton

I own a business and have 3 employees. We are a highly specialized MEP CAD design company, using BIM processes via the Revit platform, but still do a fair share of 2D AutoCAD drafting. I'll address your responses:

1. Clients not wanting to pay extra for changes. I seem to be encountering more and more where clients expect that I will just revise drawings for free. Some of these changes are not due to a re-design and this is where it can become a grey area. Here are some of the reason I am asked to change drawings - The client might want to save some money and cut back on duct, or the client has not provided enough or correct information, the Client has changed routing on site etc etc. Another chestnut that I see more and more is the client will save a bunch of changes for the as built revision and claim that this is a part of the initial quote. What do you guys do with regards to this kind of thing?
You need an agreement/contract that spells this out. Here's what we do:

 

Revisions outside of original scope are billed - period. The original agreement specifies original scope. As-builts are always included in our cost. It's too little of an issue to hit up for more money and clients expect it. Our jobs are very well coordinated so as-builts for us are very simple.

 

But you need agreements and contracts in place. In these agreements, you need both inclusions and exclusions. Examples of inclusions could be as-builts or revisions. Examples of exclusions could be as-builts or revisions. You need to decide where you will place them. For me, under my exclusions, I always have things like addendum's or revisions, printed sets, any engineering services of any kind, etc.

 

2. Professional Insurance - Do you guys have any thing like this, in the event someone tries to sue you over mistakes or omissions?
Yes, I have two policies: General Liability and Errors and Omissions, both $1 million policies. It runs me about $2,700/yr for both packages.

 

3. Contracts / working agreements - Does anyone use these? What is a good way to word them?
Yes, contact a lawyer. Do not - I repeat - DO NOT attempt to do this yourself if you're serious about it. If you're not a lawyer, then you have no business writing contracts. The money is worth it if you go down this road, just pull the trigger.

 

Hope this helps!

 

-TZ

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CyberAngel

It would seem to me that doing #3 properly can go a long way towards fixing #1 and even #2. That is, tell the client up front what your contributions to the project include and don't include. If the client won't agree to the contract, don't take the job, you'll lose money on it anyway. If the client welshes on the contract, you have something in writing to take to court. Of course, you'll want to have a lawyer go over the document.

 

Edit: :o ninja'd by TZ!

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Mech Designer

Thanks guys!

 

The as-builts are something that can really hurt. The changes could range from 25min to hours and hours of work. I am not sure how I can exclude these, because as you say, they seem to be an expectation.

Some of the companies I work with seem to be quite sneaky and will save up a bunch of changes to the end of the project and then just expect me to do the lot for free.

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ReMark

In the fine print include a "nuisance fee" for anything not covered by contract. I call it the PITA fee.

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tzframpton

This will probably be a hard sell to your client, but you could always have a clause in your agreement that states all as-built drafting is an hourly fee. Our bottom dollar fee is $65/hr for just simple drafting. So if it's 2 hours or 20 hours, multiply that by $65/hr and that's the added fee.

 

Or, do what I do: my original fee includes an estimated as-built fee. Since we typically create shop drawings based off coordinated BIM processes there is usually very little as-built efforts. But anyways, you can always provide an additional line item that estimates as-built hours with a separate dollar amount given. It gives your client a chance to say "keep it just in case" which gives you the upper hand, as you're increasing your fee and you may not have much or any as-builts, or "naw we don't need that, take it off" and if it comes up, you're covered as you can re-submit your agreement saying they opted out.

 

There are many ways. Also be aware that clients are weary of "all the sudden changes" to what they're used to paying. So don't surprise them, instead call or go in person/treat them to a lunch and let them know you'll have to revise your fee based off previous projects and how they feel about it. Just something to the nature of a "heads up" which they'll appreciate.

 

On a side note, you absolutely do need to be paid for your work. But at the same time, companies in the sub-contracting world have a very, very tight budget to work with and they need hard numbers, which is difficult for vendors to always estimate 100%. So it'll be a little give and take. I've had potential clients literally hang up on me because of my fees... they just don't understand - or want to understand, rather - how much effort it takes to give them an end product that works.

 

-TZ

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bjenk8100

Progress payments are a great way. If its a big job you can make milestones. You can make final approval of one progress payment a milestone. In contract say that after final approval of first progress payment anything revised within that time period will be charged at a particular rate. Yea gotta get someone to write a good contract than you can typically reuse it if you do the same services. Or even read other people's contracts, lol.

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