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Q for those that bid by opening,

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    Q for those that bid by opening,

    If you charge “by the opening” I assume that means (includes) trim out?

    Do you have a different price for light openings where the customer furnishes the fixture versus receptacle and switch openings?

    What about switch openings that are dimmers Or fan speed controls?

    Tell me if I’m wrong;
    If I was to use this process,
    - I would have 2 “per opening” prices, one for receptacles and switches, and another for lights that owner provides fixture.
    - I would add X amount for dimmers and speed controls.
    - I would add on for bath exhaust fans.
    - I would have home-run prices, based on circuit size and type (AFCI, etc)
    - All this would not include the service. That would be a separate deal based on size.

    Im just trying to get a handle on how most people do this form of estimate.


    I use a spreadsheet I developed when I did more than 1 home a year. It worked for me when I did the homes personally. I don't do spec homes.

    I lay out the electrical and count each receptacle, single pole, three way, and four way. I supply recessed cans, trim and bath vent/light/heat depending on what is in the rooms. Two gang and three gang boxes are counted. I count typical wall and ceiling fixture openings. Fixtures are not included but I will give an estimate if they want it included for bank purposes. Each major appliance has a base charge plus footage. CBs are accumulated as the openings and appliances are counted, as are GFCI devices. I know from previous record keeping how many feet of 12/2, 14/2 and 14/3 is needed. Staples, wire connectors etc are also accounted for along with the labor hours. The total costs, overhead and desired profit for these openings are added, then divided by the # of openings to arrive at that particular customers price per opening. Underground service is different than overhead but all of it is included in the Service entrance fee.

    I do not care to, or depend on houses to make a living. I would rather dig ditch.

    eta: Ceiling fans count as two openings. Dimmers, speed controls and similar are additional cost.


      I would not charge less for lighting outlets; the increased labor covers the no-device saving. Switches and receptacles included, dimmers, etc., are extra, as with any light I supply, even bulbs. Major circuits are more, but few enough to count individually.
      Master Electrician
      Electrical Contractor
      Richmond, VA


        I have a 'per opening' price depending on what the opening is for. SP switch, 3way, 4way, ceiling light, fan, bath exhaust, smoke etc. A GFCI in the kitchen will be more than a simple duplex in the living room. Each one has a calculated price based on current commodity prices and labor units based on historical benchmarking,


          Screenshot from take-off report on a recent job......

          Couple of notes, first pic that shows fixtures is install cost only. Last pic shows fixture cost to customer.

          USB recep is just a regular type A; fast charging type C are about $15 more.

          “C4” switches shown are install cost only; Control4 components priced separately.

          Also appliance distance from panel is measured and calculated in cost. So for a standard recep i just use 30’ of cable per device. On appliances it’s calculated with actually how much will be used.

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            Thanks for the responses!
            definitely give me info to mull around in my mind as I steer towards this type of estimating.


              Would you install all ceiling boxes as 'fan' boxes, just in case the owner would change out a lamp for a fan?

              What are the weight limits for a non-fan box? There are some rather elaborate ceiling fixtures available! Better put the fan box in, instead of a call back for a dangling fixture box!


                My original goal in this mental exercise was to be able to come up with an overall "average" price per opening, thinking that I could do a walk-thru of a project (in-person or on paper) and quickly come up with an estimate.

                As I play around with the numbers I'm finding that there's too many variables to just come up with 1 number per opening. I find myself falling back to creating "assemblies" for given openings that vary quite a bit on material and labor costs.

                I've had my business for about 3 years now. I find estimating to be the most challenging part of my business. I don't normally work on whole house new construction except for add-ons (which don't really count since the service is already in).

                Besides service work and small to medium commercial projects I tend to get pulled into a fair number of reno's. I tend to not do bids on those because of too many unknowns.

                I'll do bids on smaller tasks, like adding a baseboard heat circuit, where I feel like it's pretty straightforward with minimal unknowns.

                I'm starting to think that bidding by opening is similar to bidding by sq. foot. because of variables.
                I Imagine looking at a bid that is based on assemblies, and then calculating out the per opening price just to check yourself is probably useful, similar to checking your per sq ft price (if you do a lot of houses regularly).
                Last edited by sw_ross; 10-11-19, 07:24 PM.


                  I suppose one could count up all the openings on past bids,and divide it by the total bid $....~RJ~


                    Originally posted by romex jockey View Post
                    I suppose one could count up all the openings on past bids,and divide it by the total bid $....~RJ~
                    Agreed!... My concern is that I (my business) don't do a lot of bidding of new home construction so I don't have much of a database. I have done a lot of new home construction while working for others before I went out on my own, so I'm comfortable with knowing, material-wise, what is needed.

                    Because of the type of work I find myself getting pulled into (remodels, makeovers, add-ons, upgrades, etc) I end up doing a lot of T&M, and estimating ($ amount based on not running into issues), not actual "hard" bids.


                      if you're just doing basic spec homes, where you are only using basic devices, a per opening price could work.

                      in my case, its all custom homes, and I have a long list of device types; duplex receps, USB-A charging, USB-C charging, wireless charging receps, various types of lighting controls, various types of recessed lighting, etc... So I have a price per each type of device. I would say its better now to go ahead and start building your assemblies; it doesn't take long at all once you're finished with them to do a thorough take-off.

                      Most all of the houses I work on use some sort of lighting control system, and that drives the price up quite a bit. Ceiling types can greatly affect my labor costs; for example in that job of the screenshot I posted above, they decided to do a coffered ceiling in the living area. It took me a few hours to measure all of the framing (20' ceiling btw), create a CAD drawing of it, create CAD blocks of the recessed fixtures, then draw a layout with measurements of how each fixture had to be positioned to be centered in each tray, along providing measurements to the builder of how to make the ceiling so everything fit nicely. That added about $1500 to the bill for the time to create this....

                      Click image for larger version

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