As was pointed out in last month’s column, when an electrical contractor expands to a new area of work such as school construction, a new set of parameters enters the estimating picture. Perusal of the specifications becomes a lesson in caution.
June in Southern California means that the weather is usually cloudy most mornings; residents have come to call the period “June gloom.” This summer’s industry publications brought a different kind of gloom to estimators, no matter what the geography.
One factor in learning a new occupation or system is mastering the language being used, or at least the basic meanings of words. Word confusion affects every industry. Take the computer instruction to hit any key.
Summer is here, bringing plenty of distractions. Don’t get sidetracked, as this is the time to consider added training if you are an estimator. The hectic pace of change in our industry is virtually predictable.
Growing numbers of electrical contractors are trying out new technology to increase their efficiency—some products with more success than others. But the CAD (computer-aided design) system has become a staple that contractors cannot ignore.
A good schedule saves time and money The site for a new, multibuilding high school project was on a hillside requiring massive grading and rock removal. The buildings were of wood and steel construction and housed six classrooms each.
The last line of the estimate is the most complex Picture this: The estimate is complete, including all direct and indirect costs, and overhead and net profit have been calculated as well. Any applicable additional taxes have been added to the bid.
Contractors’ feedback in the preparation of NECA’s Financial Performance Report (Index #1055) indicates that project costs divide among three major divisions. In general, the job costs will generally consume about 60 percent by way of material and labor costs.
Once upon a time, as fairy tales go, designing engineers produced workable electrical plans with very few errors. Of course that was when the average electrical project amounted to a mere 5 percent of a project’s overall costs.
Like many a novice, overworked contractor, I once found myself spread out on the dining room table making a takeoff when my teenage daughter asked if she could help. My first inclination was absolutely negative, but then I figured she could count symbols too.
In the past, the headline on this column would have turned off most estimators from reading further. They would have claimed this as part of the controller’s job. The facts of life, though, are that reviewing estimates before they become a binding bid is a relatively painless and simple procedure.
Most of what project estimators work on resembles what they will be working on in the next six to nine months. But what of those longer-term projects? How can labor and material predictions be sufficiently accurate to cover such periods and ensure that the project will benefit the contractor?
Most contractors fail to assert their rights on projects when added costs are incurred. Instead of commencing the change order process, most contractors hope to reach an amiable agreement after the job is completed.
Recent events require some further precautions to be taken when preparing an estimate. Safety has always been a concern that contractors have had to cover as far as a cost basis, productivity and worker morale.