Introduction to Electrical Construction Estimating

This past week, I gave a lunch and learn seminar to my co-workers on the topic of Introduction to Electrical Construction Estimating. An overview of the lunch and learn is as follows:

The Engineer Opinion of Probable Construction Cost (EOPCC)

The Louisiana bid law (RS 38:2212) defines probable construction cost as the estimate for the cost of the project as designed that is determined by the public entity or the designer. Louisiana bid law also requires every public entity to estimate or obtain an estimate from the project designer prior to advertising for bids. Additionally, the law requires all public entities to have adequate funding that meets or exceeds the estimate of probable construction costs before advertising the project for bids.

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the documents

More specifically, the person doing the estimate should examine all of the construction documents for anything and everything that can impact the estimate. Some examples include what’s existing vs non-existing, special equipment, safety requirements, etc. Be certain to log all questions.

Step 2: Compile a Construction Takeoff

A construction takeoff is a list of all materials and tasks required to complete a project. At this step, the estimator will want to focus on logging all work tasks, materials, and equipment required to complete the project. Be certain to log all assumptions. Highlighters and colored pencils are valuable tools in marking the items as you count.

Step 3: Applying the numbers

Applying the numbers involves researching prices for materials, labor, and equipment. There are many different avenues for figuring out the going rates for these items. Making an assumption on a price typically better than leaving a price blank. Be certain to document the origins of the numbers.

Step 4: Reporting the Results & Assumptions

Reporting the results involves consolidating data from the worksheet into a summarized report. Remember to list all assumptions made.

Additional Considerations

Remember the following:

  • The estimated price doesn’t always equal the bidding price. There are multiple unseen variables that can affect the bidding price a company offers compared to the numbers they calculate the job will cost.
  • Never assume estimating software will teach you how to estimate. In fact, it’s easy to get burned by software if you’re not completely aware of all the behind the scenes computations the software is making.
  • Try not to feel overwhelmed by any project. Continue to break each task down into smaller “biddable” pieces until the entire project can be accurately estimated.

Overall, I’m anticipating more lunch and learn seminars in 2016.