Stan Shook

Stan Shook was ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR's estimating columnist from 2005 to 2012. He works as an electrical estimator in California. Read his blog at or contact him directly

Articles by Stan Shook

May 2011
I’m not a huge fan of estimating water treatment plants (WTPs). On one hand, they are typically refined, well-engineered and highly detailed. On the other hand, they are jigsaw puzzles of conduit schedules, details, notes and specification referrals, and they include vague descriptions of extremely expensive installations. They require an intense, uninterrupted focus to estimate. READ MORE
April 2011
Electrical contractors often ask me what I think the square-foot pricing (SFP) is for a job. They usually ask without giving any details or showing me any designs, so I just blurt out a crazy number and listen as they sharply respond, “What? That’s not right. That’s too high!” I always ask, “How do you know?” READ MORE
March 2011
With this last article on paperless estimating, I want to touch on a few of the greater benefits and potential issues you may face. I’m hoping some of you have already purchased and are now using “in-screen” takeoff (IST) software, after reading parts one and two of this series. READ MORE
February 2011
I hope last month’s column convinced you to purchase an in-screen computer takeoff application, and you are now on your way to becoming a paperless estimator. But having the program is only the first step. If you really want to become super-efficient and 100 percent paperless, you will also need to upgrade your monitor configuration. READ MORE
January 2011
I’ve waited to write about paperless estimating until now. I’ve been estimating with digital drawings and estimating software for many years, but I didn’t want to write this until I was 100 percent paperless and working entirely “in-screen,” as one software company calls it. READ MORE
December 2010
Years ago, I was assisting a client on a $60-plus million electrical bid. There were more than 35 electrical bid form items, each one with three or four subcontractor or vendor quotations. The mayhem this created can’t be described. My client was using his own special spreadsheet file, which had an individual sheet for each bid price. READ MORE
November 2010
As the construction industry is starting to breathe again, I’m getting calls from small contractors asking if I think they should hire a full-time estimator. It’s a great question, and I’m glad they are thinking ahead, but there is no simple answer. READ MORE
October 2010
Bid day is the most critical moment of your estimate. It is the time when you work with numbers and calculations, which can affect the entire job, not just the single installation. So when mistakes happen, they can be severe, and because bid day often includes stress and panic, they can easily be overlooked. In last month’s column, I wrote about estimating more than one job at the same time. READ MORE
September 2010
Although I never recommend it, estimators are often forced to work on more than one project at a time. This is especially true in today’s highly competitive and light-on-opportunities market. It is also very common with prebid estimates, which sometimes share the same bid date. READ MORE