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Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: Submanvm] #163644 05/13/07 12:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member
I must apologize for not watching this thread as it developed.


Losing a bid is always a touchy subject. Part of it is the uncertainty- did the two of you bid on the same thing? Can you really save that much by cutting corners? Etc.

Just giving the OP a quick look, and not knowing the exact site conditions, I see a 4 day job. I'd plan for a week. If I had a helper, it might be cut to three days. So, the original estimate is realistic.

Now, if I ran the job using a pair of practiced apprentices, and cut a few corners (no running boards, tie into existing circuits, no permit, etc.) I can see where the lower price is possible.

This brings us to the heart of the bidding game.
Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that you make an exact guess. That is, you estimate your cost to be $1000, and the job costs you $1000. Bidding $1000 really has you taking a gamble.

You gamble, first, that there will be no nasty surprises. Like the block wall that turns out to be cement filled, and takes 4 hours to pierce - not the 30 minutes you estimated. Or that someone won't track roof tar across the carpet.
You are also gambling that there will be changes ... an opportunity to fix any errors in your first price. You are assuming that the customer will automatically turn to you for additional work.

Sure, there's a role for preparation. I show up at a house, I don't have a foot of Romex with me ... it's not my usual type of work. So, I have to go shopping. Another guy, who does residential all the time, might have everything already with him. Doom on me!

When you bid, it's not enough that you know the trade, and the market. You need to know your competition.
If you're competing against a handyman, a guy running his new business off his kitchen table, and a homeowner considering a little DIY .... it will be very hard to make money.
On the other hand, if the job requires skills and equipment that only two or three guys have - and the others are busy - you can relax some.

That's why you have to see the bid as an opportunity to set yourself apart from the pack. It's not just price ... it's a chance to show what you can do better than the other guy. You've got to get their eyes off that bottom line!

Last edited by renosteinke; 05/13/07 08:48 PM.
Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: renosteinke] #163696 05/14/07 11:28 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 2
S
sparktrician_51 Offline
New Member
New guy alert...new guy alert....
I have not been in this trade as long as some, only about 10 years, and I have worked for a few different companies in a few different states, not Jersey, but there is one thing that always seems to be true....someone is always cheaper, and someone is always bitter. I have.. GASP .. done "sidework" before, basement finishes etc, non permited. These jobs were mostly set up by my very reputable employer, because he didnt have the time to do them. Just because I charged less than he did, doesnt mean I did any less quality work than I did when I was working for him. It just meant cash talked. Now in my older age, I don't waste time with sidework, because I don't have the time either. If I did, I would probably charge what my boss charges, just to make it worth my while. Also, humbly, I must add for reno, I completely agree about the bottom line thing, but if you get a bid for a HUGE amount less, its definately going to attract attention. Most of the public could care less about "workman like manner"...they want to flip the switch and have light. If someone can do that for half price, you may just end up being scrooged.

Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: LK] #163713 05/15/07 12:22 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
L
LK Offline
Member
Originally Posted by LK
[quote=sparktrician_51]New guy alert...new guy alert....
I have not been in this trade as long as some, only about 10 years, and I have worked for a few different companies in a few different tates, not Jersey, but there is one thing that always seems to be true....someone is always cheaper, and someone is always bitter. I have.. GASP .. done "sidework" before, basement finishes etc, non permited. These jobs were mostly set up by my very reputable employer, because he didnt have the time to do them. Just because I charged less than he did, doesnt mean I did any less quality work than I did when I was working for him. It just meant cash talked. Now in my older age, I don't waste time with sidework, because I don't have the time either. If I did, I would probably charge what my boss charges, just to make it worth my while. Also, humbly, I must add for reno, I completely agree about the bottom line thing, but if you get a bid for a HUGE amount less, its definately going to attract attention. Most of the public could care less about "workman like manner"...they want to flip the switch and have light.


First, I have never done any electrical side work, and would never ask anyone to put themself in that position, side work is a big risk for everyone involved, the homeowner puts his largest investment of a lifetime at risk, the quality of the work done, or the level of knowladge, has nothing to do with the risk, of not having workers comp insurance,or liability coverage, one slip, fall. or injury, at the home can cost the homeowner and or you, everything, so when you do that side job, your saying I don't care how I put the homeowner at risk, all I care about is making a few bucks, also not having the proper insurances in place puts you at risk, big time for liability, and that may have you on the hook for many years depending on your state laws, Then there is the permit, no permit, and the homeowner looses again, if there is any loss claims, either while working the job or years after it's completion, but Mr Side Job, never weighs these risks, and that's ok, if he has no assets, and does not mind either a jail term, or a lifetime of probation, and payments, should things go wrong.

What always amazed me, was someone not understanding all the risks involved in doing side work, I guess they just haven't see the tragdy of a job gone wrong yet.

"Most of the public could care less about "workman like manner"...they want to flip the switch and have light."

But they will care, when need someone to take on the liability for a job gone wrong.



Last edited by LK; 05/15/07 12:27 PM.
Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: LK] #163714 05/15/07 12:32 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
I
ITO Offline
Member
Side work just is not that big of a deal and most of us have done it in one form or another. Most of my electricians do side work for neighbors, friends, churches and such. I even got a sprinkler system, on a side work trade. I think it’s generally understood by the homeowners that anything done on the side is at risk work, but that is just part of the deal and sometimes it’s just part of the budget.


101° Rx = + /_\
Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: ITO] #163728 05/15/07 07:48 PM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 7,235
HotLine1 Offline
Member
I just have to add my two cents. I have not 'bid' resi in a long, long time. Why? the 'other guys' basically giving away the ranch. To them, I say 'God Bless'.

Guys were doing new resi (SFD; condos; apts) for prices that I could not match if I worked (myself) for 12 hrs a day for $75.

I decided to stay with Ind (when it WAS here) and comm; both bid and T&M. I've been fortunate to have "good" clients, with long relationships.

Have any of you guys called a plumber recently? Most use a 'flat rate' price book.
Wax seal replaced; $149. Shut off valve at sink/lav; $95. Hose bib (outside/frostproof); $225

Yes, this is 'service' work. They also have a 'book' for new work. They seem to stick together, and support each other by not amputating each others testicles.

I recently ran budget numbers for a comm job ranging from <25k to a tad over $100k; same conditions, same prints, same spec, same everything!

Just my 2 cent rant.
John


John
Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: Submanvm] #163747 05/16/07 08:55 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 47
T
trevman Offline
Member
I have realised that i dont want to get every job,in the beginning i was concerned about charging to much and sitting at home with nothing to do. for example guys are doing 100a service upgrades for 1200.00 where i live and they are busy every day but their profit margin is low and they may lose on the odd one even.I charge 1850.00 and not as busy as them so i can be there quicker and provide a more quality installation as im not rushing to be done. i have phoned these guys and complained about their pricing as some of the jobs i have gotten have been from their customers that dont want to wait.I always tell residential customers that my prices are not cheap.Good paying customers realise you get what you pay for. Im starting to see how flat rate works ie upgrade 100a 24 cct panel to new 48 cct 100a panel 850.00 upgrade 100a ungrounded service to neww 100a grounded service 1000.00 total 1850.00

Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: trevman] #163861 05/19/07 01:59 PM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 31
M
Mountain Electrician Offline
Junior Member
Looks to me like about $500.00 in parts and around 32 hours. You said it was an addition, so those hours should be good as long as you can get to the panel easily and have enough extra capacity. Looks like the other guy is going to do it for wages.

Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: EV607797] #166503 07/22/07 04:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 34
T
teester Offline
Member
Don't know what your wages are up there but in the NON union state of SC, that job could be done with a $12/hr man and money be made charging $40/hr for around $2000. Wouldn't make a killing but if I bid this job for $3500 with the F-Troop competetion we have here I'd never get it. There are too many of one/two men rodeo operations working from their truck with no workers comp, no office and little overhead who would likely do it for $1500 or so.

Many of you probably won't believe it but in our state, your mom could register with the state and tell them she has done electrical work before and could start her own electrical contracting business! She would be limited to the county in my area and would have a dollar limit per job of I think it is $5000 but she would be legal and could start work not even knowing the difference between Romex and a wire nut!

Can you believe that these legislators in our state government allow such nonsense? And we see their handywork all the time... Such actions by the state is reckless and dangerous. It will probably take a few lawsuits to get anything changed.

Re: Did I estimate too much? [Re: Submanvm] #166582 07/23/07 08:39 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 37
F
falcondfb Offline
Member
I have never lost money on a job I over bid, just the ones I under bid. Your price is a bit higher then my estimate but not even close to $1500.00. Of course you have more information on the particulars of the project. If the customer wants to compare prices then suggest they get at least 3. That way they can see who is the odd man out.

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