CivilStructural.com.my 25 Aug 2013
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Civil and structural consulting engineers in term of monetary!(Beginner)

Now days, it is not easy to become a civil and structural consulting engineer. First of all you have to go through 4 years education study; i.e. university level. After graduation, you have to go through industrial training for many years. The gaining of working experience is mainly depending on your personality and change of expose to engineering world. Some of you may just working as a design engineer for 5 years and without any site experience. After you have acquainting of enough working experience, then you can apply for professional engineer status. You have to go through interview and gain the acknowledgement of your professional experience. You have to continuo engineering journey.

As an overall conclusion, as a consulting engineer will has more cons as compare to pros.

First of all, remuneration of engineer is low. As employee view of point; the “standard rate” of starting salary is varies according to the country economy. As for example; during recession period (+1997), starting salary for a graduate engineer is about RM700.00. This salary is much lesser than a general clerk salary. Indirectly discourages graduates to become a civil engineer. One two years before recession period, the salary of graduate engineer can easily meet up to RM2500.00. Salary fluctuation is high. As a result, the graduates have to base on their luck and timing of their graduation. In year of 2007, our country is exporting experience engineer to Dubai to work. The remuneration is so good and attracted a number of engineers to there. Indirectly, our country will have shortage of experience engineers. It may come to a point that country has to import engineers. New generation of worker will not loyalties to a company, they main work about one to two years at a company and move to another company for demanding of higher salary.

Where else, in employer view; the professional fees are getting more and more competitive. In order to bid for a project, consulting engineer has to lower down his fees. In certain even, these fees have gone below his operation cost. Consulting engineer operate below cost and losing money. In order to ‘survive’, consulting engineer has to get more projects to overcome such losses. The more projects handled by consulting engineer, the lesser of projects attention. In a way, qualities of work may have been affected. It comes to quantities. It is chicken and egg scenario. Do you believe that a house extension can go so low until RM250.00 for professional fees? In seen has a scenario of consulting engineer is fighting for survive and competing on professional service.

Now days, all of people especially property developers are getting a number of ‘Free’ consultancy service. Initial stage, they are telling consulting engineer that they have a project or number of projects for engineer. They will ask engineer for a number of advices like propose preliminary design, having site visits and authorities submission. These kinds of service may range from few months to years. Some time, come to end the project has awarded to another consulting engineer. The previous engineer has gained nothing. There will not have any secure protection for that engineer who doing ‘Free’ service. It is quite often that consulting engineer proposes professional fees of project. Somehow the letter of award will not be given when the engineer service is performing. It will take certain months to award a project. Sometime after project completion, the award letter still not received. When engineer is rendering his service, there will be a number of verbal acknowledgements of fees. The engineering service cannot charge like lawyer service. Lawyer may charge you for hours of service. But engineer cannot charge in term of hours.

Let say the engineer has given a project for a particular of professional fees. Another problem may occur is time frame. Most of project award will not take into consideration of project time frame. As for example; housing project, if a housing project is taken 2 years to complete. The project has been delay and end up to 5 years. Consulting engineer will end of with losing money for this project. Because the professional fees are gathered for this project will not work for 5 years. Normally housing developer will not allow for reimbursement of extension of time frame. Furthermore, government is implement of one stop centre concept will worsen the burden of engineer. No doubt government is telling engineers that they can increase the professional fees according to board of engineer guideline. It comes to a question of “Can engineer increase the professional fees in actual world?”

Another dilemma that faced by engineer is fees collection. During fees proposal, there will be bargained on fees proposed. Most of the time is the fees proposed will be lowered. Whenever this stage is successful, project is awarded to engineer and engineer is starting rendering his service. When come to stage of fees collection, most of time engineer will not able to collect full amount of his collection. As for example, when engineer is claiming for RM20,000 of engineering fees. He will be able to collect 50% of fees. Every stages of collection will not obtain 100%. There will be one more main critical issue is the final stage of collection; i.e. the retention sum of professional fees, these fees will retain until after the defect liability period. When time comes, it will be a difficult part for engineer to collect these remaining fees. If the particular developer has further projects for engineer than the retention will more secure else it may end up with nothing. Certain developers will tell engineer that they will pay professional fees when their project starts launching in market. If sales not achieve as expect, engineer will not get single cents. It is because of lacking of reputation property developers in market.

Whenever, developer project is not ‘Good’ selling or developer lack of fund. It will come to stage that developer will has to propose contra properties to consulting engineer. It will make engineer in trouble of exchange properties into cash. Most of these properties are unsold able units. These are difficult to release into market. There also has case of contra of food vouchers. This even worst and no one want to have it. Certain case, the contra issue has been stated in the letter of award to engineer. Where can an engineer to get the money to pay staffs salaries?

In term of professional liability, there will not have a time frame of liability of engineer. For the amount of professional fees charged and unlimited time frame, it is a long term burden for engineer. It is unfair to all engineers. If a building collapse after 20 years, do you thing that particular engineer still can remember what he had been done to that building? Anyhow, he is liable to it. For other country there will be a time frame of professional liability.
Written by scchee
Disclaimer: the above article is based on writer personal opinion on civil and structural field. It will not represent any ultimate solution of any mention subjects. Writer will not responsible for any causes arise.

Reading level: Beginner.
(Updated 10/8/07)
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