What’s the Deal with Your Drawings?

As an estimating firm and consultant to contractors throughout the United States and Canada, we hear many issues that contractors are facing. A topic we’ve heard contractors discuss more often than ever before is the headache of receiving incomplete or incorrect drawings from Engineers. We’ve heard it all… The specs don’t match the plans. The plans are not to scale. Material requirements have been completely left out. Missing drawings for part of the project. Addendum drawings are not bubbled. Recently one of our professional estimators was working on a hospital project and noticed the engineer called for a 200amp feeder that was fed with #1 wire which is only rated for 100 amps. The estimator re-engineered that feeder based on the load requirements of the panel and did the calculations to resize that feeder and qualify the bid for the change. The GC was then made aware of the issue as well. We all know the estimating process takes a huge chunk out of your already busy schedule, so adding drawings that seem more like a puzzle to can be a huge headache. Not to mention, you can lose a lot of time trying to communicate with the engineers and architects trying to piece together missing or inaccurate information. So, what’s the solution here? Estimators MUST be knowledgeable in regards to the National Electric Code and be able to identify issues that aren’t always so blatantly obvious. Contractors can use past projects in similar scope to review and compare the blueprints. This will help to recognize material and design needs for the job. A plan discrepancy can be handled by:

    • Making the GC aware of the changes needed and waiting for a possible addendum to be issued. It is very important to make the GC aware of why your number may be higher than your competitors if circumstances arise that increase your bid number.
    • Adding the necessary changes to your contract & proposal (write in bid qualifiers)
    • Securing the project for plans & spec bid and submit a change order later on. Make sure the contract does not contain a per NEC™ clause so you are not responsible for engineering errors – this could trump a change order and make you responsible for the error

What happens if you don’t catch on to any issues on the drawings?

    • The contractors competitors may make the necessary changes and be deemed to have higher expertise and become a favorable contractor to the GC.
    • The bid number could be WAY off and cost the contractor hundreds if not thousands.

In summary, the architect and engineer are following design standards that will not necessarily be well communicated on black and white drawings. The estimator must be knowledgeable enough to request information and qualify the bid to best identify the work to be performed.

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