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Estimating Residential #168080 08/26/07 07:51 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 9
AWL Offline OP
New Member
Any tips or suggestions? Im kinda new any input would be GREATLY appreciated

Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:
Re: Estimating Residential [Re: AWL] #168082 08/26/07 08:49 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
You ever take off any plans before?

101° Rx = + /_\
Re: Estimating Residential [Re: ITO] #168088 08/26/07 08:58 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 9
AWL Offline OP
New Member

I have a plan here and Im got a count as to outlets 3ws 4 ways and the such Im just stuck on how you formulate a price for these items......

Re: Estimating Residential [Re: AWL] #168092 08/26/07 10:14 PM
Joined: Nov 2006
Posts: 348
ITO Offline
Every piece of material has a labor unit, and a cost of material associated to it.

One outlet-
Wire nuts

Each item has a value in the form of time of how long you will spend fooling with it get it installed plus a dollar value for the cost of the material.

A short cut is to add all that together and figure an average distance for the romex and then formulated a labor unit and cost per outlet.

Labor units are something you can buy in a book on estimating. DO NOT USE RS Means for estimating the units are way too high, only use RS Means for change orders.

In a nutshell that is how it work, I would love to wax on and on about it but I have babies to put in bed.

101° Rx = + /_\
Re: Estimating Residential [Re: AWL] #168108 08/27/07 09:18 AM
Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 272
A-Line Offline
I suggest you invest in estimating software and a book on estimating. Mike Holt has books and videos on estimating. Mike Holt's estimating book has some labor units in it you can use until you develop your own. Estimating software will come with labor units set up that you can change to reflect your own labor units.

Here's a link to one.

Here's a couple of others.

Last edited by A-Line; 08/27/07 09:24 AM.
Re: Estimating Residential [Re: ITO] #168114 08/27/07 11:57 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 165
Retired_Helper Offline
Originally Posted by ITO
DO NOT USE RS Means for estimating the units are way too high, only use RS Means for change orders.

This is why I follow these forums. The "book learning" would say use Means. The real world, as Ito says, is quite different.

Re: Estimating Residential [Re: ITO] #168122 08/27/07 02:48 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
ChicoC10 Offline
Originally Posted by ITO
You ever take off any plans before?

Or have you had to sit down and order the material for a job trying your darnedest not to forget anything but also not buy too much? A wee bit of extra being better than not quite enough? Then take the crew out and install said material in as efficient a manner as possible?

If that was your job for long enough you should know what it takes in both time and material to get each phase of a house wired.

Get pricing, pray it doesn't go up too much next week if you don't have the money or the storage space to buy it all up front, and add it all up.

If you have employees you'll have to figure out what each one REALLY costs you per hour to get your average man/hour rate. If it's just you use your best guess of what your competitions REAL M/H rate is.

Add to the total a small percentage for overhead (unless you have huge overhead for some reason) and a certain percentage for profit (cause that's what the other guys are going to do).

When your done your number should be have you making and not losing money. Better to lose the job that do it for almost free. But you shouldn't be leaving too much on the table every time either and short of CGs or competitors actually telling you where you should be the only way to find out is to lose one now and again.

Comb over every page and every note of the plans. Something missed in the plumbers notes like an instant hot water dispenser will take a circuit for sure.
When the architect draws the condensing unit 10 feet from the panel don't believe it. Include enough wire to hit the farthest corner of the building.
Same with the service. Unless you have it on VERY good authority that it will be where its shown figure your home runs and bonding wire for worst case.

Ask a LOT of questions. Septic pump? Where? Well? Where?
Future pool/outbuilding? Where? Yard lighting, gate power, etc....

Now the tricky part is seeing in 2D that that gluelam is going to add X # of feet to the home runs or even cause you to add a sub to keep length down......or that something is being speced that you've never heard of and no idea how to set up for.

That should get you started and you might even prefer it to software although I'd bet the software would be helpful for areas where your hands on is limited.
I wouldn't try to bid too far out of my direct experience but should I push my envelope a bit I will be trying some software.

A GC that I used to labor for many years ago once said about the subject of bidding "You sit down to the plans and your scared. You try to think but you can't, because your busy. Being scared."

Don't forget the t&m for underground, the riser,the service and ALL of the breakers. I did that on one of my first bids and ate that on 2 copies of that house. Oops.


Re: Estimating Residential [Re: ChicoC10] #168132 08/27/07 04:17 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 9
AWL Offline OP
New Member
Thanks everyone for there advice! Im basically just a one man crew trying to get by with doing it all myself some call me crazy but Im young...Theres alot of good people on these boards and I appreciate all the help i can get!

Re: Estimating Residential [Re: AWL] #168133 08/27/07 05:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 265
wire_twister Offline

My partner and I are just 5 years into business and estimating is still the trickiest thing for us. It gets easier with experience, like the guys said you will lose a few from time to time, but if you get them all you will know 2 things: you do not have time to do them all and
you are probably working too cheap.


Life is tough, Life is tougher when you are stupid
Re: Estimating Residential [Re: wire_twister] #168233 08/29/07 06:42 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 32
copper Offline
Junior Member
I second Mike Holts book. I got the book and library and I learned lots. I don't have a business so don't listen to me to much smile I would get a good labor unit book, or estimating software. From past experience the supply house will honor a quote up to 30 days, have your Contractor quotes to expire in 30 days (I am assuming you are doing small projects).

write a business plan. You don't don't go on vacation with out a plan so why would you invest thousands of dollars and hours and not have a plan.

Negotiating/sales is the trickiest part.

AWL send me an email I might be able to help you out, or make things worse smile

"If your going to be stupid, You gotta be tough"
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