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 2013
Bid listing is a method used in some areas of the country to prevent shopping after the fact. The concept is quite simple. Each general contractor must submit, with the bid, a list of subcontractors he or she intends to use if he or she wins the contract, along with the price for each subcontractor. READ MORE
April 2013
When I started to write this article, it came out as a rant, which seemed unprofessional. Assuming I should be professional, I pared the rant down to a summary of the way I feel about the current state of engineering practices. While preparing a free estimate, we estimators have to review the engineers’ work (for which they are being paid), make corrections and finish the engineering. READ MORE
March 2013
“How many jobs are you going to win for me?” I have heard that question at every interview I ever had for an estimating position. As an independent estimator, I still hear it. The answer is none, at least not by myself. Estimators need to be enabled, as they are only one part of a group. The group can include co-workers, vendors, manufacturers, general contractors and project owners. READ MORE
February 2013
There is a debate going on in this country that few people know about. It has to do with a difference in estimating methods between the Eastern and Western United States. Generally, and I stress generally, the West measures branch (meaning conduit and wiring), and the East averages it. READ MORE
January 2013
It used to be easy to labor fixtures. I learned a lot about lamps and fixtures in the ’70s and memorized all the standard labor units 30 years ago. For a long time, nothing changed. Apply the standard labor unit, throw in the appropriate factors, and you’re done. Life was easy. Then, changes started creeping in. READ MORE
December 2012
While researching for last month’s article, I was quite surprised to find many contractors and estimators who did not understand the basic concepts of paperless estimating. Some of the confusion seemed to stem from vendor demonstrations that concentrated on their software’s autocount feature, at the expense of explaining the basic features and operations. READ MORE
November 2012
You know that brief euphoria you get when the takeoff is complete? You sit back, take a deep breath, and then the bubble bursts. You realize you still have to manually input the takeoff into your estimating system.In the past, the Estimating column touched on the direct takeoff feature, but there is more to know. READ MORE
October 2012
An electrical estimator has to deal with a lot of people, including general contractors, engineers and architects. Many estimators interact with vendors. How they treat those vendors can make a world of difference. READ MORE