The National Electric Code (NEC) is a set of nationally recognized standards that many state and local jurisdictions across the United States have adopted for regulatory compliance purposes. Developed by the National Fire Protection Association, they began as a means of ensuring electrical wiring in dwellings and commercial facilities would be installed safely and consistently. Now, beyond the safety benefits of following NEC guidelines, they also provide a generally accepted quality standard and outline of best practices for the electrical trades.
All that being said, it’s easy to understand why electrical engineers and contractors should be interested in understanding and striving to comply with NEC guidelines. But there’s not really any need for other MEP professionals to worry about NEC standards, is there?
Actually, there is. For example, electrical estimators looking to develop competitive bids that may span multiple jurisdictions do well to incorporate NEC compliance into the designs they spec, the materials they choose, and many other factors that will affect the outcome of their estimates. And, with estimators required to create about eight bids for every one they win, anything that can help make the process faster, more efficient, and more competitive, will help.
Why NEC compliance doesn’t get the attention it should
Compliance with NEC standards is difficult for many firms because the standards themselves have not been adopted or enforced nationally. Likewise, localities that have agreed to require NEC compliance are not obligated to adopt the most recent version, and many have not yet done so.
As a result, electrical projects taking place the next town, city, or state over could very well have completely different compliance requirements from what an estimator is used to. This affects their ability to produce competitive bids under these different circumstances.
Of course, that doesn’t mean ignoring the NEC standards is the right option either. After all, at least some of the areas the firm is targeting more than likely adopted the NEC standards for compliance, so the issue is going to come up at some point.
Why estimators should understand NEC standards
Rather than ignoring or avoiding NEC compliance, electrical estimators who make an effort to learn and abide by these standards can benefit themselves and their firms in many ways:
- Differentiation - If all of a firm’s bids and estimates include plans that comply with the latest NEC standards (even where they’re not legally required to do so) then they’re meeting or exceeding the highest accepted standards for safety and quality on every job. If other competing firms are not, it can be a powerful differentiator.
- Efficiency - With a set of standards like the NEC, every estimate can begin with a similar template or set of minimal requirements that make the estimating process more efficient and faster. This efficiency translates into prefabrication, procurement, scheduling, and even out in the field as the rough plans of the estimator are brought to life.
- Scalability - Complying with the latest NEC guidelines means the electrical aspects of the job being estimated are guaranteed to meet or exceed whatever the local compliance requirements are. Removing compliance challenges from the equation allows estimators and other electrical pros to more effectively collaborate with everyone involved in the project.
The importance of NEC compliance doesn’t end with electrical estimators, however. Designers and detailers can also benefit from learning and applying the NEC standards in their daily activities.
For more information on the importance of the NEC for today’s electrical professional, read our free eBook by clicking below.