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#1506 - 05/14/01 02:51 PM Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky66wv  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
After spending two days on an estimate that I probably won't see fruition with, and realizing that I'm doing the architech's, engineer's, and estimator's jobs (not exactly a piece of cake for me, I'm the chief, cook and the can cleaner...) I've come to the conclusion that I'm wasting a lot of time doing free estimates.

I choose to give floor plan/ electrical plan, itemized materials list, and estimates for options. Then they can't say I bid the whole job and they want 14 $3000 fixtures from my pay. The estimate only includes what I have itemized.

Even my brother-in-law (general contractor) charged $250 for the design of the deck for the recent hot tub installation I've mentioned. That was more money than the whole profit that I made on the service change and rough install for the tub.


My question: Do you guys charge for any of these services? (Electrical plan, take-offs, estimates, etc.) Assume you have nothing but your tape measurer and a piece of paper to work with (no plans at all).

( This thread was done before, but we got a lot of new members now, and I'd like some more input.)


How do the big boys do it? (The companies with well-paid in house engineers, architects and estimators) I could see an estimate costing a big company a good $1K for even a modest home. Say they only get one out of three jobs, and they've got a $3000 overhead for estimates before work starts and the labor costs pile up. Heck I'm lucky to get $2500 for the labor and total net profit from a medium sized home.

How do you all do it?


[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 05-14-2001).]


-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades

#1507 - 05/14/01 03:01 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,308
Virgil;
for me it's not a yes or no answer, too many variables. If it's a GC i'm tight with fine, if it's a tire kicker i'll do very quick and generic numbers. I have more than once also detailed drawings,spec, as you have done , to find a DYI'er use such himself.

One other point, i DO NOT advertise my license # , due to the latter scenario.


#1508 - 05/14/01 03:15 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky66wv  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
Wow...it's state law here to have your lic.# posted, or a copy of your lic. on any job site. Most just paint it on their truck. (Contractor's Lic. that is)

My old boss had his magnetic signs ripped off once, and some swindlers were using them for their evil.

I did a $7500 itemized bid for my neighbor across the street (4000 sq. ft. house). I'm suspicious that he'll DIY it now that I've done the hard part... [Linked Image]

An $5000 itemized estimate for a lodge was submitted today, the carpenters will probably DIY there, no inspections. (We can do it for half that!...)


-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#1509 - 05/14/01 03:29 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,308
If i work in Mass., i must have #'s on the truck, but not NH (i think) or VT. I must have a wallet license at all times.
( the beers on me for any AHJ who simply asks to see this..)
[Linked Image]

So, do you have a comuterized plug-it-in type of system for your bids? prices per stop? have you learned of any quick methods to expidite bids & estimates? how do you handle extra's? how about lighting, do you do the standard allowance, or do you get in depth with it?

lotta Q's, but i'm learnin' too!

[Linked Image]


#1510 - 05/14/01 03:48 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky66wv  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
For commercial, I use the 1990 Electrical Construction Estimator. The old prices and labor rates still have to be lowered to reflect prices here, so the age isn't a concern.

Besides my own crude estimator, (still trying to tweak it) I don't have anything as of yet for the puter, but the one ECN's bookstore is selling looks great.

For quick figures, new construction $2 per square foot and $3.5 per amp for the service ($4 for a disco too) only works well for code minimums and homes less than 2000 sq. ft.

Renovs get $3 per square foot.

Per "hole" prices are about $25 to $30, depending on size of dwelling.

Long hand with a floor plan, ruler and a lot of imagination and time seems to be the best route so far for accuracy, which is ubiquitous to getting jobs.

I still don't have a reasonable data base to come up with my own short cuts and averages.


-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#1511 - 05/14/01 06:15 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky66wv  Offline
Member
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,236
West Virginia
I should say that wire take-off and labor are my weakest points...

The rest is pretty straightforward.

Any tips?


-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

#1512 - 05/14/01 06:38 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
Scott35  Offline

Broom Pusher and
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 2,707
Anaheim, CA. USA
I don't do our estimations [but I do make up proposals and invoices], however I have been the victim of many E designs, where i also feel it was done to get an idea of what the project needs, then someone else gets paid to not only install, but for my designs!!

If the project is something small [like maybe an hour of hard print drawing tops], that's not so bad when they "Use You" for free.
When it comes to 3 days of AutoCAD work, several master plots, blackline sets and all that - then the client decides to be a D**K with you and bring in someone else [wants the plansets, but won't pay any cash for making them - even going so far as wanting a PE wetstampped set!], that's time to draw the line [luckilly this hasn't happened to the fullest extents].

Personally, I do a heck of a lot of free work [Pro Bono to me [Linked Image]] for people that usually cannot afford to have someone else do it [price and safety, plus reliability].
It ranges from Electrical work, drawings - to computer work.
These are the jobs where the smile on the person's face, plus the "thank yous" and the nice dinners are worth more to me than any $$ could ever bring!!

Scott SET


Scott " 35 " Thompson
Just Say NO To Green Eggs And Ham!

#1513 - 05/14/01 07:51 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
sparky  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,308
I really have not come to terms on what works best to estimate by.
I'm always amazed at people calling me for a $$$ , sight unseen, no specifics.
So i tend to simply feel out what a little sticker shock will do... [Linked Image]

And yes, i do pull my punches in certain situations. I've done i don't know how many 5 min serv calls for zip, especially for the little ol' ladies.
[Linked Image]


#1514 - 05/14/01 08:12 PM Re: Architect, Engineer, Estimator  
electure  Offline


Member
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,259
Fullerton, CA USA
If you put a heading "Exclusions" in your proposal and list such unknown things as supplying fixtures to be selected by owner, those high dollar fixtures won't haunt you.
If you have a suggestion for a fixture, or one is iffy, it can be listed as an adder under "Alternates" to your original bid price for the rough and hang. We usually just supply the labor to hang the fixture that the customer provides in a case like this, and pray it doesn't weigh 250 lbs. when they select it.
And yes, by all means charge for your design time. If you've got to do the engineering, then it's part of the work and should not be given for free so somebody else can do the work.


[This message has been edited by electure (edited 05-14-2001).]



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