Don’s “7” Important Habits for Electrical Estimators to Follow

An individual may have good or bad habits. An estimator should work at replacing bad
habits with good ones.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition of habit is as follows: a
behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in
regularity or increased facility of performance.
The following seven habits will provide an estimator with a solid foundation for producing
quality estimates.
Know the Scope of Work: Carefully review RFQ or RFP.; Review Summary of Work
spec section; Know the project’s schedule and phasing.
Understand the building’s construction: Attend pre-bid meeting; Visit site; Structure type;
Wall types; Ceiling heights.
Carefully review the specifications: Review the front end – Division; Review Divisions
26,27,28; Look for labor items not indicated on drawings; Look for allowances in ALL spec
sections; Determine wiring methods.
Accuracy in Takeoff: Estimating is not “Guestamating.”; Design the installation; Use
materials as per spec and AHJ; Read all general notes and specific drawing notes; Highlight each
item and note when taken off.
Ask questions: RFI any item/area that is not clear; Asking questions is not a sign of
weakness, but strength; No one knows it all – no one!
Quantify, then Summarize the Bid: Complete the quantification process first; Then
summarize the bid; Trying to both at the same time leads to mistakes.
Focus on what matters: Analyze system(s) with largest labor percentages; Analyze labor
categories with largest labor percentages; Check pricing for items that comprise the largest
percentage of the material costs; Review material, quotes, direct labor, subcontracts, and
equipment costs by percentage of the total estimate value. Make adjustments to cover risks.
Developing good habits is the foundation for producing consistent and accurate estimates.
Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, but quality estimating is
Don Kiper – 905-941-1611.

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