Do Consultants Cost You Money?
Whatever consultant you want to talk about ó engineer, architect, accountant, you name it ó their number-one job should be to save you money. But consultants donít work for free, so how can they actually save money? Allow me to illustrate.
A client of mine, weíll call him Mister Eggplant, is building a large, lakefront home. His architect, Mrs. Radish, designed the most inefficient, expensive stained concrete deck imaginable. The elaborate structural system consisted of plywood, torch-down membrane, wood I-joists, beams, posts and footings. When it came to me for engineering, I immediately asked why we couldnít simply use a composite metal deck. There was no good answer, so that is precisely what I designed, saving Mister Eggplant thousands.
Now, I could have easily put on my blinders and analyzed the original deck. My fee would have been about the same either way. But, I am by nature a cheapskate, so I try to save money whenever I can. And I donít care whose money it is: mine, yours, Red Robinís (I constantly hound my kids to use only as many paper towels as they really need.)
Letís examine the bigger picture. What exactly is a consultant anyway? Isnít it someone with specialized knowledge or experience who performs tasks someone else doesnít have the time for? In general, most of us are smart enough to do most things in the construction industry if weíre given enough time to learn them. I donít view consultants as smarter than anyone else, theyíre just specialized in a particular area. Iím sure lots of builders could also be engineers or architects or accountants if they really wanted to. In fact, many would be superior at these occupations because they actually understand the real world ó where the rubber meets the road.