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

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
December 2015
While researching last month’s column, I realized integrated project delivery (IPD) deserved an entire article to itself. Traditional delivery methods, in particular design/bid/build (DBB), often devolve into antagonistic relationships among the owner, designer, general contractor and subcontractors. The continuing decline in construction-document quality adds more fuel to the fire. READ MORE
November 2015
If you’ve ever seen Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” skit, you probably understand how many people feel about the evolution of project delivery methods. READ MORE
October 2015
An estimator’s primary job is to produce an accurate estimate. However, estimators may also bear the responsibility for protecting their employers and themselves from risk. It does not matter if you are a small, medium or large contractor. Someone has to assess and deal with the risk associated with signing a contract and performing the work.
September 2015
They’re here. The mavens of technology have arrived to tell us that, once again, we must move on to the next great thing. According to them, web-based software is the path to the future. The “cloud” is where we now must compute, write, schedule, calculate and present.
August 2015
Spreadsheet software is made for crunching numbers, but database programs are made for crunching data, and they do it better. Consider the following reasons why a database is a good platform for electrical estimating systems.
July 2015
I was recently following a forum discussion about issues related to using spreadsheet software for estimating. It turned into a spreadsheet–versus–database argument and got a little heated. The truth is both systems have a place in your estimating toolbox.
June 2015
Determining how much of the National Electrical Code (NEC) estimators should know depends on several factors, including how much they initially knew when they became estimators, the type of work they are bidding, who they are working for, the completeness of the bid documents, and their goals as estimators.
 A little history
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