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RJ_4 Member Posts: 484
I retired 2 yrs ago after a long hvac career, I was considering starting a buisness consulting on HVAC systems, I would specialize on older bldgs up to 12 floors with old pneumatic controls, old steam and hydronic systems and chillers, I did this the last 5 yrs of working.   Any thoughts, do's or dont's would be appreciated


  • Henry
    Henry Member Posts: 996

    Make sure that you get insurance and that you charge as much as an engineer! I usually charge even more than an engineering consulting firm. I have one rate for consultations and another rate if there is litigation and a court date. You charge for mileage, photocopies, everything.
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484

    Thanks Henry    what type of insurance would one want to carry, the same as a contractor ?     maybe we can talk further.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,526
    Insurance, and other issues

    As Henry says, you will need insurance.  For professional engineers it's called "Errors and Omissions" and the objective of the exercise is to pay your legal fees -- and damages, if any -- if someone sues you as a result of your advice to them.  And trust me, someone will.  Guaranteed.  I could give you a ballpark on what it costs for a registered PE; I haven't a clue what it would cost for an unregistered adviser/consultant.

    You should also incorporate yourself as, at the very least, a limited liability company.  The rules and costs for doing this vary by state; the state in which I live has fairly easy rules -- but astronomical taxes.  This will help protect your families assets when you are sued -- which you will be.

    In fact, if it is practical for you, transfer everything (and I do mean everything -- house, cars, hi-fi, beer cooler -- the whole catastrophe) to your wife or you kids or whomever.

    When you do go out on a job, keep meticulous records.  Every conversation (including 'phone conversations at home or the office) -- who, when, where you and the other party were, what was talked about.  (A caution on this, though -- if you are recording the conversation, rather than writing it down afterwards, tell the other party first!)  Time spent and a brief of what you were doing.  Where you went.  Photograph everything -- digital cameras are cheap.  There is no such thing as too many records -- and not on scraps of paper.  I recommend bound notebooks, with pre-numbered pages.

    Just a few thoughts...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484

    Thanks Jamie   great info.
  • Mark Eatherton
    Mark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,840
    edited May 2013
    Wise advice from Jamie...

    Heed it.

    One problem you will encounter, is that without having some sort of engineers license/degree, E&O insurance can be VERY expensive, but not nearly as expensive as losing EVERYTHING you've ever worked for...

    The interesting thing is, if you license/insure yourself as a regular "Service Contractor", and find yourself in a situation whereby you are just giving advice, should something go wrong, and as Jamie said, it WILL, your insurance company will not cover you due to the lack of an E&O policy.

    Something to bear in mind even for those people who ARE doing the actual contracting work.

    Been there, done that, and still waiting for the trial to happen...

    Leave it to an insurance company to figure out how NOT to pay a claim...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • RJ_4
    RJ_4 Member Posts: 484

    Thanks Mark
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