You Get What You Pay For

Posted on October 26, 2018 by Ewen Dobbie

"You get way you pay for"

A thing that can be bought for a very low price probably isn’t very good. – Merriam Webster

I think it’s safe to say this analogy can apply to any product or any service, but it has never been more apparent when referring to steel detailing services.

In a marketplace where an increasing proliferation of foreign detailing companies continues to drive prices for steel detailing services to historic lows, we need to ask the questions: does low price mean better value? Should price be the predominant factor in selecting a detailer subcontractor?

To answer this question, consider the following:

  • What is the role of the steel detailer?
  • What are the ideal qualities and characteristics of a good detailer?
  • How much ‘real’ North American steel fabrication and erection experience is required to become a highly competent detailer?
  • What is the cost and impact of poor quality steel detailing?

If you are reading this blog you are likely a fabricator who knows the answers to most of these questions, but we offer the following comments from a detailer’s perspective:

While Wikipedia defines a Steel Detailer as a person who produces detailed drawings for steel fabricators and steel erectors, Dowco suggests that detailers do far more than simply generate shop drawings and erection diagrams. Detailing is not just CAD Jockeys building 3D Tekla models and generating drawings as quickly as possible. Steel detailing is a service. Good detailing companies have decades of experience working in the North American steel construction industry, and are technology and process fanatics. The really great detailing companies also take responsibility and are prideful in their work.

Now to the matter of the cost impact of poor quality steel detailing?

It is not uncommon to hear stories from fabricators who opted for the lowest detailing price only to have paid ten times more than the detailing contract value in re-work. In most of these cases the damage to their reputation was even greater.

Does it really pay to go with cheap detailing?

To learn more about Dowco and its nearly five decades in the steel detailing business, please visit or email

Dowco Group - Ewen Dobbie

Business Strategist, Owner, President, CEO, Director, for technology companies serving the design & construction industry.

Dowco Group of Companies