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Electrical contractors are called “contractors” for a reason. Contracting companies enter into contractual agreements with owners. The contractor agrees to provide the necessary labor and materials to build the project as per the contract documents.

The consequences of failing to understand requirements of the contract are significant. Every aspect of the project will be controlled by these documents and the contractor’s work will be judged by them. The contract documents are how the architect and engineer communicate the design to the contractor.

·       Drawings – outline the QUANTITY of work
·       Project Manual – explain the QUALITY of work

Early in his or her career, the estimator must have a full understanding of the contract documents. The contract documents are binding documents between an owner and the contractor. Every estimator must become very familiar with these documents and how to interrupt them. The estimator must

When someone refers to the plans and specs, they are referring to the drawings and the project manual.

Drawings = “Plans” Project Manual = “Specs”
  •  Life Safety
  • Phasing
  • Geotechnical
  • Civil
  • Landscape
  • Structural
  • Demolition
  • Architectural
  • Plumbing
  • Process
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Telecommunications
  • Advertisement for Bids
  • Instructions to Bidders – ITB
  • Bid Form(s)
  • Agreement or contract
  • Bid Bond
  • Performance Bond
  • Value Engineering Cost Savings
  • Sub-Contractor Listing
  • Major Equipment Manufactures
  • General Conditions
  • Supplemental Conditions
  • Special Conditions
  • Technical Specifications

The drawings and the project manual should specify all materials and installation methods and standards for a project.

The estimator must have the ability to identify portions of the contract documents that are incomplete. When these documents are incomplete, the contractor’s risk will increase. One of the main responsibilities of the estimator is identifying project risks.

The wise estimator will seek clarification on omissions in the documents prior to bidding the project.

Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, but quality estimating is profitable.