Monthly Archives: September 2009

Should You Use Electrical Estimating Software? (Part 1)

I know that many of you have heard this discussion before. However, I have had many requests for this information lately, so here is my take on it.

 The first argument is time. I have often heard when teaching computerized estimating, “I can do it faster by hand”. This may seem true while learning and setting up a system. However, once a system has been learned, you will save about eight hours on a $250,000 estimate.

 You will not save time doing the takeoff (counting and measuring) the plans. Technology has done nothing for these activities, although several companies are working on it. You will save a tremendous amount of time after the takeoff is finished. Here is how it breaks down the paper way.

  1. Explode all assemblies and list components on pricing sheets
  2. Manually price all of the material
  3. Manually labor all of the material
  4. Extend the material and labor total for every line on the sheet
  5. Total the material and labor columns for every price sheet
  6. Have your math double checked by someone else
  7. Transfer your totals to the recap sheet
  8. Do all the math on the recap sheet
  9. Make a quick review, and give it the boss for approval
  10. Do all the math over every time a change is made

 When I was a junior estimator BC (before computers), this process took 4 people about 2 hours, or 8 hours total. Then a miracle happened. Jack McCormick came and demoed his electrical estimating system on the Apple II computer. The system performed the above referenced work in about 3 minutes. It only took that long because of how slow printers were at the time. The time savings allowed me more time to be competitive on bid day, and of course allowed me to complete more estimates than before.

 That’s it for part one. The next part will cover, well, I don’t know yet.