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  1. #1
    bloo skeye's Avatar
    bloo skeye Guest

    Default Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    (I hope I am posting this in the proper section of the forum.)

    Our home is the end residence in a row of EXTREMELY MODEST, old (1930's), brick 2-story homes in a seaside town in New Jersey. The exposed wall is covered with a thick, heavy sheet of stucco siding which is separating from the underlying brick and in danger of collapse. From what we can see through the fissures and cracks, the brick may be in bad condition and even crumbling in areas.

    An engineer informed us he could evaluate the damage to the house and advise us as to the least expensive repair option (and give us his opinion as to whether the house is actually worth saving!).

    The engineer would be checking the damaged wall (probably removing some stucco to check the condition of the underlying brick and wood frame), going under the house (crawl space) to inspect the foundation, and checking the inside of the house to determine whether or not the house is worth repairing. For this evaluation, he would charge $875, which seems a little high. We have no idea what professionals in this discipline charge for their expertise and are wondering if $875 is fair. He initially offered to write up a proposal, but has since declined and just wants us to hand him a check when he comes. Is that standard practice?

    Thank you for any assistance.


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  2. #2
    C.Johnson's Avatar
    C.Johnson Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Check with the BBB or Angies List for a local engineer for price comparison or to just find a new engineer.

    I agree with AD, no agreement is bad practice!


  3. #3
    bloo skeye's Avatar
    bloo skeye Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Thank you for your input and suggestions. I appreciate your comments. Checking the BBB and Angie's List and state board of engineers are all good recommendations. Also, I will insist on a written proposal. I had my doubts when he decided not to put anything in writing.

    A.D Miller and C. Johnson thank you for the information and advice.

    Last edited by bloo skeye; 07-11-2010 at 05:16 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    In my area such a PE evaluation would be in the $400 to $500 range and that would be with a written report. You know that you already have a problem so you might do just as well if you got a few good contractors to provide you with an estimate of what it would take to repair it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    In my area such a PE evaluation would be in the $400 to $500 range and that would be with a written report. You know that you already have a problem so you might do just as well if you got a few good contractors to provide you with an estimate of what it would take to repair it.
    I believe you are absolutely right Scott. This tremendous dependence on an engineers report in residential has grown in leaps and bounds. The day when accomplished contractors that do these things for a living everyday seams to slowly becoming a thing of the past. Contractors have been putting proposals together for the repairs/corrections in homes for all time. For the most part (yes, like always there are bad contractors or engineers) they come down with excellent fixes and repairs.

    For most foundation concerns inn the land of slab homes I usually turn folks to the foundation companies, not an engineering report. Most of the time it is obvious what is going on or should I say what caused the problem.

    Foundation companies on occasion scratch theirs heads and put it to the next step, being engineers.

    A 1930s home with stucco falling away from the brick....more then likely moisture/deteriorating brick and mortar or just deteriorating brick and mortar and the stucco releasing from the brick or the fasteners pulling from the mortar.

    Of course all of that is serious speculation but the point is that contractors in the area probably deal with this all the time and know the fix.

    I love it when I inspect a home and the buyer or seller keeps telling me they understand these things because they are an engineer. Um mm, what kind?


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Quote Originally Posted by bloo skeye View Post
    He initially offered to write up a proposal, but has since declined and just wants us to hand him a check when he comes.

    I've heard that Angie's List is no longer the reliable site it used to be - I've heard that contractors have had to pay to remain on the list, which makes the entire list suspect ... to put it in the most politically correct and nicest way to say it.

    You should not be paying the engineer until all is done and he hands you his signed and sealed engineering report, which should be preceded by a contractual agreement of some type stating what he is going to do, and more importantly (for the engineer) what he is NOT going to do. YOU may want to hang your hat on what the engineer said he would do, but the engineer should want to hang HIS hat on what he said IS NOT GOING TO BE DONE.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    IMO the whole engineer thing, particularly as it pertains to residential construction, is way overblown. The way many HIs defer to them it's as though they are gods of some kind. They can only see things like anyone else but tend to have more/better insurance than the rest of us.

    Okay..... rant over, as for the OP's situation, I agree with the others about getting some contractors to look it over. This would likely be free but beware it's in their best interest for you to have a problem that you need fixed. You might also do some research and find a very experienced HI in your area. You could probably hire two for the same money you're thinking of giving the engineer. And I don't mean to totally cut down engineers..... they have their place but I'd trust an experienced HI over one any day when it comes to a problem like this.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I've heard that Angie's List is no longer the reliable site it used to be - I've heard that contractors have had to pay to remain on the list, which makes the entire list suspect ... to put it in the most politically correct and nicest way to say it.
    I've had my suspicions about Angie's List the past couple of years. They keep trying to get me to go for their paid advertisements to "boost my company name and get it in front of more consumers". Thank you, no. I'll just stand pat with the reviews that are on their site from my past customers and leave it at that. Paying for an ad on Angie's List seems like a questionable way to run a site geared towards consumer protection. Kind of like Consumer Reports asking Toyota to advertise in their publication.


  9. #9
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    leonardo, new jersey
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    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    bloo skeye,

    I am a forensic water intrusion inspector here in New Jersey, Engineers pay me to perform aerial work for stucco and brick failures and water intrusion up and down the coast. The engineers I know, bill out from $110 to $135 per hour for younger Project Managers,$155 + for Sr. Project Managers and Principles are $185 to $210 average.

    You say "will probably remove stucco" I dont know one engineer in my 35 years experience that physically does the work, including myself. Our insurance does not cover that end and we always use a cut crew for invasive work. The contractor has all the tools, caulk, misc materials and insurances to patch the holes when we perform invasives. I collect the data, write a report, the engineer red lines it and signs and seals it.

    There were two large engineering companies that went out of business here in our lovely garden state, so there is a boat load of people jump starting companies and getting on the Stucco /EIFS band wagon that do not know squat.

    These gentleman provided a lot of solid recommendations, you want a detailed proposal, this guy sounds like he is doing what we call a drive by shooting. His price is reasonable because it sounds like he is doing all visual, and will leave you with a host of questions and maybe's and then recommend your next step, which would be invasives with a contractor and another billable day by him.

    I would recomend a invasive for the day and leave you with answers, is it just the stucco failing off the brick ?, is the brick tied back to the buildings sheathing/studs, can a new system be installed on the existing Facade or does the entire wall need to come down. Pay once and collect the data you need. then take the report if needed and have an architect design a new wall cladding.

    Going by your information, you can get a forensic invasive for $1300 and I can recommend a reputable brick/stucco firm out of Point Pleasant. Your going have to pay, be smart about how you pay.

    Joseph Ehrhardt
    Building Forensic Specialist LLC

  10. #10
    Ken Bates's Avatar
    Ken Bates Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    The cost and hassles associated with invasive inspecting may be what pushes the fee into the $800 range.

    In my area (Boston) we have a lot of engineers. I usually refer two. Rene Mugnier (who is a saught-after lecturer and has a useful text with hundreds of large photos) and Anthony Maiocco whose writing skills are on a par with John Updike. Both these gentlemen charge $300 on average and are worth every penny of it.

    RE: Angies list. I am a member and was an advertiser. They hounded me for a long time to be put at the top of their list and be highlighted in yellow.
    I relented and after realized that it made the playing field very unlevel.
    They are constantly inventing new ways to enrich themselves. Was a good idea that prostituted itself for profit. Down with Angies!


  11. #11
    Philip's Avatar
    Philip Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Why stucco over brick in the first place, unless the brick was deteriorating? My feeling is the house exterior will need replacement.


  12. #12
    bloo skeye's Avatar
    bloo skeye Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    Thank you, everybody, for the helpful comments! I've been away from the computer for a few days and was very pleasantly surprised when I logged in and saw all the activity and answers to my post.

    The reason we are considering an engineer in the first place is that:

    1. Because of the condition of the wall, we have a code violation on the building. An official for the city's Division of Construction recommended that we first have an architectural or structural engineer inspect the wall and draw up his report in order to stave off further action by the city.

    2. It is an old building with additional (structural) problems. We need to have a knowledgeable professional tell us if the house is, in fact, worth saving or if it should just be demolished or sold "as is" to a contractor or builder for a very low price.

    We have had contractors look at the wall and give us proposals (between $11,000 and $25,000, plus verbal ball-park estimates as high as $40,000!) We will probably have to rebuild the wall; but we don't know if the remainder of the house is worth the expense --even at the lower end.

    Phillip: I believe the stucco over brick may be the original construction, although now the brick does seem to be deteriorating. It will probably have to be re-built. The practicality of that is the issue and the reason why we need professional advice.

    I have learned so much from all of you helpful folks!

    Thank you, again.


  13. #13
    Mike Truss Guy's Avatar
    Mike Truss Guy Guest

    Default Re: Engineer's inspection fee fair?

    IMHO, $875 for an engineer to stick his neck out on an 80 year old building seems reasonable. It's not necessarily how man hours it takes. It's the fact that he's basically guaranteeing his work for life.



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