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.
The estimation of a residential project should never be taken casually because they can be just as complex and design-intensive as any commercial one. So don’t just assume you are simply taking off another “rope job.”
There are different types of lighting retrofit projects: fixture replacement, relocation, repair, ballast retrofit, clean and relamp only, and various other fixture-related tasks; some projects may not even involve working with existing lumminaires.
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.
McCormick Systems, Chandler, Arizona, recently presented a check for $100,000 to ELECTRI International—The Foundation for Electrical Construction. “We have been involved with ELECTRI International for many years.
The competitive bid market always has been a brutal arena, even during the best of times. Winning a contract takes more than having a tight estimate or the best lighting fixture quote. Even having the lowest price won’t ensure you get listed by the general contractors.
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.
My role as an estimator has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Much of my time these days is spent estimating the estimates, trying to assess how long it will take my staff members to complete them.
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.
When trying to determine where they might lose labor on a project, why would an electrical estimator focus on the switchgear and electrical rooms? Can there really be much to worry about? These rooms pale in comparison to the rest of the project, right?
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