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

August 2010
Estimating software is a very powerful tool, but it is not just a database of items and assemblies that allows you to enter your takeoff faster. In fact, takeoff entry is probably the slowest feature. The real beauty of today’s estimating software is how fast you can run detailed extension reports, which will tell you everything you really need to know about the project. READ MORE
July 2010
There’s some really positive energy brewing in the construction industry, and I’m seeing a lot of good bid opportunities throughout the country. Though this is typical of the summer bid season, I’m hoping it’s not just a seasonal fad and is more a solid indicator the construction industry is springing back to life. READ MORE
June 2010
Last month, I discussed how, when and why you should write a request for information (RFI). Of course, this is only half the battle. As the waiting begins to see if (and how) your RFI(s) will be answered, the real challenge will be setting up your estimate to accommodate the potential response … that is, if you actually get one. READ MORE
May 2010
Electrical estimators are often placed in an almost impossible position. We are given raw schematics of large, complex buildings from which we are expected to estimate the cost of the many intricate electrical and signal installations they contain. Our estimates have to be right, for if we estimate too much, we will most likely lose the bid. If we estimate too little, we might win the bid. READ MORE
April 2010
With any project you estimate, everything you count or don’t count is relative to the project’s costs and how much profit your company will make. Calling a project “residential” doesn’t guarantee you will make money. Therefore, do not approach residential jobs casually. READ MORE
March 2010
The estimation of a residential project should never be taken casually because they can be just as complex and design-intensive as any commercial one. So don’t just assume you are simply taking off another “rope job.” READ MORE
February 2010
There are different types of lighting retrofit projects: fixture replacement, relocation, repair, ballast retrofit, clean and relamp only, and various other fixture-related tasks; some projects may not even involve working with existing lumminaires. READ MORE
January 2010
It looks like 2010 might just be the jump start we have all been waiting for; per McGraw-Hill Construction’s “Outlook 2010 Executive Conference” industry analysts are forecasting an 11 percent increase in overall U.S. construction starts, mostly in housing and public works projects. This is good news. Let’s just hope their estimates are solid. READ MORE
December 2009
Today’s lighting control systems (LCS) are more elaborate and high-tech than ever. The once-simple systems consisting of a few low-voltage switches, a small lighting control panel (LCP) and a time clock now involve special ballasts and relays, motion and daylight sensors, photocells, dimmers, scene controllers, and more than one panel. READ MORE