In the estimating process, quotations of specialized large-quantity lot, or project-specified materials will put the estimator in touch with the firm’s suppliers. Some contacts will also originate in the purchasing department.
A survey states that electrical contractors buy over 90 percent of electrical materials.Cooperation between these parties is required to get these materials to a project. Electrical contractors determine the type and brand of about half the materials purchased.
Unlike an electrical apprentice, who follows a finite curriculum and training termination, estimators have no such benchmarks. Instead, an estimator’s value is calculated from many points of interest, which places a burden on the estimator to continue training.
If your estimate has followed any organized standard, assembling the factors should be less confusing than it is to those starting from scratch. Investing minimal time earlier to organize the estimate can make the final price one that the estimator can support.
There’s a thin line between overhead and direct costs in project estimating. Further implications exist in those direct costs that relate directly to project coordination. Many factors cause price fluctuations on the same project depending on the expected efficiencies of administering the project.
When we began discussing overhead last month, we recognized that a number of variables affect the recovery of overhead expenses, and also that overhead expenses not only depend on contractor size, but also on operational efficiency.
When I first heard the expression “making the nut,” I wondered what it meant. Then, after watching a squirrel store nuts for winter consumption, I realized that this action depicted the operating costs also known as overhead.
Assuming the estimate is beginning to shape up and there is time to take a “second look” at the projected bid, a variety of methods can be used to verify the numbers.
The second check is used to ensure that the quantities priced, labored, extended, and totaled are accurate.
The job walk, which is completed prior to estimating in the bid process, is an item of considerable disagreement within the estimating community. Many regard it as an excuse to escape from the office; this attitude can lead to serious problems.
Opinions differ on whether it's worth the time during the estimating stage of a project to compile a detailed materials list.
If a job is estimated with the expectation of doing the work, then a rational materials list will save a second estimating process.
In a previous column, I discussed the transfer of symbol counts to the material listing sheets. Labor units are derived from the materials to be installed, so the complete listing of all nomenclature is critical. Using assembly units makes listing painless.
The first distinction an estimator must accept is that a labor unit is not absolute; it is a benchmark, or starting point. This statement may sound odd, but ask yourself, if three electrical contractors undertook the same job, would all three complete the job in the same time?
With this last article on paperless estimating, I want to touch on a few of the greater benefits and potential issues you may face. I’m hoping some of you have already purchased and are now using “in-screen” takeoff (IST) software, after reading parts one and two of this series.