You’ve made the decision to place a bid on a project, or one has been assigned to you. Now, you must navigate the process of estimating. There are several preparatory steps to consider before you start tallying up fixtures and devices. Until these steps become ingrained in your practice, it’s recommended to maintain a checklist with the following 10 steps and mark them off as you proceed.

Study Blueprints:

Assuming that you have all bid documents at your disposal, remember not to place a bid solely based on the electrical drawings. Every blueprint is important. The initial blueprint usually contains a table of contents. Without it, you wouldn’t even be sure if all electrical drawings are at your disposal. Cross-verify with the table of contents to ensure you have all the necessary drawings, including Electrical, Systems, Civil, etc.

Review Specifications:

Ensure you have all sections of the specifications as stated in the table of contents. If someone provides you only with electrical specifications, inform them that your proposal will reflect the sections you’ve received. This same rule also applies to blueprints.

Confirm Bid Date:

Review the specifications or bid invitation to ascertain the deadline for proposal submissions.

Method of Bid Delivery:

Once again, refer to the specifications or bid invite to understand how your proposal should be delivered. If you’re submitting it to a general contractor, you’ll probably be sending it via email. If you’re bidding as a prime contractor, you might have to hand-deliver a sealed, labeled envelope. For these scenarios, refer to the Instructions to Bidders in the specifications.

Understanding Bid Form:

Examine the bid form within the specifications or bid invite to understand how your proposal should be structured. Determine if it’s a lump sum or requires a detailed breakdown by building or system. Also, check for any add or deduct alternates.

Gathering Supplier Quotations:

Go through the blueprints and specifications to identify the materials and manufacturers required for your proposal. For instance, if a generator is involved in the project, the acceptable manufacturers would be specified. After listing out the necessary supplier quotes, share the plans and specifications with them as early as possible. Make them aware of any alternates or breakouts required.

Getting Subcontractor Quotations:

Study the plans and specifications to identify the necessary subcontractor quotes. If subcontracting elements such as the fire alarm or other low voltage systems, determine the acceptable manufacturers and share the plans and specifications with the subcontractors immediately.

Verifying Insurance:

Check the specifications for the insurance requirements. Forward these documents to your CFO or insurance agent to confirm if your company can meet these requirements or if extra expenditure is necessary.

Bid, Payment & Performance Bonds:

Review the specification for the requirement of bid, performance & payment bonds. If you’re bidding to a general contractor, a bid bond may not be required. However, if you’re bidding as a prime subcontractor directly to an owner, you will likely need one. It’s also possible that the general contractor requests an adder for performance & payment bonds, typically as a percentage of the contract amount. Share this information with your CFO or Bonding Agent for review.

MBE, DBE Participation:

Examine the specifications to determine if you need to include any costs for MBE, DBE, or any other designation. For instance, if a project requires 5% MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) participation, you will need to source a quote from an MBE subcontractor or Supplier to cover this cost.

In conclusion, these are the top 10 steps to accomplish before embarking on an estimate. Proactively sharing project information with suppliers, subcontractors, insurance agents, etc. will help to avoid any last-minute rush to gather quotes when finalizing your estimate.

Happy Estimating!