Skip to main content

Value Engineering Feeders

In today's construction market, you need every advantage you can get.  I'm sure many of you know that engineered feeder schedules are usually more than is required for the power requirements of each panel, but in this case more is not better.  There is nothing to be gained by over-sizing the feeder conductors for a panel.  I know what you're thinking.   This gives the customer room for future expansion, right?  Wrong!  Room for future expansion should only be done by sizing the panel itself, not the feeders. One of the secrets to IntelliBid's success are the feeder assemblies.  These assemblies are specifically sized per the NEC and reviewed every 3 years to make sure they comply to all code changes. 

Go ahead and check them out.  FEEDER ASMY BY AMPS in the 06. FEEDERS library.  Compare the size of the conduit and conductors to that of an engineered feeder schedule.  You'll see very quickly how much of an edge you can get with these assemblies.    If you need code references to backup the sizes, just e-mail [email protected] and request the code reference backup for a specific feeder. 

Just make sure you qualify that feeders were value engineered to meet minimum NEC requirements. 


Beware of the Micromanaging PM / Foreman

While you, as the estimator, can value engineer a job and spot mistakes for change orders with the best of them, you can still lose money due to the management practices of your Project Manager or Job Foreman. You need to communicate your vision of the job with the people that will lead the electricians wiring the job.  If you're not on the same page your company can lose a lot of money very quickly.

Long ago when I was just an apprentice, I worked for several good companies with good managers.   Jobs were properly supplied, manned and managed.  Then I got a new job and met my first micro-manager PM.  The company was awarded a job for 25 spec homes.  These were small, 2 bedroom, 1 floor houses with the bare minimum of everything.  To make money on these houses we needed to be in and out as quickly as possible.

While he supplied the job properly, he demanded that he mark out the locations of all the receptacles and the circuit numbers for each.  Both electricians would be forced to sit and wait while he marked everything out for them. 

The result?  What was supposed to be a one-day in and out rough turned into a two day project.  That's 16 extra hours of labor for the electricians plus the added cost to pay the PM for his time to mark out the circuit layout. 

I wonder what happened to that guy every time I drive by the empty lot that used to be the offices for that company. 

What can be learned here?   Hire the best people and let them do their job. 



Getting the right item pricing

One of the biggest problems electrical contractors face today is getting correct pricing for their estimates.  There's still a resistance from suppliers to privide real and accurate pricing.  I understand they want to stop contractors from shopping their prices, but this hampers our ability to bid jobs competitivly and with confidence. 

Many supply houses will provide you with a pricing matrix in file format that can be imported into IntelliBid, but I find the prices can still be a little off.  IntelliBid has a few methods to help you get your pricing razor sharp. 

One of my favorite little hidden features is "Update Vendor Pricing" located in Summary.  In summary you can see the totals for all your items and you can edit the pricing.   Clicking the "M-Result" column twice will put the largest dollar items to the top of the list.  Get on the phone and negotiate those items with each of your supply houses and then just edit the new price right there in summary in the Mat-Unit field.  When you're finished, click "Update Vendor Pricing".   The new prices will be transferred to the database only in the vendor you have selected.  Just one word of warning, apply each vendor's pricing before changing to another vendor.  You don't want to lose all the work you did.  A good way of testing the results is to recalcuate your takeoff with 'Update User Defined (Red) Values' set to 'YES'.    The red values should turn black but the actual numbers shouldn't change. 

Sometimes a supply house will give you a special price on particular items and guarantee that price for a period of time.   To lock this price for IntelliBid, go to Maintenance - Items, find the item, set the vendor price for the vendor and then scroll to the right until you see the 'Update Vendor' checkbox.  Just uncheck that box and the vendor price won't change due to price updates or imports.  Just don't forget to review that item's price when that time period expires.

Once you have several vendors setup with pricing, you can use the 'Best Buy' feature to see who has the lowest price for each item in your job.  The Best Buy report will provide you a list of materials to purchase from each vendor.  What I've noticed over the years is that some vendors will get you with a very low price on some items and then stick it to you with something else.  This is especially true at the big box stores.  Panels and breakers have a good price while they get you with the screws, connectors and staples.   Best Buy is your best friend to avoid this practice.

A report we just added to IntelliBid, "Vendor Comparison" will show each item and the price each of your vendors has for it.  Very helpful for a visual of who might have a mistake in the pricing.






Most of the IntelliBid old timers know me very well, but if you've started estimating with ConEst IntelliBid software only within the last 5-7 years, you may not.  I've been with ConEst since before it was ConEst.  I started working with George Hague in the summer of 1989.  He took me under his wing and taught me his philosophy of electrical estimating and I've been with him ever since in one capacity or another.

I am a licensed master electrician in the great state of New Hampshire.   I attended vocational technical colleges in Manchester and Nashua NH and worked for several contractors during my apprenticeship.  I've attended classes and workshops to develop my skills in the computer / software world and currently working towards a business administration degree. 

Over the years I've spoken with literally thousands of estimators, owners, contractors, vendors, manufacturers and representatives and I found something to learn from each and every one of them.  I've taken what I've learned and applied it to my career here at ConEst Software Systems to make IntelliBid the most powerful, reliable, and useful tool in your estimating arsenal. 

The one thing I can tell you, after everything I've learned, is that I will never know everything.   The electrical industry is constantly changing.  Even more than the NEC Changes every 3 years, the products, installation methods, pricing, business practices, laws, and requirements are in a constant state of evolution. 

I've started this blog in the hope that I can document important industry trends as well as helpful ways to deal with them using the IntelliBid software.  Most users I've spoken with only use a small portion of the power of the system that's available to them.  Every week I hope to post information about a different subject.  Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments or to let me know what you'd like me to talk about in the future.  I don't consider myself an expert but I do know how and where to get the information needed to get the job done. 

I'm looking forward to an enjoyable and valuable exchange of information and ideas where we all may benefit.

-Allan Goodwin

Director of Quality Assurance

ConEst Software Systems


Post New blog message

Blog Settings

Write Fans

0 Monthly views:
112 total views




About this Blog


IntelliBid.NET Estimating and usage information.

Fans: 1

» Become a fan
» Invite others
» Leave fan club


Tell a Friend

Return to Blogs home