As electricians, we tend to use technical language. Unfortunately, many terms used in estimating and electrical terminology we ourselves use on a daily basis are unknown to many clients. Here's a quick glossary of electrical terms to help you communicate to clients these common concepts in electrical estimating.
Glossary of Common Electrical Estimating Terms
Alternate bid –
This is work that the owner may include or exclude in the final project.
A group of common material items in a unit which can be used to speed up the estimating process.
Base bid -
The estimate on the primary work requested by the customer, often including the scope of work.
- A financially secured, written guarantee by a bond company covering the bidder in the event that the work is not done within the terms of a contract. The winning bidder than provides a performance bond.
Bid Review –
The time you should take to
review your work before submitting a bid. In general, it's best to have another person check for errors.
Bill of Materials –
All the materials required to complete a part of or an entire project.
Estimate Production Schedule –
The list of major takeoff items listed out in a particular sequence, such as by phase of the project, overall system or type of material.
A statement that is written onto your estimate to convey portions of work or materials which are not included in the total estimated price.
A statement written into your estimate to convey parts of the work or materials which are included in the overall price.
Job Expenses –
Expenses that are not part of the material costs of the project. This can include tools or equipment that are used from job to job, eventually losing capability, testing, office overhead and similar expenses.
Job Walk –
Also called a walk-through, a job walk is when you go through and inspect the job site to determine the actual physical conditions of the job. This often takes place all at once with the General Contractor overseeing the project and the various trade businesses that are potential subcontractors..
Labor Units –
This is defined as the length of time needed to install specific electrical material, allowing for better and more specific estimation of job labor costs.
Material Take-off –
This is similar to the Estimate Production Schedule, but is an overall list of materials rather than a list broken down by specific segments. This also often includes equipment costs, permits and similar expenses.
Material Quotes –
To provide your prospect with the most accurate estimate, many companies get material costs from their suppliers. This is often handled using existing price sheets, Excel documents or, in better electrical estimating software
packages, from an automatically-updated database. You can spend significant time chasing down costs while preparing estimates.
Performance Bond –
Once the winning bidder has been selected, this is a financially secured guarantee that takes the place of a bid bond. It provides reassurance for the customer that the work is going to be completed according to plans and specifications unless otherwise ordered.
A proposal is the final formal document summarizing your bid or estimate that has been prepared for the prospect, showing all the details needed to select the best contractor for the job. Better estimating software packages can export your data from your existing estimate file to a professional-looking proposal with virtually no effort.
This is an explanation that clarifies your proposal, such as conditions under which work is undertaken.
This is a quick cost summary of your proposal, often broken down by the type or category, such as the amount spent on materials, on labor and on outside costs such as subcontractors.
Scope of Work –
This details the exact nature of the work as it is expected to be done, beyond which the contractor may make additional requirements, such as additional compensation to cover overtime hours if a project can't be undertaken during their normal hours of operation.
This is the document which provides the exact technical details about requirements for the materials or work completed for that particular job.
Spec read form –
This is a document which lists the high points of items in the specifications, such as requirements to use a particular junction box type, a specific level of performance for light fixtures or similar concerns.
Sub-contractor Quote –
When you need to hire in a third party to cover work you don't have expertise in, such as concrete work, excavators or similar services, that information is often covered in a subcontractor bid or quote. Much like the materials quote, this would come from your subcontractors so that you can include the most accurate information on your final proposal.
This is the process you'll go through that covers counting, measuring or otherwise determining all the materials that would be required to complete the job, allowing you to create a more accurate estimate.
Vendor or Supplier Quote Spreadsheet –
This is a document, specifically a spreadsheet, which is submitted to the contractors before giving them information about the requested item. It often lists which suppliers who have been asked to quote, allowing you to select the specific vendor who gives you the most competitive price.
As you're preparing your next estimate, keep in mind that your clients may not have the same level of expertise you do and phrase your estimate appropriately. This helps give the customer a better feeling of security when working with your business. You can also improve your estimates themselves while lowering the amount of time you spend in the office developing them. Esticom's electrical estimation solution provides a range of tools to improve your office efficiency so you can spend your time on the job instead of behind a desk. Give it a try today to get back out into the field faster.