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Enhance Estimation in Electrical Construction With These Tips

September 26, 2019

Electrical construction estimates are necessary in construction projects to avoid waste and make more accurate approximations. Without proper costing and estimation, the property owner will have a difficult time coming up with an accurate budget. Contractors, in particular, may not be in a position to determine the materials, requirements, and resources needed to complete a successful project.

what is the work of an estimator?

Estimators work for the design team of the construction project. They are tasked with creating a Rough Order of Magnitude (ROM), which describes the cost of the physical structure and other related expenses.

The electrical estimating process is primarily done to develop an accurate budget. Estimators are often not required to do any drafting or electrical work. However, most contractors understand that electrical estimation is critical to their business. If there are any errors in the costing estimate, it will be reflected on the bids they present to their clients. Such mistakes can result in loss of business and profits.

Why the electrical estimating process is required

Virtually all projects need an accurate electrical estimating process during the planning phase. In construction, subcontractors and trade contractors cannot bid on a project without it. They need to understand all estimates, overheads, and other related expenses before placing a bid.

In electrical construction, estimation is particularly important because there are many materials and parts that need to be ordered. These parts may include a wide range of electrical components that must be installed to function according to the technical specifications.

Therefore, electrical estimating can be complex and the projects may be prone to errors. For example, parts such as electrical wiring, network switches, and fuses have prices that may fluctuate throughout the year. If the contractors do not take this into account, it can result in significant errors in budgeting by the time the project commences.

what does electrical estimation entail?

The contractor's estimate eventually become the budget for the project. In order to make accurate estimations, certain factors must be considered. Estimators may tap into their experience to determine if the project is viable. It is not worth it to bid on a project without having the required experience.

These three important factors should be considered for every estimate:


Overheads are all the indirect expenses associated with the job. They include sales tax, phone bills, rent, accounting fee, etc. Understanding all the Overheads is a critical part of estimation that is sometimes forgotten or ignored. Some companies choose to do it as an estimate of the project cost. But it is advisable to have a good accountant who can break it down and capture the details.


These are the resources that are the core of the electrical construction project. Takeoffs are the items derived from plans and drawings that are used by the electrical contractors. Takeoffs can be determined manually, or with the help of specialized computer software. Estimators must capture all the items required for the project accurately. Otherwise, the contractor will need to request a change-order which will result in lost time.

labor costs

Lastly, an estimator also has to consider labor costs. The process she chooses to use will depend on the size of the organization. For small firms, previous experience on a similar project can suffice.

But for bigger organizations, estimating labor cost using past jobs often results in errors and significant deviations. Large firms instead use labor units to estimate the cost. Labor units describe the number of people needed to complete specific tasks such as installation of components.

how to enhance the estimation process

pay attention to overheads

Overheads include all the indirect expenses associated with the project. Part of the overhead may include sales tax, marketing cost, accounting fees, and many other items. For this reason, the overall cost may vary widely. But the estimator must ensure they include all the relevant details. Ignoring the project could cause delays and the contractor could lose money in the process.

construction cost codes

Construction cost codes are used to group costs based on their function. That means the companies that use these codes can track down items. The more cost codes a firm has, the greater its capacity to capture all the relevant items in detail. However, they can be complicated and may not always be effective. The codes should be reviewed from time to time, to determine if they are serving their purpose, or whether they need to be updated.

use previous projects as a guide

Previous projects that are similar to the current one can serve as a useful guide in pinpointing problem areas in the budget. By looking at projects done in the past, the estimator may find that material cost for this type of a project tends to exceed the estimates. Or it could be observed that at certain times of the year, prices fluctuate, causing errors in costing.

consider a mobile time tracking solution

Estimates can be done manually as they were in the past century. But today, construction projects are more complex with a wide range of specifications. It is critical that the estimator incorporates all the relevant historical data. A thorough review of the historical data can provide crucial insights into problem areas. A mobile tracking solution makes it easier to track construction cost codes and make more accurate estimates of labor costs.

choose the right work to bid

Bidding on a project where you have limited experience will most likely lead to errors. One of the things you need to consider is the skills of the workers. If they do not have the experience with the electrical components and equipment, the project will take longer and may be costlier. Estimators must therefore carefully consider whether the bid is the right fit.

Estimation is particularly critical for construction projects, since there are many technical specifications for materials and labor. In order to make accurate estimates, all the available data needs to be incorporated in the process.

Real-time project reports and historical data on previous projects can be useful in making the right estimates. The estimation can be done manually, but you should consider using a mobile time-tracking solution. With these tools, projects will take less time, costs will be cut, and contractors will be in a better position to make more profit for their businesses.