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Hi Roger,

I recently had a telephone job interview with a small residential developer operating close to where I will be living after graduating school (next month woohoo!!!).  The position is in a privately-held company, ie no shareholders, with only 5 full-time staff to speak of--if I recall correctly, there's the president, the PM/architect, a bookkeeper, a site supervisor, another field person and the secretary. I'd be the sixth person Roger.  The company has sold over 500 homes since its inceptions and the president is also a trained/licensed civil engineer.  They are looking to hire a recent engineering grad to gradually take over/perform the function of quality-control and inspection with respect to the full civil engineering design packages they receive from the civil engineers and must submit to local government agencies for review/approval.  I was told, this role is currently being performed by the president but he wants more time to do other functions so they would like to hire an engineering grad to take over; does not require any design work, only inspecting, correcting and making suggestions to improving designs prior to submission to local agencies; basically, minimizing errors and minimizing the length of the approval process.  

Roger, as someone who wants to someday be a real-estate developer, what do you think of this job?

Also, one thing I'm don't fully get Roger is why are they not looking to hire a professional licensed engineer if that's the case? If they have sold 500 homes in the past, I'm pretty sure they could afford one right?  It would seem to make sense since they would have to train me anyway.  A licensed engineer would cost more than me but wouldn't it be worth it to the developer if it improves business?

Also, but of lessor importance, since the president is also a licensed engineer, if I took the job and did occasionally do any engineering work under/supervised by him, I could count it towards the 4 years experience that I need in order to get my own engineering license down the road. (The "P.Eng" designation wouldn't hurt, right?) But I doubt this job will allow me to design or do much engineering; it sounds like I will be doing a lot of quality control work!?!?

What do you think Roger? Is this job is worth taking?  If I don't take it, I could keep looking for work with other developers.  The pay for this job is about 10% more than what other grads in my class are getting offers for.

As always, thank you so much for volunteering Roger!  Great to see you are still on Allexperts :)!!!

Mike

Answer
Hi Michael,
I think you should try to find a position with a Civil Engineering firm.  You may not get to actually design at the beginning.  It's not unusual for a rookie employee to check the field and verify the work completed payment.  You will see how a site contractor works.  Being a developer/contractor can be a difficult road to take.  I began my career as an Architect.  I knew how a building is assembled but I had to learn how to coordinate trades and where to economize.  
I soon found that there was more profit in developing and land deals rather than construction.  For example:  a 40 acre site costs $60K.  Zoning allows 4 homes per acre.  That's 16 home lots.  Development costs approximately $25K per lot.  That's approx $40K per lot.  Sell the lots to a home builder or maybe three or four builders for $60K and you profit by $20K per lot or $320,000.00.  This can happen in one year.  
Building 16 homes with one start per month and a completion time of five months per house is 17 months.  If the homes sell for $300,000, the builder probably has a profit margin of 7% or $21,000 or $336,000.  The builder has a much larger staff and higher overhead.
All the Civi Engr I know either own a firm or are planning on having their own firm.

There is no firm rule or plan to follow.  I wish you all the success you hope for. I apologize for the delay in responding.  Last week was hectic.  I am working on a $30,000,000 project that is very close to closing.  It was difficult getting financing.

I hope this was hopeful.

Roger

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Roger Zona

Expertise

I am experienced in all types of construction: residential, industrial and commercial; single family, multi-family, mid-rise and high rise buildings (16 story office building) as well as remodeling, additions and tenant improvements. I can field most any question that relates to general construction. I have consulted with infrastructure (utility) contractors also and have a good general knowledge of underground utility construction for subdivisions and commercial projects.

Experience

After college, I began my career in the construction industry. I chose to become an apprentice Architect and 4 yrs later I opened my own architectural design firm. Six years later I moved to Florida to buy & develop land and build. I became a State of Florida Certified General Contractor and operated my business for 45 years. I built all types of residential and commercial buildings including warehouses, shopping centers, high rise apartments and office buildings and developed sites for other contractors. I retired and became a consultant to the construction industry. I maintain my license and continuing education requirements, operate a small construction company and write a weekly newspaper column for the Palm Beach Post (a Cox publication) with the byline "Ask The Contractor". I am the "technical editor" for a publisher of books that relate to home maintenance.

Organizations
Previously - NAHA Currently - FLCA (Florida Licensed Contractors Assoc.)

Publications
Palm Beach Post newspaper - weekly Q & A column Happy Herald monthly real estate publication - monthly column

Education/Credentials
Michigan State University University of Detroit BS in Engineering

Past/Present Clients
I built a home in Palm Beach for a member of the Pulitzer Family. I was responsible for the completion of a twin hi-rise condominium project for G.E. Credit. I was a partner in the successful development of a P.U.D. (Planned Urban Development) subdivision. I represented the largest home builder from France (Bati Service, S.A.) in the development of a subdivision and the design and construction of the homes.

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