Follett -- What to Consider

Proposals for Probes and Such

What to Consider When Asking David and Ken for Probe Proposals


David and Ken work as a team, as equal business partners. When putting a proposal together you talk with Ken. When working in the field you talk with David.

David is the interface to the design team in the field. David handles the physical in-field work activity. David is the one who decides, in coordination with the design team, what gets done where. David is the one who seeks out to reveal the information that is being looked for. Ken’s role in the field is to provide support to David’s activities. Ken does what David tells him to do. Ken Is also responsible to watch what is going on and manage the surrounding environment.

Ken is the interface in the proposal and estimate phase of the project, and in the billing. If reports are required, then Ken does the reports. Paperwork as well as marketing and rain making. With a few projects Ken is the tinkerer in the background of the field or alone in the shop. On others Ken is the project manager or the consultant. When estimates are to be assembled then Ken confers with David.


We charge by the day. We do not charge by the hour. We do not charge by the probe. Again, we charge by the day.

We estimate based on a day rate plus our travel expense. We charge for mileage, tolls, fuel and vehicle use as we are required to use the truck to provide tools, materials and equipment to the site.

We multiply the number of days that we will be required to be active on the site, times the day/travel rate, and we add in for off-site demobilization/remobilization.

Based on what we are told will be required in the way of tools and equipment, we need to assemble the truckload, and at the end of the gig we need to put the tools and equipment back into storage. The amount we must charge for mobilization/demobilization is unique to the requirements of each project and is dependent on the nature of the investigation. For instance, if we are not digging holes in the ground, then we do not bring digging tools. Otherwise, we have an assembled “probe” kit, and usually, little time is required to get the kit onto the truck.

It works best if the design team provides a clear idea of how many days they need and list any items that would trigger an additional cost.

Additional costs would be such as:

• Intended Process Flow

• Generator, Lights

• Tall Ladders

• Scaffold

• Cores

• Materials Extractions

• Delivery of Extracted Samples to Testing Labs

• Digging of Holes in the Ground

• Rental Equipment

• Drainpipes

• Police/Security

• Permits

• Portable Toilets

• Site Time Restrictions

• Lift

• Non-Destructive Testing

• Reports

We charge for the time it takes to do an estimate and assemble a proposal, and the more difficult it is for us to figure out what is wanted in the way of support services, the more time we will charge for planning.

If we must read through paperwork to get an idea on our own as to what may be needed by the design team, then we will include the time in our estimate. In other words, please don’t make us have to work to figure out what you need.

There are sometimes costs based on the specific requirements of the site. Often, we will receive photos that show close-up areas of work (probe here) but that do not reveal the wider environment. A large factor in any site investigation is what is needed to get to the location of the work. If we need to climb over a fence, climb through windows, or remove brush to access the building it helps us to know this ahead. If we need to visit the site then we include that time into our estimate.

If we are required to attend pre-mobilization planning meetings at the site, then we will include the cost in our estimate.

Intended Process Flow

There are two flow paths for probe work. When we make our estimate we need to know which path is intended to be followed.

The design team usually does not internalize what is needed to get the whole gig off the site in a manner that does not disturb the end client. For example, the design team considers that they need one day for opening of probes. Once on site, the various members of the design team may ask for more probes than originally contemplated, and suddenly there are more probes open than can be finished up in the time allotted.

Flow Path One: The design team figures out what they want insofar as information is concerned ahead of time and works with us in a preliminary walk about to determine what probes are needed and how they will be accomplished.

We then go in and open the probes. The design team then schedules to observe the probes. We accompany the design team in their observation. We remain available if more probes are needed. We then follow up with closure of the probes, if needed, and proceed to demobilization.

What needs to be kept in mind is the time that will be required for the design team observation of the probes.

Flow Path Two: We and the design team mobilize on the same day. There is a rough idea ahead of time as to what sorts of probes, and what information may be needed. We have brought with us an assortment of tools. Usually there has been discussion ahead of the mobilization so that we have an idea what tools to bring.

The design team then remains engaged in the site investigation and provides ongoing direction to the probe activity. During this process we consider and calculate what will be needed in time and resources to close the probes. Then the design team usually disengages from the site activity and we proceed toward closure and demobilization.

Making it clear which of these two flow paths, or hybrids, will be followed will not only help to estimate the job, but it will also help us give optimal assistance to the design team.

Generator, Lights

We have a small generator that serves most of our needs. If you need a large generator, then we need to know ahead of time. If we list a generator on our proposal and you decide that a generator is not needed, there is no reduction in the cost of our proposal. The same goes if we say that we will provide lights, or extension cords or ladders.

Tall Ladders

We have tall ladders, but getting them to the site requires extra work on our part. We need to take commercial truck routes, for one thing, which means that our travel time is increased. We also need to get them on and off the truck, and they are quite heavy to move around.


We have a small quantity of scaffold, but in general if you need more than three frames (15’ high) we suggest that you contact a scaffold supplier. There are various regulations on scaffold and we prefer to not mess with them. Scaffold also requires that we use commercial truck routes.


For cores we need to know the diameter, the number of cores to be taken, and what the cores are for. If the cores are for materials testing, then the process is more involved than if the cores are solely for composition. In general, we assume that cores for testing are 4” diameter by 6” in length. If you need otherwise, you must let us know. We also need an idea as to what material is to be cored. Brick, brownstone, terra cotta and concrete are all different to core. We need to be able to match the core bit to the intended task. Core bits are expensive, they wear away, and we include their replacement cost in our estimates.

If we know how many cores are required, it gives us an idea of how much time will be required. But again; we do NOT charge by the core.

Cores done for composition in our experience are ones that do not require a 4” diameter, can be accomplished more quickly with a small diameter, and are cores that tend to get set out next to the work, looked at, then thrown away. It helps in our understanding and estimate ahead of time if we understand that this will be the expectation.

We do NOT scan for rebar. If you need a scan for rebar then you need to engage someone who has that sort of equipment and expertise.

Materials Extractions

It helps if we know whether steel coupons are to be taken; whether if probes into brickwork will require samples of brick and mortar for testing; or whether brickwork samples will be required in prisms. The tools used for various extractions are an expendable resource. For instance, if we know how many steel coupons are needed, then we can figure a cost for appropriate saw blades.

Delivery of Extracted Samples to Testing Labs

We also need to know if we are to deliver the extracted samples and cores to a testing lab. We do NOT provide materials testing services; we will deliver materials to a testing lab. If you want us to deliver, then when we do our estimate we need to know where the materials are to go. If the lab is on one of our normal travel routes we drop the materials off. If they require shipping, then we need to know ahead of time.

Rental Equipment

In some cases we may need to rent equipment other than a lift. This is another reason why we need as much information as possible during the estimate.


We have in the past rented equipment for the video recording of drain pipes. This sort of investigation in general is outside of our area of expertise and we require a member of the design team to be present during the work.


In a few states where we have worked it is required that local police be on site during the work. We do NOT provide for or arrange for the police.


We exclude permits. Various local jurisdictions have different requirements as to permits.

Portable Toilets

If we need to provide a portable toilet for the use of the design team, then we need to know during the estimate.

Site Time Restrictions

We need to know if there will be any specific restrictions as to the hours for the work.

If probes need to be done between 7 am and noon, then that shortens the length of a day. We do not charge less for a shorter day, and we do not charge by the hour.

Example – Governors Island: While the ferry operators prefer that trucks come over on the 7 am ferry, there is some flexibility, but it gets complicated in a hurry. The last ferry leaves at 6 pm. In general, we have been told to stop work at 5 pm. On some occasions we have been told to stop work earlier as the construction manager is required to have a staff person available on site while the design team was at work.


A lift is an added cost.

Figuring out what lift will be needed has several variables.

For a boom lift we need to know how high it must reach, how far the base of the lift will be from the façade, and if there are obstructions that would determine whether a straight or an articulated lift would be more appropriate. We also need to know where the lift will be needed and if the location will require a permit for operation.

Once the lift is at the site, it requires operation either by an operator and ground person, or in some instances alone with an operator only, with a ground person available as needed.

Lift arrangements do not always work out as planned, and weather can have an impact on the use of the lift. It is understood that the intent is to maximize the use of the lift by the design team. The schedule of the design team, and when they would be available for use of the lift, may not be in our control.

The desired duration for use of the lift determines how many days the lift is rented. Cost for the lift is per day or per week, plus delivery/pick-up, equipment insurance, fuel, etc.

General rule is that if a lift is required for more than two days it is less expensive to rent by the week (5 days).

If the desired duration for use is one (1) day, then the optimal rental may be for three (3) days: one day to get the equipment on site, one day for use, and one day to get the equipment off site. A three-day rental converted to a week rental gives some flexibility to the design team schedule and allows for bad weather and/or mishaps.

Example -- Governors Island: Getting the lift onto and off from the island takes up time. The ferry operators prefer that the lift be brought over on the 7 am ferry. It is important to avoid bringing trucks etc. over during the times that the high school students use the ferry. This means that we need to be in line to board the ferry by 6:30 am. What this also means is that our day starts much earlier than 6:30 am. We accommodate this need into our estimate.

Non-Destructive Testing

We work in coordination with professionals who provide non-destructive testing. We do NOT do non-destructive testing. Our coordination includes providing of site assistance, moving around of their equipment, access issues, and assisting with the testing process.

We provide ground truthing to non-destructive testing.

Example: Highbridge Water Tower: The non-destructive testing team required that their equipment be hoisted to the top of the tower, that we provide electric, ladders, and the space heated. In another location we drilled holes for them to use a borescope to confirm the information that they were receiving from their equipment.


We are not design professionals, we provide in-field assistance to structural engineers, architects and conservators in their investigation of historic structures. We do not provide reports as to the “results” of any field investigation.