Design-Build | Electrical Estimating by Electrical Enlightenment


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January 11, 2016

Design-build for the electrical contractor is a construction process where a construction manager (CM) or general construction company (GC) takes on the scope of architect and engineer. This is not to say that actual architects and or engineers are not part of the design team. In many cases they are, but at a reduced cost to the owner. The idea is to take advantage of skills and construction knowledge of the CM or GC to save design costs through the use of known construction methods and means.

The owner provides the construction parameters in a written narrative of the project. The narrative provides style, square foot requirements, required room needs, finishes and other design wishes. In concert with the design team a rough scope of the building or space is developed in a schematic sense to give a rendering of the owner’s needs.

Estimating at these very low levels of design creates a very complicated and challenging portion of business for the electrical contractor. The electrical contractor in effect becomes the engineer and must be able to visualize the needs of the project and provide a cost level that reflects the needs for construction. In many cases the electrical contractor and other trade contractors are busy with day to day responsibilities or complete projects that are ready to estimate. They do not have the time or staff to invest and provide unrealistic square foot pricing, which may result in the electrical contractor ignoring the request altogether.

The contractor that understands design and can develop scope with little to go on can be very successful with design-build projects by following a few simple self-directives.

First, make sure you want to invest in the project. Second, secure the job through a contract. Third, try to avoid need for outside bidding. Fourth, negotiate a cost for design and costing time. Fifth, get help from a costing/estimating firm.

Enlightenment Companies specializes in Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing, and Excavation estimating and utilizes over 15,000 jobs in its 17 years in business to provide accurate budget costing. The design using the narrative and directive of the design team Enlightenment Companies can provide schematic budgets to complete engineered plans for construction throughout the Unites States.

According to the Design-Build Institute of America, 70% of design-build contractors believe that design-build projects are more profitable than “traditional” projects. Integrated contractors expect 80% of their revenues to be from design-build projects in 10 years and 80% of all contractors surveyed predict an increase in the use of design-build over the next 5 years. (Zweigwhit’s 2004 Design Build Survey of Design & Construction Firms)

The design-build process allows construction to begin almost immediately after the project is awarded and as the initial design packages are completed rather than waiting until the entire project is completely designed. Being able to begin construction as phases of the project’s design are released means that those jobs are typically completed ahead of schedule and below budget… the perfect scenario for successful.

By Ron Soltis, Jr. - President, Enlightenment Companies

To learn more about our Design Build Services click here


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