Stephen Carr

Estimating Columnist

Stephen Carr has been in the electrical construction business 41 years. He started Carr Consulting Services—which provides electrical estimating and educational services—in 1994. Contact him at 805.523.1575 or

Articles by Stephen Carr

May 2015
Whether they know it or not, most estimators are in the marketing business. Every time they speak to someone, they influence that person’s feelings about them and the company they work for. If estimators are rude to vendors, they may not get the best pricing. If they snap at a general contractor, they may not get the contract. READ MORE
April 2015
Before I get started, I want to let you know that the following is based on my experience with three software packages. While the basic concepts are the same for most software in this category, the specifics of how they work may be different.
March 2015
As estimators, we are sometimes called on to create and maintain schedules. Many of us actually hold the position of estimator/project manager, so we are wholly responsible for scheduling our own projects.
February 2015
While preparing estimates, the methods and rules that estimators follow depend on several factors, including training, experience, the type of project and company culture. In some instances, estimating practices may not mesh well with project management requirements. One of the most common discussions I have had with project managers is in regard to the level of detail in an estimate.
January 2015
I have been fortunate during my career to hold the positions of estimator and project manager, both separately and at the same time. This experience has given me perspective from both sides. Unfortunately, things were not always as harmonious as they should have been. As an estimator, I had to deal with project managers. As a project manager, I had to deal with estimators. READ MORE
December 2014
Last month we talked about why bid listing laws are a good thing. In summary, general contractors use bid shopping to take profit from the subcontractors and keep those profits for themselves. Bid listing laws are a very effective way of stopping post-award bid shopping. 
November 2014
There is a lot of discussion about bid shopping in several of the forums I participate in, so I thought this would be good time to revisit the subject and bring things up to date. I learned very early in my career that having the low number at bid time did not guarantee you a contract. 
October 2014
We had to buy a new car recently. My wife’s car was 16 years old, and keeping it running was costing us almost as much as an entire car payment. It was definitely time to say goodbye, which created another problem—shopping for a new car. 
September 2014
The company I worked at while being trained as an electrical estimator already had an estimating system: a mainframe computer system called Estimatic. We had to convert each takeoff item and assembly into a 10-digit code. We entered the codes and quantities into a teletype machine. (For those of you not blessed with the wisdom of age—yes, that means I’m old—note the sample image shown here).