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

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.”
August 2016
Last month, I went over a brief history of California’s Title 24, Part 6, the current rules and what’s coming up. This month, let’s get more detailed about some of the current rules. In a nutshell, the rules are designed to reduce energy use in unoccupied areas, including offices, corridors, stairwells, library stacks, parking garages and other intermittently occupied areas. READ MORE
July 2016
California has long been known as an energy-conservation pioneer. To lead the way on electrical issues, the state uses a set of rules known as Title 24, Part 6, which is updated every three years. The current rules became mandatory for any project seeking a permit after July 1, 2014.
 Where it was
  • Playing with the big boys

June 2016
My first exposure to material pricing was in the mid-1970s when I was promoted to pricing clerk/assistant-purchasing agent at a wholesale house. My new desk was dominated by a 4-foot wide, metal-framed collection of pages called the Biddle Book, which was furnished by Trade Service Publications. The prices were updated weekly with new pages in a packet from Trade Service. READ MORE
May 2016
The other day, I saw an online discussion about using the labor units that come with computer estimating systems. The question was whether you should use the labor units as is. The simple answer is “maybe.” The complex answer is also “maybe.”
April 2016
For as long as I have been in this industry, material substitutions have been a way to save money on projects. The process eventually became known as “value engineering.” Theoretically, the contractor, and maybe the owner, saves money by replacing a specified product with a less costly one. We usually look at lighting fixtures first. In the past, it was fairly easy to do. READ MORE
March 2016
Last month, I started a conversation about millennials. As a group, they are very important. According to Pew Research, millennials already represent the largest portion of today’s available workforce and will overtake baby boomers later this year as the largest generational population group in the United States.
February 2016
When I decided to write an article about the difficulties contractors are having hiring good people, I had no idea what I was getting into. Once again, I had picked a subject with passionate people on both sides of the table. In this case, the millennial generation was on one side; older employers were on the other.
January 2016
For several years, I have been seeing a new hole in the theoretically 100-percent-complete electrical drawings we are provided for bidding. Within the last year, the problem has gotten bigger, driven by increasingly strict energy-usage requirements. The problem is light-emitting diode (LED) controls and dimming. Many engineers are simply not addressing the issue. READ MORE