Back in calendar B.C. (before computers), electrical estimators were taught to add a markup for miscellaneous materials. The usual markup on an average commercial project was five percent of the material cost, excluding quotations. The markup covered materials such as screws, tape, wire-nuts and box supports. In the name of speed, we were taught to break down the takeoff into the major materials only. For instance, a duplex receptacle would be broken down as follows:
- 4S Box
- 4S 1Gang Ring
- Duplex Receptacle
- Duplex Plate
Each item needs to be priced and labored, and then multiplied (extended) by the quantity. Here are some other items that may be in a duplex receptacle assembly:
- Grounding Pigtail
- Wire Nuts
- Box Supports
If we add these items to the takeoff, we will have doubled the number of items, and doubled the time it takes to list, price, labor and extend a duplex receptacle. As you can see. the additional time required to process miscellaneous materials for an entire estimate is significant.
Then along came computers. In my first system (McCormick on an Apple II), the assemblies were similar to the manual method, so the miscellaneous material markup remained the same. As estimating databases matured, more items were added to the assemblies. In my current database, the assemblies are complete with all supports, wire connectors, pigtails and screws. Since these assemblies are so comprehensive, the miscellaneous material markups need to be smaller. For commercial work, the markup can be as little as one percent.
On the subject of databases, it is the estimator’s responsibility to know what is in the database assemblies, and how the items are priced and labored. Every software package is different. You should not just assume that everything in the database is correct.
Another miscellaneous markup that is often missed is expendable tools. This markup covers items like drill bits, saw blades, soap and rags. It also covers the types of tools that seem to disappear when a project is completed. For most contractors, this markup is two percent of the labor dollars on a project.
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