Electrical Estimation 101: A Look into our Recent Webinar

LantroTech Marketing

March 24, 2023

LantroTech's webinar on Electrical Estimation 101

LantroTech recently organized a highly informative webinar on Electrical Estimation, which focused on the fundamentals of estimation and the promising career opportunities in this field. During the webinar, our team of experts shared their valuable insights and experiences with the attendees, providing them with a deeper understanding of this vital aspect of the construction and engineering industry.

In this blog post, we will recap the important highlights and takeaways from the webinar, delving deeper into the topics discussed during the event. We’ll also address some of the relevant and interesting questions posed by attendees that couldn’t be answered during the live event.

If you missed the webinar or simply want to revisit the key points covered during the event, this blog post is the perfect resource for you. So without further ado, let’s dive in and explore the world of electrical estimation together!

Key Takeaways

What is Electrical Estimation and Why is it Required?

  • Electrical estimation is the process of figuring out the cost and time required for an electrical project.
  • Electrical estimation is required for both technical and business reasons.
  • In technical terms, electrical estimation helps in planning and budgeting for the project.
  • In business terms, electrical estimation is the starting point for bidding and tendering.
  • Electrical estimation includes four main things: material costs, labor hours, overhead costs, and contingency costs.
  • Material costs include the prices of wires, switches, outlets, light fixtures, and other electrical equipment.
  • Labor hours refer to the working time of electricians and other workers to install all the components.
  • Overhead costs include expenses like insurance, permits, and administrative costs associated with the project.
  • Contingency cost is a safety net in case of unexpected expenses or project changes.

Different Types of Electrical Estimation Methods:

The basic difference between the various methods is their effectiveness and efficiency The Top four methods are:

  1. Order of Magnitude Estimate – an estimator makes an educated guess and the accuracy/error margin is around 25-30%.
  2. Square Foot Estimate – used when the area of the building is known and takes a few hours to complete, with an accuracy of around 20%.
  3. Assemblies Estimate – group of items associated with a component that is being estimated, takes around a day to complete, with a tolerance of around +-15%.
  4. Unit Estimate Method – requires a complete working drawing set and detailed specification, most time-consuming method with the highest accuracy of around +-10%, primarily used for bidding purpose.
Infographics showing four methods of electrical estimation

At LantroTech we generally use the Unit Estimate Method.

Technical Terms Used in Electrical Estimation:

  • SOW – Scope of Work
  • RFI – Request for Information
  • Quantity Take-off – listing all electrical components with exact quantities
  • RFQ – Request for Quotation
  • BOM – Bill of Material
  • Local vendors vs National vendors
  • Bid – a formal document/proposal quoting your price to the contractors
technical terms used in electrical estimation

Steps to Prepare an Electrical Estimate:

  • Conduct a Site Visit
  • Review the Project Plans and Specifications
  • Create a List of Electrical Materials
  • Determine the Quantity of Materials Required
  • Research Material Costs
  • Estimate Labor Costs
  • Calculate Overhead Costs
  • Include Contingency Fund
  • Finalize the Estimate
  • Submit the Estimate
flow diagram showing steps to prepare an electrical estimate.

Factors that Affect an Electrical Estimate:

  • Area/Location of the project
  • Occupancy of the project
  • Architectural details, elevations, sections, finishes schedule
  • MEP plans and coordination

After the Electrical Estimate:

  • After completing the estimate, it goes through several review layers.
  • Estimator works on overheads, profit margins, labor costs, taxes, and tolerance funds.
  • Estimate is submitted to the owner/PM for review and analysis.
  • Meetings are held with the PM/owner to check if the proposal cost is within budget.
  • Cost optimization/value engineering techniques are used if the proposal is not within budget.

Estimation and Project Management:

  • Estimation and project management are closely connected.
  • Both are necessary for completing a project within budget and timeline.
  • There is constant communication between estimators and project managers throughout the project timeline.
  • The project manager’s job relies on having a properly estimated project.
  • The “Waterfall methodology” is a common construction project methodology where estimation is the start of project management.
  • Estimator accuracy and project manager efficiency are critical to a project’s success or failure.
Steps involved in a waterfall methodology for electrical estimation.

Skills and Background Required to Learn Electrical Estimation:

  • A right technical background, preferably in electrical engineering or associate electrical engineering.
  • Attention to detail.
  • IT aptitude for working with multiple software and coordinating with different people in the estimation process.

 Scope of Electrical Estimation in Pakistan and Abroad:

  • Due to the economic crunch, organizations and builders are looking to optimize costs and increase savings, leading to an increasing demand for experts in all facets of construction, including electrical estimation.
  • Electrical engineers are now a big part of the construction industry in Pakistan, as every structure runs on electricity and electrical equipment.
  • There has always been a demand for electrical estimators in construction, especially in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and Ireland.
  • There is an increasing demand for data centers in Pakistan and abroad, and electrical infrastructure construction is the backbone of it.
  • This presents a great opportunity for electrical engineers to pursue a career in estimation.

Questions Asked by the Audience

Here is a list of questions that couldn’t be answered during the webinar:

Q1: What is the common Estimating Software used at LantroTech or generally in Pakistan?
Ans: There are various softwares used in the entire process of estimation. These softwares are used for fulfilling different purposes. The three most common types include:

  1. Communication Software: Any possible communication channel that works for both you and the client. Some good ones include Teams, Outlook, etc.
  2. Technical Software: These are used for Take-off purposes, i.e., Quantity Take-offs and Assembly Take-offs. Some best ones include:
    • Plan Swift: Ideal for counting quickly, easy to export excel reports, both online/offline functionality, not good for assembly take-offs.
    • CONEST Surecount: Quantity Take-offs, Branch Measurements, Distribution of Items in different groups as in levels and type of item.
    • CONEST Intellibid: Assembly Take-offs, Works best in coordination with Surecount, directly export the items from sure count to intellibid, best reporting features, best in-built database of assemblies and items from various manufacturers and part numbers.
    • Bluebeam Revu: Majorly used for Skimming purposes, highlighting scope of work, counting and quick take-offs, shop drawings.
  3. Storage and Transfer Software: You need softwares for storing and transferring files in large quantities. Ideally, a cloud-based system is best suited for a group of people, for example, CONEST Cloud, Dropbox, PlanGrid etc.

    Most of the softwares are charged annually, but they are worth the price for the value they add to the process. It’s good to research and choose the one best suited to meet your needs.

Common electrical estimating softwares

Q2: Is it possible to give estimation services remotely?

Ans: Definitely!! Many companies in India, Pakistan and other regions are providing remote services to their clients based in the US, Canada, Ireland, and Australia, where Estimation is a thriving industry. The key is developing good communication and finding ways best suited for the client and the service provider. The Site visits are a major hiccup in this process, so it’s necessary to work in strong coordination with the team member who is present on site. It’s important that clients are aware of your situation and are willing to assist in accurately determining the scope of your work. Overall, remote estimation services can be an excellent career choice.

Q3: How to take off quantities when you have a drawing which is not scaled?
Ans:

  • Raise an RFI and ask the client to provide you with a scaled dwg set.
  • Calibrate the drawing using any known length shown on the drawing.
  • Calibrate the drawing as per the local/International architectural standards, for instance, a 3ft door in the US.

Q4: How can you stay up-to-date with changes in electrical codes and regulations when estimating electrical work?

Ans: Any ideal drawing set will come with instructions that will highlight the codes you need to refer to. You’ll get familiar with most of those with enough time and practice. In case anything new comes up, always look it out in the local/International applicable code. Communicate with the client and ask for a reason for that particular code that is mentioned (particularly if you’re estimating for a remote location). Most of the time, codes are based upon safety considerations and are there to avoid any unfortunate incident. Anything in the design plan that suggests imbalance or a potential hazard must be against the code. It is your cue to check out the applicable code and if there is a particular reason for that arrangement in that case. Make a log of all the different types of projects you have done and all the specific codes that apply to them. It will help you next time.

Q5: What are some common mistakes when estimating electrical work?

Ans: Here is a list of a few commonly made mistakes:

  1. ​​Not catering for a Voltage Drop in the branch measurements.
  2. Not catering for contingency costs.
  3. Ignoring work timings (Straight time/Overtime).
  4. Ignoring Existing Conditions (Usually, a lot of stuff is being re-used).
  5. Not using the latest updated market pricing.
  6. Not giving importance to the architectural layout of the building (For an open ceiling, costs are high etc.)
  7. Not providing Temp power/wiring.

Hopefully by now, you must be quite familiar with Electrical Estimation in general and the process involved in carrying it out. One thing is clear: Electrical Estimation is a mandatory prerequisite for the projects undertaken by construction companies and extremely beneficial in increasing your organization’s productivity and efficiency.

Wrapping Up

At LantroTech, we are committed to providing high-quality informational content and resources to support professionals in the electrical and marketing industry. We’re proud of the work we do and are excited to continue offering webinars like this in the future. Please follow us on social media to stay up-to-date with our latest posts and events. If you have any feedback or suggestions for future webinar topics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Click here to watch the webinar recording.

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