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Tips to Controling Costs in Electrical Contracting Projects

June 16, 2021
  1. Get an accurate estimate with a defined scope up front—and insist your contractor stick to the plan. The electrical contractor you choose should also work to understand your objectives for the project in terms of a full scope review. There should never be surprises in any capital project, and the preconstruction process is the ideal time to prevent them before they occur. As a GC or owner, this greatly reduces your risk. At Charter Estimating, we utilize sophisticated software to deliver estimates that are detailed down to the last screw. Too many electrical contracting firms don’t utilize such technology. Our estimating software represents a substantial up-front and ongoing investment of time and money, but it allows us to generate extremely accurate quotes quickly, and with no surprises.
  2. Make sure the electrical contractor details the plan of attack. Capital projects are unique, and while construction approaches and techniques may be similar from project to project, the electrical contractor you select should provide detailed plans and timelines for their scope. Ideally, their wheels should be turning in their heads during your initial discussion as they mentally assemble their game plan. If they seem disengaged, hurried or dismissive, count those as warning signs.
  3. Be wary of unusually low estimates. The bid an electrical contractor delivers should be an honest and competitive price. Too often, we hear of contractors low-balling bids, only to make up the difference – and then some – with change orders. The change order price hikes are bad enough, but change orders eat up valuable time as well, and that will eat away at your profit margin even more. Finally, when it comes to low estimates, the old maxim, “you get what you pay for,” often applies. If the electrical contractor isn’t charging an honest and fair price, who’s to say the electrical installation will be completed to the highest industry standards?
  4. Consider prefabrication when appropriate. Many clients request that Electrical Contractors assemble their electrical material in advance at an offsite location, before it’s installed at the job site. This process, widely known as prefabrication, lowers labor costs and allows for better quality control of electrical equipment assembly. Studies show a work area designed for prefabrication allows for electrical material assembly at a fraction of the cost compared to assembly on the job site. With prefabrication, the on-site construction footprint is kept to a minimum, as there is less room required for assembly of electrical equipment and less labor in the client’s facility. Additionally, work sites remain clean due to less garbage/scrap material, which improves safety on the job site and minimizes the risk of accidents.
  5. Stay on schedule—and communicate effectively throughout the project chain to make that happen. Your electrical contractor must stay on schedule; if they don’t, that delay causes delays all down the line. In this regard, it’s essential that communication lines are always open among electrical contractors, GCs and other trades; this will help you stay on schedule, and by extension, on budget. Finally, if your electrical contractor lags behind – or if another trade is holding things up – it’s crucial to document everything in writing.
  6. Utilize a skilled workforce. With high turnover comes many problems. The electrical contractor you select should employ professionals with deep experience. Hiring someone with many years of experience translates to experienced and committed professionals working together to keep your project on time and on budget.
  7. Stay safe. On-site safety has many benefits, including the obvious one of keeping people out of harm’s way. Yet, safety is also an essential part of maintaining profitability on a project. So, what makes it so critical?
  • Unsafe practices lead to job site accidents. Besides the obvious personal toll of any injury, job-related injuries can lead to workers’ compensation (WC) claims, and possibly lawsuits.
  • Time delays. When a worker is injured on a job site, the location of that injury immediately becomes an accident site. Often, it is cordoned off, pending investigations by OSHA and other authorities. This renders that spot inaccessible to workers, which often results in substantial delays. It’s also worth noting that an injured worker who leaves the site is one less worker to keep your project on time.
  • Cost overruns. When you figure in potential costs associated with WC claims, legal fees, higher insurance premiums, delay penalties and more, it’s easy to see that costs associated with any job site injury can add up quickly.

Electrical Contractors for your next project you must maintain an established and comprehensive safety program that ensures workers are properly trained in all elements of safe work practices. This helps to mitigate job site accidents and keep project schedules and budgets on track. Anything less is unacceptable.