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Thread: New Contractor!!! Bidding software Questions!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
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    Silverthorne
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    New Contractor!!! Bidding software Questions!!

    Howdy from Colorado, What is a good bidding estimating software you guys use??
    Cheap vs expensive benefits?
    Need to find something FAST!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Tampa, FL, USA
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    Congrats on being a new contractor. Are you new to bidding also? Estimating software is not a magic bullet. If you haven't done estimating manually, the software can get you in real trouble. You won't be able to tell if it's spitting out crazy numbers. Crazy too high you'll only lose a bid. Crazy too low, you can lose your shirt.

  3. #3
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    Sep 2018
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    Silverthorne
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coppersmith View Post
    Congrats on being a new contractor. Are you new to bidding also? Estimating software is not a magic bullet. If you haven't done estimating manually, the software can get you in real trouble. You won't be able to tell if it's spitting out crazy numbers. Crazy too high you'll only lose a bid. Crazy too low, you can lose your shirt.
    First off thanks for responding. I really appreciate any advice you've had over the years and hope one day i can do the same for others. Love the mike holt cult, first ever electrical book i owned was his.


    Well, i just landed a few jobs to bid and i really need to be the best i can be , I've been pretty small time since i started, as in time and material jobs, service work...

    I don't plan on having more than 3 emploeeys at the momment and I'm focused on residential custom homes in the 30k-50k$ electrical cost.

    is software right for me? Im far from lazy just know human error is a factor.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Ocala, Florida, USA
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    2,760
    Quote Originally Posted by Peak1Electric View Post
    First off thanks for responding. I really appreciate any advice you've had over the years and hope one day i can do the same for others. Love the mike holt cult, first ever electrical book i owned was his.


    Well, i just landed a few jobs to bid and i really need to be the best i can be , I've been pretty small time since i started, as in time and material jobs, service work...

    I don't plan on having more than 3 emploeeys at the momment and I'm focused on residential custom homes in the 30k-50k$ electrical cost.

    is software right for me? Im far from lazy just know human error is a factor.
    I am a commercial estimator, but I understand the principles of estimating residential. Honestly, the estimating program isn't going to do you a lot of good for things like audio/tv systems installation, etc. As someone said, you need to have experience estimating before you trust an estimating program, or be very meticulous when you first start to analyze. I have no formal training, but here are a few things I have figured out over time, that I believe to be true.

    The biggest strength of an estimating program is it allows you to dial in more minute changes. I can easily think for myself that for example, since I get 6.5 hours of work out of an 8 hour day, first I need to allow for a 1.3 (8/6) factor. So it takes 8 minutes to layout and nail on a device box 15 minutes to run 25 feet of romex, 3 minutes to make up the box, 13 minutes to install a receptacle and cover for a total of 39 minutes time 1.3 for lost time plus a little fudge for clean up, so lets say 41 minutes. multiply that by your labor rate add the cost of your material, plus your markup and a receptacle may cost say $52 each, You can use that all day long as a unit price.

    With an estimating program you have all of those items in the an assembly you probably have to build some yourself. Anyway, it spits this out, but if you have a change in labor rate, or material cost you change it and the assembly cost along with all the others automatically changes. Also, say you find a house where you need to install receptacle at an exact location requiring boxes with a span bracket. You can just change you box to the new including a new time for labor and cost for the box. And you are there.

    So, an estimating program certainly will improve your accuracy and allow you to dial in your estimates when every penny counts in a bid, however, they aren't a magic cure. Initially you may spend more time on the software than just using the seat of your pants to price something. Especially if you have already done some of the above thinking. If I were in a situation as you describe, I would likely just do what I had to to get the immediate prices out and then shop for an estimating program. I can't recommend, because again, residential is very different than commercial. The biggest thing you are paying for in an estimating program is the database and the ease of changing assemblies. My personal opinion having tried three or four different estimating programs is any of them are exactly as good as the time you spend on them.


    I know what I don't know, and I know where to go to find it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    1,331
    You can make your own with MS Excel or just paper and pencil.
    Categories:
    Service-
    Overhead
    Underground
    100/150/200a
    Duplex
    Parts, straps, screws, ...
    Hours

    Rough-
    Wire
    14/12/10/8/6awg
    Boxes 1/2/3/4/gang
    Fans
    Parts staples, wirenuts, tape, ...
    Hours

    Trim-
    Device
    Switch, plugs, range, dryer,
    Fans, breakers, ...
    Hours

    Tools ~% of total job (2%) you will wear out bits, pliers, generator

    Overhead ****!
    Profit
    It takes time but an auto program would need you to think and fill in all the blanks too!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Parker CO
    Posts
    15

    resi bids

    Hey there, so im not the best expert but heres what i do- I am also in colorado but down in denver. So bidding cost for track homes varies from $3.7-4.10 sq ft competitively. Custom homes vary depending on amount of openings and crazy awesome, i mean tough, upgrades. I have found $7 sq/ft works for the customs down here.
    My first custom 3 years ago i lost my A$$ on by bidding it at $4.5 I will no longer "do a favor" or be "Competitive". If someone else is willing to do the work for cheaper-let them. There is so much work in Colorado right now I quit being enamored by the draw of big homes. I say all this because typically in the Mtns, most homes are big.
    I also cross check my price per sq ft with a per opening cost like 65 or 70 per opening, and a price per sq/ft is before material is added in. Also remember your supply house trips up to Frisco or nearest supply place.
    The home i lost big on had switches galore and over 100 can lights in a 5k sq ft home. so if you price that home at 4.5 sq/ft you get $22,500. I spent over $35k on that home. I made the mistake too of letting homeowner buy material elsewhere bc he said he could get it cheaper. Our profit comes from the 10-15% mark-up on material, so I lost that. I would specify how many walk thrus and changes are allowed after rough-in. After rough-in it is service call pricing to change anything.

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