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How to Estimate Elevated Installations

How Much Do Elevated Installations Affect Costs?

There are many conditions that can affect labor productivity on a job, but the most common for low voltage professionals is elevated installations.

Most low voltage professionals would agree that terminating a category 6 RJ45 insert at 20’ will take longer than one terminated at a standard height. Over the course of a project this can seriously eat into your profit if not accounted for during the estimating phase.  

So how much time should you add for work performed above standard height (adjusting difficulty factor)?

Elevated Equipment Installation Factors

Structured Cabling Elevation

For the installation of equipment elevated more than 10’ above the floor, the labor costs should be adjusted to allow for the added complexity. This table lists suggested adjustments.

Source: Reprinted from RSMeans Estimating Handbook, Third Edition, Wiley.

While the above labor adjustments are an excellent starting point there are still other considerations to keep in mind:

1. Are there jobsite safety requirements that your crews tie off at lower-than-normal heights?

2. If a lift is required, how easily can you move it in and out of the building?

3. Does the use of a lift require any additional certifications or training for lift operators?

4. How long will you have to leave the lift onsite after cable rough-in before you can trim-out the cable plant and test? Remember you’ll need the lift for a lot of these drops.

5. What type of flooring is proposed, and can you drive the lift over it without putting protective boarding down? This one can be painfully slow if the lift is required at the later stages of a project.

The above scenarios are common and can be painful to deal with if you do not account for the added costs in your estimate. There will be other uncommon In a lot of cases, you cannot account for everything by looking at the plans, so when in doubt walk the project and always include assumptions in your proposal to protect against unknowns that are outside of your control and aren’t called out on the project plans or specifications.