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How to Estimate Electrical Work

Knowing how to estimate electrical work so you do not short change yourself takes a little preparation. If you incorrectly estimate a job, it can either cost you the job or it can be more expensive to complete than it is worth.

To ensure you are properly estimating a job, take these steps and tips into consideration.


Estimating Overhead Costs

First, knowing your overhead costs is key to establishing a base figure for an estimate. What it costs to run your business, like rent and utilities for your shop, administrative personnel, insurance, and taxes, is essential information to know, so you can ensure those costs are considered when compiling an estimate.


When drawing up an estimate, review job specifications and note any issues that are not standard. Having a good overview of what the job entails, to include unique requirements, is necessary so as not to cause problems during the job or after it is completed. During this review, you can confirm whether the plans for the job are complete. For example, if there are items like HVAC mechanicals or smoke detectors that do not appear in your set of plans, you may want to look at the master plans to determine if anything has been overlooked that should be included in the final proposal.

Noting and researching specialty fixtures that are required will save time down the road if you are prepared to install them with no delays. Plans may call for items like dimmers, timers, or photovoltaic panels that you may not be familiar with. Having this information and knowledge up front is valuable.


Estimating Labor Costs

An important factor in your estimate is your labor costs. Calculate your labor costs and take into consideration any costs for contractors you may use. Make sure you get accurate estimates for work from contractors if you use them. Also, consider the need for overtime pay if the job is one that requires the extra labor.


Estimating Construction Materials

Materials are also a primary consideration in any estimate. Have an accurate estimate on the items you will need to complete the job. Here you will want to take into consideration the need for any special tools or equipment that may be needed to complete the job. To help account for changes or waste, add ten percent.


Summing Up Electrical Estimating Costs

Once you have your labor, materials, and overhead figured out, determine an amount that pays you for your time and expertise. Total all of these costs, and add a ten percent cushion to the total to get your estimate.


To take you estimating to another level, check out Trimble MEP’s advanced electrical estimating software to help you accurately and effectively get the job done right, the first time, every time.