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    Frustrated about bidding vs T&M...

    I have a job, in a commercial laundry facility that serves a couple of hotels. It started out with just a bid to run a new circuit for a new commercial dryer. All their appliances are 3phase, 240v. Not huge loads, most of the appliances operate on propane. The washers are about 10 amps, and the dryers are about 8 amps.

    Problem is the panel is a small mlo with a back fed 70 amp breaker as the main. That leaves space for 5 more 3-pole breakers. They currently have 9 appliances (and want to add 1 more!). So I’m trying to figure out what they have going on there so I take the cover off the 3-phase panel (they also have a small single phase panel for smaller loads). It turns out most of the breakers are double tapped, one is even triple tapped!

    Not only that but most of the breakers are 40, 50, or 60 amp breakers (with #12’s!) So instantly my bid turns into a service upgrade for their 3-phase panel! And the manager knows it. He understands what I’m telling him about how bad the setup is. So he says to give him a number.

    I spend nearly 3 hours mapping out the place to get a better understanding of what the issues are and my list of things that are acceptable is short compared to my list of code issues!

    How the heck does a person even start working on a bid for a job like this?! I’m a little overwhelmed with where to start. What steps would you take to start bidding a job like this?
    I know that T&M won’t be acceptable for them. I could maybe bid a portion of the job (like the service upgrade and wiring up the new dryer) and then leave the rest of code violations for T&M...? But not sure if they’d go for that.

    They’re a good customer that I want to keep, they keep me pretty busy throughout the year. I don’t want to just throw out a number that either screws them, or me, over depending on how the job goes.

    Thanks for any advice!

    #2
    In short, figure out the entire scope of work. What the customer wants, what the customer needs, what upgrades or changes are needed to accomplish this, and what existing code violations must be corrected.

    Next would be a load calculation.

    After you have clearly defined your scope of work, then you can figure out a materials list, and the time it will take to install everything. Whether you do that manually or with estimating software is up to you.

    After that, I would figure in when this work can be done... If it would have to be done at night or on weekends, it will cost more. If you have to hire temporary help, that's going to cost more. Figuring all your expenses, overhead, profit, permit fees, etcetera.

    From your description, they need at least a 30 Space 3 phase panel just for the washers and dryers, 33 if you retain a main lug only panel with the back fed breaker. Because other loads come from this panel, and there are double and triple lugged Breakers, you will probably want at least a standard 42 space panel. Although one can apply demand factors for multiple washers and dryers, is likely a commercial facility like this can have all machines in operation at one time. The existing feeder may be inadequate.

    The existing sub panel is probably smaller than what you will be replacing it with... Need to figure in time in moving and cutting back the existing MC or EMT... The latter will take longer, especially if the conduits are coming in more than just the top or bottom.

    If you are under the 2017 NEC, I believe that 210.8 will require all of those circuits to be GFCI protected if cord and plug connected. That is a considerable material expense over standard 3 phase breakers... I think the SQ-D part number is QO320GFI. And if I recall correctly they were about $600 a piece. If the machines are cord and plug connected, it would be cheaper to hardwire them all than to spend 6 grand just on breakers.

    I mention the above because it would probably put you deep in the red to have to spend money on the breakers after the fact, or spend probably the better part of two days unbid and unpaid for labor hardwiring all the equipment.

    Eta: looking at a code map of the United States, it appears that North Dakota is in fact on the 2017 NEC.
    Last edited by JFletcher; 12-06-18, 02:21 AM.
    Electricians do it until it Hertz!

    Comment


      #3
      Yes, 2017

      JFletcher, you pointed out excellent points. Thanks!

      We are on 2017, and yes I am aware of the GFCI code change (dealt with it on another job). These are all hard wired with disconnects by the machines, although some work will need to be done cleaning thing up at each existing machine.

      I agree with what you said about defining the scope of work, making material lists, and estimating time to accomplish said tasks.

      I did a general load Calc for the existing 3-phase loads plus the new dryer that came out to 105 amps at continuous duty. So I'm thinking a 200 amp service for additional future possible loads. Like you said, space wise, with existing appliances (9) plus the additional dryer I'll need 30 space just to get going. I did call the supply house yesterday to get a price on the Siemens 200 amp 42 space panel ($600) and 15 & 20 amp breakers (~$70)

      I think I'm to the point where I need to sharpen the pencil, and warm up the eraser, and start the material list,anticipated time for each task, etc.

      I have a bidding software, but it seems geared towards more new construction projects. I started using it last night but soon got frustrated. As I've thought about it overnight I think manually breaking down the job into individual components and basically compiling an estimate for each component is going to be easier.

      One of my major concerns is a variety of existing visual code violations that I know the inspector will see when he steps into the building. As far as I've seen these mostly involve EMT that isn't properly supported, and j-boxes that aren't supported (except by the EMT). A lot of this stuff is on the single phase side of the service. I am going to have to have a conversation with the inspector to make sure that we're on the same page about if I'm responsible for that stuff. I really don't want this to turn into a total re-wire of the building, although a clean slate to work with sounds appealing.

      My other concern is the hidden, not visible, code violations that I'm sure I will encounter while working there, and how to account for the unknowns in your bid. Do you add a number into your bid ($1k, $2k, ...?) to account for this? Or do you do it T&M piecemeal as you encounter issues?

      My initial thought is to state out a scope of work, bid everything that's known and visible, then do T&M for the unknowns...

      Sorry about the long post! This is coming from someone who's been in business for 1 1/2 years and find this type of bidding process as overwhelming! I do a lot of T&M work for this type of stuff, but they need to know a number for budgeting purposes, which I totally understand. Like I said they're a good customer that I want to treat fairly and not lose because I throw out a stupid number that is crazy high!

      Comment


        #4
        Pic of panel

        Not sure why my pics always turn out sideways!
        But anyways, here's a pic of the existing panel.

        You can see the 3 breakers that are double-tapped. The older wire on the breaker is larger (#8 and#6), the newer wire is #12. The breakers are 40, 50, and 60 amp breakers. The 60-amp breaker feeds 2 discos, one of those discos is tapped again on it's line to feed and additional disco. So that 60-amp breaker is feeding 3 appliances, that are rated around 7-10 amps each.

        Most of the discos are fused, but I saw only one that had a proper sized fuse.

        My guess is originally, when they first started using 3-phase in this building they started out with a few pieces equipment that was electric (hence the larger wire and breakers), but then transitioned over to propane which dropped the individual appliance load down quite a bit so they could add more appliances without changing out the service, but sent them down a road of lack of panel space for new loads and double-tapped breakers.

        Click image for larger version

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        Comment


          #5
          Do not give a detailed list! If you do they will shop your idea out to others.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by sw_ross View Post

            I agree with what you said about defining the scope of work, making material lists, and estimating time to accomplish said tasks.
            My initial thought is to state out a scope of work, bid everything that's known and visible, then do T&M for the unknowns...
            Originally posted by sameguy View Post
            Do not give a detailed list! If you do they will shop your idea out to others.
            You do need to put some kind of parameters on the work that you will do for a certain amount of money.

            If you do give details and they shop the job then you know the other company is probably bidding the same job.
            The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by sameguy View Post
              Do not give a detailed list! If you do they will shop your idea out to others.
              ^^^^^Absolutely this!! You've already sunk considerable time into the project which you may or may not be able to recover in your quote (for God's sake don't make it a line item, just bury it). Keep it to the bare bones of what needs doing. Keep the means and methods entirely to yourself. You can just refer to code sections to document the violations and justify the work. Don't answer any "How are you going to do that" questions, except to politely indicate that "that" will be done in a code compliant manner.

              Comment


                #8
                Do not give a detailed list! If you do they will shop your idea out to others.
                Yes....but give a detailed scope of work on what is included and excluded

                I think manually breaking down the job into individual components and basically compiling an estimate for each component is going to be easier.
                You will be way high if you do this...

                Comment


                  #9
                  Good advice! Thanks. I’ll keep my paperwork to myself and just outline the project and numbers to them in our next meeting.

                  I’m still contemplating how to handle some of the unknowns. Whether I just add a number to my bid and hope it covers the unknowns or whether I specify a T&M for unanticipated items.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by gadfly56 View Post
                    ^^^^^Absolutely this!! You've already sunk considerable time into the project which you may or may not be able to recover in your quote (for God's sake don't make it a line item, just bury it). Keep it to the bare bones of what needs doing. Keep the means and methods entirely to yourself. You can just refer to code sections to document the violations and justify the work. Don't answer any "How are you going to do that" questions, except to politely indicate that "that" will be done in a code compliant manner.
                    Good advice about code sections! I’ll include some related to conduit support code articles to help justify just how bad some of the issues are.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Yes, T&M, now would be a good time to massage in "your" T&M pricing for when they come back and say lower. You set the bar and let them counter. Who can approve the T&M.
                      Of course you need to give them a scope of work, just not a billing break down.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by sameguy View Post
                        Do not give a detailed list! If you do they will shop your idea out to others.
                        ^^^^word!!!
                        &&&&.....

                        One can't bid reno's w/o x-ray eyes

                        ~RJ~

                        Comment


                          #13
                          The supervisor that I looked over the job with is fairly knowledgeable. I'm confident that if I gave him a number and general scope of work that he felt was fair he would approve it with his higher-ups consent.

                          He already knew things were not kosher at this facility. He's been with the organization for about 3 years so he wasn't involved in any of the existing issues. He realizes that the service needs upgrading.

                          This organization owns several hotels and other businesses in the community. The laundry facility serves all their laundering needs.

                          They keep me pretty busy with a lot of service calls and small to medium size jobs so I want to make this thing happen

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Just a few things more...

                            Your price on the panel is for a MCB panel. Square D qo that I looked up was about the same. A MLO panel is about $250.

                            Looking at the way the conduits come into the panel, I would be inclined to leave it in place (or turn it into a junction box) and feed another panel from the existing, if you have space. The feeder coming in the back of the panel like it does is going to be more difficult to work around if installing a new, larger panel in the old ones place.

                            Moving and cutting all of that EMT would be a huge amount of labor for me. there are no conduits coming into the side of the panel, however I do not know what is out of frame... installing a new panel next to the old and nippling into it would save a ton of time and make your bid that much more competitive.

                            The conduit fill on the feeder looks pretty tight already, though at least they are aluminum conductors... You can pull them out and rerun copper if you need more ampacity. If you can reuse them, you're going to have to budget in some Polaris connectors to extend them to your new panel

                            As for the existing fused disconnects, some of those may be in rough shape internally. I would hazard a guess that the ones that are line side tapped to feed other machines probably have violations with number of conductors under a lug. If you are going with all 15 and 20 amp breakers and individual circuits, it may be better to rip all of that out and just put in non fused disconnects. If machines are within sight of panel (or not), I don't even think they are required... I would definitely research that if in your shoes.

                            Like others have written, definitely do not give them a line by line on what you are doing.

                            Eta: as far as the code violations like improperly supported boxes and EMT, I would spend an hour or so on the Erico/Caddy website looking at all of the different types of fasteners that they carry. a little clip that you can slide up behind the conduit and then drill into a block wall is going to be much faster then cutting pieces of Unistrut and attaching the ENT or boxes to it like you might in new construction
                            Last edited by JFletcher; 12-06-18, 04:17 PM.
                            Electricians do it until it Hertz!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Where

                              Where does 210-8 say it applies to a commercial laundry?

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