Electrical Estimating - Job Walk

Before creating an estimate using estimating software, it is very advantageous to do a job walk. It is recommended you review the project plans prior to doing the job walk so that you are familiar with it. Follow these steps to be most effective on your Job Walk.

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If the scope of the work is not clear - ask questions! - When attending a job walk, if the scope of the work is not clear, always ask questions! The only dumb question is one that did not get asked. You cannot prepare a thorough electrical estimate without complete information. Also be on the lookout for job site conditions that will impact your price. Ask what is to be included by the electrical contractor and what is to be excluded or performed by others.

For instance:

• Is the owner furnishing any equipment or materials such as lighting fixtures or switch gear?

• Is pre-purchased equipment, like switch gear, going to be paid for by the owner or will it be your responsibility to purchase?

• During what hours is the work to be performed?

• Who will pay for parking costs of your or your employees' vehicles?

• Who will dispose of demolished ( demo) materials?

If information is missing or not clear, by asking questions you will get the answers which will place you on a level playing field with the other bidders. Here is another important fact about asking questions at the job walk. When you ask questions during a job walk open to all electrical contractors, everyone (your competitors) will hear the answers as well.

If everyone at the job walk hears the answers and understands the same scope of work, all players get the same information. Everyone will bid on the same work. (hopefully!)

Take notes - Take precise notes at the job walk and review them before you start doing a material take-off from the blueprints or entering materials in your electrical estimating software.

Take pictures - Use your phone camera or take a digital camera with you and take pictures of everything. A picture is worth a thousand words. You can refer to pictures later as you prepare your bid and pictures could help resolve disputes in the future. Be sure to save them in a file so you can print the pictures or reference them later.

Get Switch Gear Information - Write down the pertinent information from the name plates of existing switchboards or power distribution equipment that are associated with your bid (Manufacturers name, amp rating of main breaker, serial number, amps, volts, AIC rating, etc.).

This will come in handy if you have to match new breakers to existing panels or switch gear. Take pictures of the switch gear as well. Sometimes it is nice to know how many conduits are coming out of the top or bottom of a panel or, to have an idea of how much clearance there is between panels.

Lookout for Other Items - Here are some to keep in mind:

1) Are the door openings large enough to get your equipment or man lifts through? Some switchgear or transformers have really large footprints and would not fit thorough a 3'0' door opening. OOPS!

2) How high are the ceilings or roof line of the existing structure?

3) How high of lift equipment or scaffolding is necessary or what size ladders?

Also, if you know in advance that your bid must include concrete work or some other sub-contractors pricing, bring them to the job walk as well so they can observe site conditions. By making careful observation of the site conditions at the job walk you will have valuable information about project costs.

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