Years ago, I was assisting a client on a $60-plus million electrical bid. There were more than 35 electrical bid form items, each one with three or four subcontractor or vendor quotations. The mayhem this created can’t be described.
Although I never recommend it, estimators are often forced to work on more than one project at a time. This is especially true in today’s highly competitive and light-on-opportunities market. It is also very common with prebid estimates, which sometimes share the same bid date.
Electrical estimators are often placed in an almost impossible position. We are given raw schematics of large, complex buildings from which we are expected to estimate the cost of the many intricate electrical and signal installations they contain.
With any project you estimate, everything you count or don’t count is relative to the project’s costs and how much profit your company will make. Calling a project “residential” doesn’t guarantee you will make money. Therefore, do not approach residential jobs casually.
It looks like 2010 might just be the jump start we have all been waiting for; per McGraw-Hill Construction’s “Outlook 2010 Executive Conference” industry analysts are forecasting an 11 percent increase in overall U.S. construction starts, mostly in housing and public works projects.
Are you still wondering if you should buy estimating software? I know this seems like a silly question, especially with it being 2009 and all, but I consistently hear about (and from) many electrical contractors who are still not using software.
An estimator recently asked how to tighten up his estimates without getting too far out of his comfort zone. His zone was 20-plus years experience and knowledge that told him exactly what jobs require; this was not helping him compete in our insanely aggressive and below-cost bidding environment.
I attended a lecture recently where the guest speaker gave a detailed overview on building Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects, and I learned a surprising thing: It’s not only about the green materials used for the construction, but also how things are built.
Two of my previous articles go well with this one. “Are Your Estimators Bored?” (March 2006) and “Never Stop Bidding Work” (March 2008). They both address this article’s topic: keeping estimators busy. So off you go to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s archives at www.ecmag.com.
I’m continually asked what I think estimators should be paid. It’s a complicated question. I think contractors should invest a lot of money on their estimating. However, as the owner of an outsource estimating firm, I may be a bit biased.
My team members and I recently estimated the most intensive lighting design we have ever seen: a major high-rise hotel in Las Vegas. Until you start one of these projects, you have no idea what intense lighting design entails.
The slowing economy may be challenging the construction industry, but technology vendors say they can help electrical contractors ride it out by making their work more efficient, allowing them to accomplish more estimates, spend less staff time looking for documents, and keep up with a world that i
F1, A, B, D3, W, EX, Y AND Z; MA1, MA2, #3 and, oh, let's see; how about “not designated?” Do these look familiar? We see hundreds of them every day, in every design, on every job. They are lighting fixture identification tags, sometimes called designations, types or markers.