Monthly Archives: April 2010

Is Green The Future For Electrical Contractors (And Therefore Electrical Estimators)?

A business acquaintance of mine recently posted an article stating an opinion based on his research regarding the future of electricians in relation to green construction. He believes that electrical contractors need to become energy contractors. Click here to read the article.

The author proposes that electrical contractors will need to update their skills as required to meet the changes related to energy efficiency and alternate energy sources. Of course, any new technology that uses or manipulates electricity will need to be understood by electrical estimators.

This could be a problem for electrical estimators. Where are we supposed to get labor units for new technology? These labor units are not in the labor manuals or estimating system databases. If your company has not done this type of work before, you have no historical data to fall back on. The good news is that there are several ways to deal with this problem.

The first method I experienced was to hire the expertise. I was once with a company that wanted to get into high voltage work. I was able to hire an expert to help me with the estimate and run the work. Using the history we developed on the project, we were able to start adding data to our labor manual for high voltage work. I imagine that in today’s labor market, you should be able to find someone with the experience to help you with any new technology.

Another method I have used is subcontractors. If my men could not do the job, I could often sub it out. There is a question of ethics here if you intend to obtain labor units based on the subcontractor’s performance. Using the subcontractor to teach you so you can take away his work is questionable.

A more difficult and risky method I have used is to develop labor units. This involved having meetings with estimators, field personnel and vendors of the new technology. I have been fortunate using this method, as projects I have won with this way have made money. And when you are done with the project, you now have some history to analyze.

As usual, let me know what you think.