Can't seem to nail down the "estimate" thing... and people want instant quotes for renovation work and insist that you stick to the price, which is killing me,...or I overbid (or give them sticker shock on an estimate) and don't get the chance to lose money in the first place...(do I sound bitter?) it's been a rough month...
My question is...without spending hundreds for a book or thousands for a program, what tips do any of you have for estimating work? Residential and Light Commercial are my main concerns, but any input is welcome.
Who was the idiot that started "free estimates" in the first place...?
-Virgil Residential/Commercial Inspector 5 Star Inspections Member IAEI
Boy did you say it 66' ! I suppose we could go out and spend a lot of $$$$ on fancy software, i'm just afraid it'll be smarter than me
I make a point of trading notes with all my local competition, no complaints as wet. No one of us wants to be the "low" guy, or the "high" guy all the time.
I see a lot of pricing per stop. I do a lot of bids that way. One thing i did do, is list every residential electrical item as a pre-bid questionaire, cuts down on the woulda-coulda-shoulda's.
I even have seen "old-work" pricing per stop, usually double new construction.
I found a supplier who has "lighting" people that will actually come to the job, or the customer can go to the showroom. Residentiallly, this is usually the biggest hurtle, deciding on lighting.
This works well, but there are always those who cannot extricate thier cranium from thier large intestine no matter how much prompting is offered. So i do lighting allowances for them.
One interesting thing, is service quotes, for instance, in my area, a 100A 20Circuit, 2/3 seu , fairly normal residential service update , with all the fixin's ,will be from $600-$800. How 'bout down your way?
Keep you chin up 66', this is "tire kicker" season, i'm pumpin' out bids one after another, most of whom just want to see what they can do in the market.
That is part of Neil McCains estimating site. He has a free online estimating course. I signed up for it and looked over the first part. Have been too busy to continue with it. I am not contracting and estimates are not a priority now. Looks pretty good. He has been doing this for quite a while and stresses the real world aspects of the trade. He really harps on not bidding low to get the job and trying to make profit on the adders, which I agree with him.
I think everyone's been there at some point. I'm no expert at it either, but what I found that helps keep me from going crazy is breaking down the job into as many manageable pieces as I feel necessary and then adding it all back up again. Residential remodels are likely to be done piecemeal anyway and doing it this way will help to offset the travel time, labor for setup/breakdown that occurs each time you go there.
I've found that it is sometimes easier (and less expensive) to allow a little for tearing out and then install new (if practical) rather than moving everything. I would also try to talk to the customer a little to let them know what can save them money. For instance, on a job that will be completed in stages, are they willing to live without light/power in that room till you come back? or do you have to make sure to hook things back up every time before you leave? You may be surprised with what some people will live with if it will save them money.
These are just personal observations/practices. Coincidentally, I have just opened a Bookstore on the site and have included some books on estimating. Some have previews. I will be adding others in that category today (1/21). Bookstore is at: https://www.electrical-contractor.net/The_Store
If you are interested in some trial software downloads I can link you to them. Send me an E-mail (Have you gotten any E-mails from me?)
Cap'nCrunch comes with a CD too, I don't mean any of my comments here to sound like a commercial or to seem like I am trying to sell you guys something. As far as sucessful estimating goes, judgements play a big part in it. Even the "best" methods and references will not work for all people. Estimating is more of an art than a science. Everyone has to find something that works for them or that they are comfortable with. The product I mentioned just happens to be what I am familiar with.
It makes some suggestions on how to estimate jobs, what to make allowances for, etc. and provides like a zillion different product and material costs and estimated labor involved. You can either do it from the book or with the CD on the Computer. There is a detailed description at the address I mentioned previously, just click on "Contents" or "Review a Chapter"
With that said, I'm done. If anyone has any further questions for me on this you can E-mail me at: Bill@Electrical-Contractor.net
If anyone else has any general, or specific recommendations, please list them here. - Even if it's not a product that We sell, the #1 object is to help each other.