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Four Reasons Electrical Contractors Should Be Using Electrical Industry Takeoff Software

Gather ‘round, electrical contractors, and hear my story.

Recently, I installed an electric boiler in my home, replacing a failing gas boiler. The unit powers a hydronic heat system, giving us warm floors throughout. I’m a fairly handy guy — but not an electrician — so this was a challenging, although not out-of-my-league project. I’m sharing this story because my experience on such a relatively small project is undoubtedly magnified for electrical contractors throughout the country. My project was held up for over a week while I waited for a single, 60-amp breaker.

Home Depot didn’t have them in stock, nor did Lowe’s. Nor did the hardware store in town or the wholesale supplier in the next town over. Three online retailers were also out of stock. I finally found one at a fourth eCommerce electrical supply house, dropped it in my shopping cart and raced through the checkout. Since my project was already off schedule, and my feet were getting cold, I paid twice the cost of the breaker to get it shipped overnight. The following day, I received an email from the supply house that they too were out of stock. They offered me a “refurbished” unit in its place, which I frustratingly accepted. I’ll let you know how that works out…

The point of my long-winded story is that if I’m experiencing shortages and delays like this, electrical contractors must be too — magnified exponentially — which makes accurate takeoff imperative. Whatcha gonna do if a single breaker stands between you and project completion?

Four reasons electrical onscreen takeoff software is the conduit to accurate estimates

  1. Assemblies ensure nothing is missed
    Electrical work is notorious for having lots of little bits and parts. A good electrical contractor takeoff and estimating software will allow you to create and maintain assemblies — simply material lists of parts required to assemble things like receptacles, switches, panels, dryers, smoke detectors, and so on. Not only are assemblies a time saver, but they also help ensure nothing is missed during the takeoff, resulting in a more accurate estimate.
  2. Branch wiring requires accuracy
    Branch wiring, the conduit and wire one inch and less, often makes up 60% to 80% of an estimate. An element that carries that much weight can make the difference between making and losing money on a bid, so it’s vital to get an accurate takeoff. Most estimators hate estimating branch wiring and often default to using averages. While you might be able to get by using averages, electrical takeoff software allows you to perform even complex calculations quickly and accurately, so you can ditch the averages and rely on actuals.
  3. Counting is drudgery
    Electronic takeoff software can eliminate the need to hand count items like switches and smoke detectors by using technology called pattern search and auto count. It’s just what it sounds like — you show the software a pattern you want to count, and it does its best. However, as we shared in this article on pattern searches and auto counts, the functionality varies greatly across applications. Many applications require an estimator to perform some extensive QC before gaining confidence in the numbers, which erases much of the efficiency.
  4. Long lead times can wreak havoc
    As my long-winded story illustrated, the want of a single item can wreak havoc with a schedule and therefore a project’s profitability. Given the current supply chain disruptions, it’s imperative for electrical contractors to accurately identify long-lead time items during the initial takeoff process. Early identification allows contractors to place orders early on, ensuring the project moves along at pace.

Energizing estimates Faster and more accurate electrical project estimates are rooted in accurate takeoffs. And faster and more accurate takeoffs come from using electronic takeoff applications. For example, eTakeoff Dimension uses SnapAI, an Artificial Intelligence feature that can cut takeoff time by 50% — while improving the accuracy of the estimates. We invite you to start a 15-day free trial to explore how the solution can work for you.