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How to Learn Electrical Estimating

In the realm of electrical contracting, winning projects and sustaining your business hinges on effective estimation and competitive bidding.

How to Estimate Electrical More Accurately & Easily

Consider investing in electrical estimating software for on-screen takeoff, estimating, and quoting. Such software streamlines the process, reduces human error, and significantly speeds up the estimation timeline. Users often experience a 2-3x increase in speed compared to manual methods.

Effective electrical estimating is a time-intensive process, and leveraging technology can enhance accuracy and efficiency in the highly competitive field of electrical contracting.

Here’s a proven electrical estimating system to guide you through the process:

1. Bid the Right Jobs: Choose projects aligned with your experience to avoid errors that could impact profit margins. New types of work without historical data pose a learning curve and potential pitfalls during execution.

2. Review the Specs: Thoroughly examine specifications, including Division 01 general specifications and Division 26. Pay attention to qualifications, payment terms, bonding, and insurance requirements. Highlight any deviations from the norm, ensuring clarity on material grades and responsibilities.

3. Review the Drawings: Study architectural and electrical drawings for a comprehensive understanding of the project scope. Note working heights, elevations, and technical details. Identify any discrepancies between drawings and specifications.

4. Perform a Quantity Takeoff: Use highlighting and scaling tools to count and measure items like light fixtures, receptacles, conduit runs, panels, and gear in the electrical drawings. Systematically total quantities, ensuring accuracy. Consider responsibilities for HVAC hookups or low voltage.

5. Get Current Supplier Pricing: Begin with lighting counts to expedite the quoting process. Establish relationships with local lighting firms for competitive pricing. Note fixture designations for quoting.

6. Create Your Estimate: Determine unit costs for each item by obtaining material costs from suppliers and estimating labor costs based on past production history. Summarize material and labor costs, accounting for any other direct costs. This forms the basis for your estimate.

7. Add Overhead & Profit: Calculate overhead, including indirect expenses necessary to run your business. Add both profit and overhead as percentages to the project costs to determine the sales price.

8. Build Your Proposal: Craft a proposal using language consistent with project specifications and drawings. Provide a lump sum bid for clarity on what is included or excluded. Clearly communicate any alternates or deviations.

9. Double-Check Takeoff Quantities & Estimate: Have a second set of eyes review your work to ensure accuracy. Maintain a bid log for reference and compare against previous projects to identify variances.

10. Submit the Bid: Submit bids electronically, adhering to bid instructions outlined in Division 01 specifications. Follow the submission process meticulously.

11. Review the Results: After bids are submitted, patiently gauge your standing among competitors. Seek feedback from General Contractors on lost projects to identify areas for improvement. Request bid tabs for insight into competitors’ numbers.

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