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What Factors Affect the Cost of a Structural Engineer?

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  • Written By: Erik J.J. Goserud
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Like any business, the prices of a good or service can fluctuate depending on a number of circumstances. Factors affecting the cost of a structural engineer are not much different than those affecting other industries. Among these factors are the duration of the project, the experience of the engineer, and the complexity of the endeavor.

Structural engineers are an integral part of the present-day world. Every time someone drives past a building or any structure, there is some sort of engineering behind it. Engineering is a somewhat broad term describing the planning, management, and execution of a project. Engineers are to thank for the roads people drive on, the sewage systems that keep society cleanly, and the workplaces most use to earn money. They are usually involved in many capacities within a project.

Most structures are built on a project-by-project basis, so many engineers are contracted out for a specific amount of time pertaining to a project. This is why the cost of a structural engineer is very important and extremely variable. Most structural engineers are contracted and not staffed.

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The first major variable in the cost of a structural engineer is the duration of a project. A project taking years costs more than a day's worth of construction. All aspects of longer projects are more demanding and usually cost more. A lump sum or hourly rate may be contracted into a project agreement, but in either case, the cost of a structural engineer is directly proportional to project length and difficulty.

The experience of a particular engineer or group of engineers is also likely to change the cost of a structural engineer. Experience means more opportunity to learn and improve; therefore, more experienced engineers are likely to perform better work. For this reason, their rates tend to be higher as they know that they are more capable and desirable. Project managers must find ways to acquire the most qualified engineers for the best price. Inexperienced engineers may save money, but they pose the risk of botching an important project, while on the other hand, experienced engineers will probably be successful in executing a project, but they may cost a pretty penny.

Complexity is another aspect of a project that can determine the cost of a structural engineer. If the project is simple, then less time may be needed from an engineer, resulting in a smaller fee. A complex problem will probably require a lot of brainstorming and development before execution, which can also add to the cost of a structural engineer. More often than not, there are also a number of unforeseen factors that can fluctuate prices of labor.

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