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TIPS When Engaging a Consulting Team

1) Where did you hear of the consulting company you are considering engaging?

Did you just find them on the internet, or did someone recommend them to you?

If someone recommended them to you, ask them why they are recommending them, and what was their experience with them.

If you found them (or BCS for that matter) on the internet you have some research to do, and we recommend you consider the following questions.

2)  Does the Consultant have experience in the REQUIRED SCOPE OF SERVICES that you require?

Ask for a list of similar projects and addressed completed by the Consultant.

If possible, drive by, get out and walk around and look at them.

We find project references are a tuff one, cause clients change positions, change phone numbers, Condo Council members change, etc. They are hard to keep track of over the years, and on top of that, we tend to want to respect the privacy of our clientele and not have them answer phone calls for years to come after their project is completed, just to promote BCS.

I am sure you would appreciate that as well.

3) How big is the consulting company?

Don’t let size fool you. Bigger may not always be better.

BCS and the other companies in our Project Consulting Team are all smaller firms, some with as few as only one person in that firm. We have all worked in this manner for many years and prefer this individual corporate setup, as opposed to all working for one larger company. We rely on each other for our expertise in our various disciplines and have a vast knowledge of information and experience combined. Our Project Consulting Team provides for a very skilled and knowledgeable team.

4) Who in the Consulting Team will you be dealing with? Who is doing the work on the project ?

With our Project Consulting Team consisting of smaller individual firms, we are always internally/interactively coordinating, providing resolution, and providing support for the projects that we are involved in at the senior/principal persons level of each of the companies.

We find this provides for a high level of experienced coordination and quicker resolution. Time is money, so the faster items are resolved the more efficient our projects run.

You benefit from this as well.

Larger firms often send junior or intermediate staff with less experience to site, and they must check with superiors prior to making decisions, and you only see those senior/senior/principal personnel on occasion.

Ask who will be working on the project daily ?

With our Project Consulting Team you are always dealing with the principals of the firms.

5) Ask for the resumes of the person(s) who will be working on the project daily ?

BCS’ Project Consultant Team’s resumes are available upon request.

6) Ask for the hourly charge rates for the persons working on the project daily ?

BCS’ Project Consultant Team’s hourly rates are available upon request.

7) Ask about Fees and Break Downs

BCS provides both FIXED FEES and ESTIMATED TARGET FEES for different projects or even different components of a project. There are good reasons for both.

When we can precisely define our SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES to complete the proposed SCOPE OF WORK, we recommend a FIXED FEE. A FIXED FEE is a set FEE for BCS to complete the SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES as required to complete the project’s SCOPE OF WORK.

When we are unaware of the exact scenarios that we will be reviewing, and/or the extent of the SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES, we recommend the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE. An ESTIMATED TARGET FEE is BCS’ best guesstimate of what we think our SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES should be to complete the proposed SCOPE OF WORK. We attempt to estimate sufficient budgets, and hopefully complete the SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES around the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE. If it costs less or more than the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE, the required work will be invoiced accordingly. We are generally very close at the end of the project.

How is a FIXED FEE different from an ESTIMATED TARGET FEE? ESTIMATED TARGET FEES are generally only used with renovations or repair type projects where there are unknows to the SCOPE OF WORK. The biggest difference is in who carries the RISK for the overall cost of the Consultant’s SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES. For a FIXED FEE, BCS must attempt to determine the worst-case scenario for the SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES that ‘MIGHT BE’ required to complete the project, then calculate the FIXED FEE based on that scope of time. Nobody likes to work for free, so in a FIXED FEE all work must be accounted for. But, I capitalized ‘MIGHT BE’ because, if that larger SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES was not actually required, and the Consultant did not actually have to do all the work that they originally thought they might have too, the Consultant still gets paid the full FIXED FEE, because it is a FIXED FEE and the Consultant carried the RISK of the cost of the work.

At BCS, we use our best judgment in evaluating the level of RISK for the overall cost of BCS Fees going into a project, and advise our clients as to the level of RISK, and the best method for them to proceed. BCS’ purpose of the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE is to provide a more realistic ESTIMATED TARGET FEE (than a FIXED FEE) for the SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES to be performed. I state ‘realistic’, because BCS does not have to account for the worst-case scenario within an ESTIMATED TARGET FEE, as we would have to do for a FIXED FEE.

BCS can assume a more reasonable FEE and eliminate the ‘what if’ factor in the calculation of FEES. In the case of the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE, BCS recommends that the Client carry an additional contingency amount for FEES (maybe 10% to 20% pending the project) that might be required if additional work is actually required.

If the additional work is not required, then the contingency money stays in the pockets of the Client, and BCS is not paid a bunch of money for work we did not do. In this case the Client carries the RISK for the Consultants SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES.

BCS finds the ESTIMATED TARGET FEE to be the fairest to both parties for certain renovation and certain envelope repair work, and in most case saves the Client money.

In our ESTIMATED TARGET FEE we break down how many hours, mileage, travel cost, accommodation, meals, etc. have been estimated and total it up with applicable taxes.

So, ask how the Consultant’s FEE for SCOPE OF REQUIRED SERVICES works and breaks down?

8) Ask about the actual proposed Fee amount ?

 What does the fee cover? Are there any hidden additional fees to be incurred? Does it include all applicable taxes?

 Keep in mind that, the lowest price is not always going to buy you the best Consultant. This is something that you as a Client have to have a good feeling for and make your own judgement.

9) Does the Consultant carry General Liability Insurance ?

BSC carries $2M General Liability Insurance, confirmation can be provided.

Ask for a copy.

10) Does the Consultant carry Errors and Omissions Insurance ?

BSC carries Errors and Omissions Insurance, confirmation can be provided.

Ask for a copy?

11) Does the Consultant’s Errors and Omissions insurance cover them for Ingress Water?

If you are involving a Building Envelope Consultant for your repair, you have likely experienced ingress water issues and are seeking repairs. Ensure the consultant that you engage carries Ingress Water coverage.

BCS is covered for Ingress Water, confirmation can be provided.

Ask for confirmation?

12) Ask what the preferred terms of payment are ?

BCS invoices monthly as the progress continues. Invoices are due for payment upon receipt. Interest may be charged after 30 days, pending the conditions.

13) Ask if there are any limitations of liability?

This is totally a project-to-project basis and BCS would have to review a project’s scope to be able to address if there would be any limitations of liability. BCS does have a terms and conditions addressed within our engagement contracts.

14) Ask for a copy of the Consultant’s Terms and Conditions within their engagement contracts?

Read through the Terms and Conditions and see if there is anything in there that you are not in agreement with.

Here is a link from BC Housing that will download a document with a good explanation of What a Building Envelope Consultant Does