Stephen Carr

Estimating Columnist

Stephen Carr has been in the electrical construction business since 1971. 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 2017
I recently read an article regarding excellence versus perfection. It hit the nail square on the head regarding my estimating philosophy, which I developed mostly because of the stark contrast between my first two estimating jobs.
April 2017
Last month, we discussed the direct costs associated with a change order: labor, material, equipment and other miscellaneous costs directly related to the change order. Now, it’s time to look at your indirect costs, starting with overhead.
March 2017
Last month, I wrote about basic considerations for processing change orders. Now, it’s time to dig into the details. Let’s start from the beginning.
 The contract
February 2017
Change orders—we love them, and we hate them. Preparing a change order used to be enjoyable. The drawings were clear, the changes were clouded and we were allowed to make a profit. All we submitted was a lump-sum proposal, which was rarely questioned and never outright rejected. Unfortunately, the good times did not last long. READ MORE
January 2017
I perform many takeoffs for industrial projects. One of the significant differences between commercial and industrial work is the feeders, which can account for more than 80 percent of the time needed to complete the takeoff. In particular, water and wastewater projects can have exceedingly complex feeder layouts. READ MORE
December 2016
I was recently reminded how important it is to be creative in today’s competitive bidding climate. One of my longtime clients called to let me know that the high-voltage switchgear at One Exchange Place in Jersey City, N.J., had finally been powered up. The road to this accomplishment had been long, with several detours.
November 2016
For branch takeoff, measuring all of those little lines can really be a pain in the neck. It’s time-consuming and mind-numbing, especially on large projects. What a drag. Sometimes I’d rather be cleaning toilets. If you haven’t already guessed, measuring branch is my least favorite part of performing a takeoff.
  • The old days

October 2016
You just spent a lot of time taking off a set of drawings and more time entering the takeoff into your estimating system. Now you can relax, wait for the quotes to come in, send your final price to the general contractors and win the job. Right? I don’t think so. Bidding is more competitive now than it has ever been in my career. It’s the time to fine-tune your estimates.
 The old days
September 2016
Some specifications are to be taken seriously. Here is one example: “It is the electrical contractor’s (EC’s) responsibility to examine the facility thoroughly for any conditions that may affect its bid. Failure to do so will not relieve the contractor’s responsibility to provide a complete and operable project.”