Daily Archives: June 14, 2009

Document Quality and Electrical Estimating

We completed an estimate recently for a truck stop. It contained numerous scope coordination problems. Consider this example. The homeruns from the fuel pumps for the various systems were indicated on a number of different plan sheets. Each plan sheet contradicted the next. One claimed that we were to install the conduit system complete in PVC 40. Another claimed that the fuel system contractor was installing all conduit to the fuel pumps. Yet another claimed that we were only responsible for stub outs from the fuel control desks. And a final note claimed that we were to extend the conduits to the fuel island in PVC 80.

We did eventually worked out the real scope. The point of this discussion however, is that we had to do it at all. This may be old news, but documents continue to get worse. Every once and a while, I think that they have gotten as bad as they can get. I am usually proved to be wrong fairly quickly.

 There are many impacts from this trend. Here are just a few:

  • Estimates need to be prepared earlier, so that RFI’s can be submitted in a timely manner.
  • Estimates take longer to prepare because of the time it takes to solve the problems on the drawings.
  • You will be less certain that your competition is including the same scope you are. If you make a call on a problem and include the work in your scope, will the other bidders do the same?
  • Your bid schedule may be affected by the addendum required to correct the problems.
  • If the addendum does not extend the bid time, you may be working overtime to complete the estimate. This happened to me on the truck stop estimate. I worked over the weekend to complete the estimate for a Tuesday bid date. The project was postponed on Monday.
  • If you win the project, will you have enough overhead and project management time to handle the clarification of the scope? It can be hard to recover this time in change orders.

I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter. Is there anything we can do as estimators? I have heard that there are organizations working on national standards for electrical drawings. Is this true? Can they actually make a difference? I have more thoughts on this subject to be discussed in a future post (that is, if you do not bring them up in this discussion).