Electrical Estimating Training for Real-World Results

With four successful electrical estimating training sessions under their belts, Linda and Marc Candels are ready to kick off 2019 with their fifth Electrical Estimating Training and Apprenticeship which starts on January 29.

The Candels Electrical Training Academy teaches the art and science of electrical estimating. The four-month session covers a wide range of topics as it dives into great detail about electrical estimating. The Candels team builds the foundation to each student’s estimating experience by thoroughly reviewing estimating theory. The estimator’s role, building construction types, labor units, material pricing, specification review, and drawing review are discussed in detail. All training is then be put into practice via student projects that will be completed during the semester. There is no other program around of its kind! In four months, each student should be able to function as a junior level estimator.

Vice President and co-owner Linda Candels says it’s fairly simple to get started in this field. With a background in marketing analysis and management, she applied her expertise of seeking similarities and differences to her new field: Electrical Estimating. Without any specific background in electrical estimating, Linda said, “All you need is aptitude and attitude. If students are engaged and participate in class, they can succeed.”

Linda’s 15-year electrical estimating career alongside her husband, co-owner and President Marc Candels speaks for itself. Linda and Marc take the business of estimating to heart – they’ve been in business for almost as long as they’ve been married. How many spouses can live and work together for more than a decade? They truly care about the industry and want the industry to move forward in a positive direction—and their Estimating Academy demonstrates this in spades.

The Candels estimating team welcomes all levels of estimators. “Company owners also participate. They know the business but realize they need that formal detailed training in estimating,” Linda said.

About the Classes

Classes are held online twice a week via live webinar. Instructors are available to answer questions during the webinar, plus the webinars are recorded for reference at any point in time.

Samantha Kosteck Nagy, a project manager and estimator with Hy-Power Electric Co., was thoroughly satisfied with the course. “For the amount of time this course lasted, it was perfect for me – not rushed. They provided a syllabus that we followed throughout the course, too. This helped keep all of us on track.” And in a somewhat male-dominated field, it’s refreshing to see more women make electrical estimating their career.

Additionally, the Candels team conducts unlimited one-on-one training outside of regular class hours. This is a major advantage to taking this specific training with the Candels.

Samantha took advantage of that. “One-on-one training with Linda was KEY. This was my favorite part of the course by far, and also for me, the most informative…this was so incredibly helpful.”

Butch Naumann agrees. Butch has been an estimator for 14 years and felt he was missing something. He utilized the one-on-one sessions several times. “Linda and Marc are phenomenal. Marc helped me with ConEst and PlanSwift and took the time to help me with other projects.” Butch is owner and employer of five at BN Electric & Communications in Pittsburgh, PA.

Linda and Marc Candels are highly invested in not only the industry but leading their students to a path of success. “We want to elevate the industry because people are bidding jobs below cost.” The Candels want to teach electrical estimators that when they see a low bid, they need to look at the true cost of a project.

Linda adds, “Consider the quality of work you’ll be getting, the experience, when you should walk away – no one ever tells them that stuff. We want to elevate the industry so projects are priced appropriately and estimators do not fall prey to low bids.”

Why Should I Take this Course?

Linda and Marc hold the unwavering belief: “Solid theory combined with practice. The more you learn, the more value you have to employers and yourself. It’s a relatively small investment for potential lifelong earning capacity.”

And Butch couldn’t agree more.

“Linda and Marc make it very easy and fun. Not only did I have them to go to, but I also had the classes to go back to [online]. Before I took the classes, I wasn’t bidding the type of bidding we’re doing now. The classes saved me so much time. It’s worth every dime. The software programs cut my estimating time and I’m able to bid more work more frequently. We have doubled the work we’ve bid and double our revenue.” Butch now plans to expand his business.

Samantha says, “We were able to contact Marc and Linda at any time to either help us prepare our bids, answer questions, or go over our bids. They were extremely flexible, accommodating and responsive. This course has provided me with more knowledge and tools to use. I am definitely in a better position after taking the course than I was prior to taking the course. I feel more confident and secure in my estimating capabilities…I accomplish more work in less time.”

Job Prospects

Employers look at real-world experience. Depending upon where you live, with the right training, electrical estimators can earn upwards of $250,000/year without an official college degree.

The right training and real-world experience will guide you to a path of success. And this is exactly what the Candels team provides.

Samantha sums it up well. “I would highly recommend this course. I have been in this industry for a long time and I have not come across a more extensive or thorough course.”

Want more details? See below and don’t miss out on this unique and fun opportunity.

Space is limited! Register now to secure your spot!

Specification Review Checklist


Specs explain the entire project.

Reviewing the specs is important to the estimating process.

When completing a construction specification review, an estimator should follow a systematic approach. The specifications, include information for each CSI division, however, none should be reviewed in isolation. Even though our focus is electrical, also known as CSI Division 26 (and previously Division 16), information related to the electrical specs will be shown in other sections and must be reviewed.

Why do we look at other specs sections other than electrical?

An untrained estimator may think that reviewing the electrical specs is enough. It’s not. A thorough construction specification review must include the “front end” of the specs (CSI Division 0 and CSI Division 1). This information includes the drawing list, Invitation to Bid, bid scopes, and summary of work. It may also include the project schedule, (Can you get it done it time with your team and tools?), walk through information (Often this in mandatory!), existing conditions, alternates, and allowances. This section also includes bonding information.

Never bid a job you cannot bond! Knowing your bonding capacity is important. Believe it or not, some contractors don’t know that there is an individual project amount bonding capacity, and an aggregate amount. The aggregate amount is the total dollar amount of all projects. If you have never bid a job with a bonding requirement, know that it takes time to get a bond. If you would like to work on projects requiring a bond, find a local agent and work on your bonding before you bid your project!

Before we move to reviewing the electrical specs, let’s talk about some other spec sections that are worthy of review.

In a previous blog post, I mentioned construction specification Divisions 10, 11, and 12 which detail specialty equipment and furnishings. The reason to review these specs is to determine if there is an electrical component with any of the equipment, and the requirements for the electrical contractor. You don’t need to spend hours reviewing these specs; it’s more like a quick review so you can watch out for these systems in the electrical specs and on the drawings.

Existing Conditions

It goes without saying that you want to know existing conditions. Will there be demo involved? Will the demo involve the removal of hazardous materials, such as ballasts containing PCB’s? If so, as an estimator, you want to be sure to cover the removal cost if it is part of your scope. Sometimes salvaged materials will be required to be returned to the owner so it is best to have this information before you bid the job.


Concrete is a related spec section to electrical because some electrical equipment will require the use of a concrete foundation, such as a transformer or generator pad. Pole lighting may require bases made of concrete. Know your scope. Sometimes another contractor is responsible for concrete work, all or in part.

Fire and Smoke Protection

Fire stopping is required on projects. Generally this is a boilerplate spec section, however, be aware of specialty devices that cost more than the norm. Some pathways cost hundreds of dollars, so it is best to give this area of the specs a quick review to be sure to cover the cost of potentially expensive items.

Building Modules

We have seen more modular building. As a matter of fact, yesterday I reviewed a job for a KFC. I did not realize that the building was going to be built in four sections at an offsite warehouse. The customer wanted a price for a “stick built” electrical estimate as well as an idea of what it might cost for the electrical including modular construction. We have also seen projects where a portion of the building is built offside. One such project was a hotel where only the bathrooms in certain areas of the building were modular. It’s good to know this up front because you may unknowingly cover the costs for lighting fixtures, receptacles and other devices that are part of the modular construction and therefore not in your scope! With the rising cost of labor, I would suspect that modular building will become more prevalent.

Heat Tracing

Heat tracing is one of those gray areas where it’s not always clear “who owns what.” It’s good to review the specs in this area to see if the electrical contractor will be providing the circuit for the heat trace only, or the cable as well. The same would apply to electric heating mats, snow melt, and the like. If you have a question about your scope of work and cannot find it in the project documentation or specs, always consult with the general contactor and/or issue a Request for Information (RFI).

Next time, we’ll discuss all the hidden gems in the electrical specifications!



Project Specification Manual

The project specification manual is also known as the specifications.

Always review the entire project specification manual!

You’ve heard me say this many times before. “The devil is in the details.” The project specification manual, also known simply as “the specs,” contains a lot of details! You will notice as you review Division 26, or the electrical specs, to refer to other construction specification sections. Always review those sections for related work and how that pertains to the electrical scope of work.

Division 00 is where it all begins!

An estimator should review Division 00, or the “front end docs” first. Review all project information here, such as alternates, allowances and special job conditions. Always refer to the construction specification index for all specification sections, so that you can easily review information that is pertinent.

Always review Division 10, 11, and 12, Specialties, Equipment and Furnishings!

Divisions 10 through 12 of the construction specification detail information about special equipment and furnishings. While the electrical contractor might not have to furnish these items, every project is different. Always review and never assume what you own and don’t own! In class today, we reviewed a rather extensive project’s construction specification. It included photoluminescent egress markings, exterior sun control devices, dock levelers, projection screens and motorized project lifts, and roller shades.

What are photoluminescent lights?

Photoluminescent egress markings have become much more prevalent because they mark the egress path when both normal and emergency power fails. They are not electrical and recharge with regular light. We have seen some projects where the electrical contractor provides and installs this lighting. However, on the project we reviewed, the specifications clearly stated that the items must be installed by a contractor having 10 years experience. That still doesn’t solve the mystery of whether the electrical contractor on this project had to furnish the lighting with installation being subbed out to a qualified contractor. Honestly, we discussed that the construction specification does not stand alone. Sometimes you have to get additional information from the drawings, and other contract documents. You never know where you will find that missing piece of the puzzle to answer your question.

Sometimes sun control devices are just awnings!

We determined that the exterior sun control devices were not motorized, so we moved on.

Dock levelers may or may not require additional devices to be provided by the electrical contractor.

The dock leveler was provided with a disconnect and the control switch, so we will look for the electrical requirements of this item when we start the take-off. I just finished a project on Friday that had a dock leveler and control switch, but the electrical contractor was responding for providing the “traffic” (red/green) light at the dock. Look for notes on the drawings for additional items that you have to provide! In this case, there was a lighting symbol shown and a part number, so we added this to our list of items that need a quote.

Projector screens and lifts often require control wiring provided by the electrical contractor.

Rarely, if ever, does the electrical contractor have to provide the projection screen or projector lifts, and that was the case here. We were more interested in determining the control conduits and wiring that would be provided by the electrical contractor. Again, more information regarding this was shown on the actual construction drawings.

Roller shades can be motorized and they might be hidden on the drawings!

Finally, roller shades are often a stealthy item! We did determine that the roller shades were motorized, so that we could look for the circuits on the electrical drawings. I cited an example in class of a recent project we completed in Massachusetts. The roller shades were not clearly marked but were shown as a dotted line around the perimeter of a large room. All that the drawings mentioned was a simple note. Upon further review and a subsequent RFI document that was issued, we determined that there were 51 shades! You never want to not cover the circuits and small equipment connections for 51 items!

The project specification manual review can be a daunting task! It does get easier with practice!

We warned our students that it would take us about 16 hours to review everything that you should know about the construction specification. So far, we have reviewed related sections to electrical, as referenced in the specs. Always review the entire spec, paying close attention to related construction specification sections!

Construction Addenda and Scope of Work

Candels uses the acronym “B.A.D.A.S.S” to remember the steps in construction estimating. The “A” represents addenda and the “S” represents scope of work.

As you may recall from previous blog posts, we discussed B, bid forms and invitation to bid; A, alternates and allowances; and D, drawings. Having this acronym to refer to will ensure that you don’t miss anything when reviewing the project documentation.

The “A” (Addenda) and the “S” (Scope of Work) of B.A.D.A.S.S.

Sometimes an addendum will be a simple narrative, while other times and addendum will include new drawings. These new drawings may have changes “ballooned out” so they are easily identifiable, however there are times when there are changes that are not identified! Always try to overlay the drawings to ensure that you cover any changes!

You learn something new every day!

Every time we teach the electrical estimating apprenticeship, I make the statement “You learn something new every day.” While Marc and I have had this business for 15 years, during this class, Carrie noted that she has seen in the specs that if the addenda received are not listed on your proposal, your bid can be automatically rejected. Honestly, I never knew that! That is why I love class participation. You never know who will come up with a great idea or comment about the estimating process!

Pay attention to the scope of work!

A statement about the scope of work is important to review before you start your take-off. You may assume that a certain system is part of the work, but the scope of work may prove otherwise! Pay close attention to “materials supplied by others” and “work under separate contract.” Sometimes the owner may supply lighting fixtures while the electrical contractor will install them. Other times, a complete system will be under a separate contract, such as fire alarm or tel/data wiring, devices, terminations, patch panels and racks for example. Note: even if a system is under a separate contract, you, as the electrical contractor may be responsible for raceways! Be sure to review all the documentation so you cover the costs appropriately.

Other Things to Look For: Mock-ups, extra materials, and warranties!

At the risk of running long on this blog, I do want to mention three things that can potentially impact the cost of your project.


Mock-ups are common, especially in hotels. A mock-up is usually set up in a warehouse and an entire room, such as a hotel room, will be built so that the designer can see if the room will work as intended. What this means for you as an estimator is that you have to carry the material and labor costs of lighting fixtures, devices, and wiring for the mock-up. These devices are usually retained by the owner. Make sure to carry enough labor for your electrician to “adjust” anything that the designer deems necessary.


A one-year warranty is pretty standard on most projects, however, some projects require two or even a five year warranty on some parts. If that is the case, you want to be sure to carry the cost of the extended warranty. The cost will depend on the item(s) you are covering. A good tip, if the warranty is not specified, is to put a statement in your proposal to the effect of “warranty limited to the extent of the manufacturer’s warranty.”

Spare Parts

Extra materials and spare parts should be covered in your estimate. If your project requires supplemental fixtures as noted in the specs, make sure that your vendor quotes these items! We like to include notes to this effect on our count sheets to ensure that the vendor is aware of the extra materials. Spare parts are also known as “attic stock.” Again, make sure that your vendor quotes these items.

Next up is a discussion about the specifications. We always say that the “devil is in the details” and the specs prove that most of the time! Stay tuned!

Electrical Estimating Apprenticeship – B.A.D.A.S.S. (Day 3)

The electrical estimating apprenticeship Day 3 started with a review of take-off components which we call B.A.D.A.S.S.

Be a B.A.D.A.S.S.

Years ago, we developed this acronym for our new estimators to remember all the components of bidding documents.

B – Invitation to Bid and Bid Forms

A – Allowances and Alternates

D – Drawings

A – Addenda

S – Scope of Work

S – Specs

B stands for Invitation to Bid and Bid Forms

Just because you receive an Invitation to Bid doesn’t mean that you should bid the project. We discussed having the time, tools, and resources to be able to complete the job per the requirements. Needless to say, if you are deficient in any area, you may have to reconsider bidding that project. 

The Invitation to Bid is your first introduction to the project. It will include project name, location, and bid date, as well as what trades will be required on the project. It will also include information on pre-bid meetings and walk-throughs. Pay attention if attending the walk through is mandatory in order to submit a bid! Also, look around and see who is there. It will give you a good idea of which competitors are considering bidding the project.

Minority participation may be also be required. If you are bidding as a prime, you will have to be sure to satisfy the minority requirements. If you are a minority contractor, pay attention to the bid forms and what your advantage will be. Often you will receive a 10% consideration for the work.

The Invitation to Bid will also include information about whether bonding will be required. We discussed bid, payment and performance bonds. Simply, a bid bond ensures that “you will complete the job for the quoted price.” A payment bond ensures “a contractor will pay your subs and suppliers.” A performance bond ensures “a contractor will complete the job as stated.”

Jobs can either be public or private. Public jobs are bid strictly by “plans and specs” and no exceptions are made. Private jobs, on the other hand, have a lot more latitude.

A stands for Allowances and Alternates

Always review the bid documents, including the bid form and front end specifications for allowances and alternates. Allowances could be required for just about anything. Sometimes it will be a fixed dollar amount to be “used at the discretion of the GC” sort of like a pre-paid change order. Other times, the specs will state to carry a dollar amount for a system that is not designed.

Look at the alternates before you start your take-off so that you can identity the areas of the alternates before you start your take-off. Believe me; this is a time saver!

D is for Drawings

If I have said it before, I will say it again. Always ask for a full set of drawings because you will be responsible for anything electrical regardless of what drawing it is on. Look at the drawing index and make sure you have all the drawings. Review the RCP’s for ceiling type and height and the architecturals for wall construction.

If you follow a systematic approach to your electrical estimating process, you will undoubtedly identify the true cost of the project, which is the estimator’s role.

Day 4 follows with more BADASS tips! Stay tuned!



Electrical Estimating Apprenticeship – Profit is not a dirty word! (Day 2)

Day 2 of the electrical estimating apprenticeship focused on three things. First, profit is not a dirty word! Second, relationships are important, and finally always ask for a full set of drawings!

Profit doesn’t happen by accident!

In terms of profit, it really is the goal of any “for profit” business. Profit doesn’t happen by accident though. A good estimate will ensure that all costs are covered. Effective project management will assure a profit is made when the job is finished. There are several variables that will determine if a profit is made; material costs and labor costs. Material costs include commodity material costs and quoted (packaged) material cost. Your estimate should include material pricing that is within 3 to 5% of your “buy” price.

Vendor relations are important for quoted (packaged) items!

How to ensure that you get the “right” price for your lighting, switchgear or fire alarm package on bid day? That’s right….relationships. It is imperative that when you send your counts and specs over to your vendor that you include the right bill of material. It’s no secret that the “first counts in” are the ones that the vendors quote, but that isn’t to say that you should sacrifice accuracy for speed in getting the counts out. How do you get that “whisper number” on bid day? Cultivate relationships with your suppliers and be sure to “spread the work around” among the vendors you use.

Labor is the most variable part of a project’s costs.

Labor efficiency relies on the human factor, making labor one of the most variable project costs. An average person works 40 hours per week, during daylight hours. Any variance to the “average” can and will result in labor inefficiencies. When you bid your project, be sure to account for things that can effect labor performance. Labor can be effected by labor schedule, weather, building height, project size and so much more.

It is the project manager’s responsibility, along with the help of the job superintendent and foreman, to ensure the labor goals are met. Generally, when you are 90% complete with a project, you should have approximately 20 to 25% of your labor hours left to complete the project. I know that sounds like a lot, but the electricians are generally the last craftsmen off the project, and a lot of work is required once other trades complete their work.

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships!

Never underestimate the power of a good relationship with the general contractors you work with (or want to work with) and your vendors. Cultivating relationships is important. It is certainly much easier to conduct business with someone with whom you have a good relationship, and it may open doors to private projects that never “hit the street” so to speak. How do you build relationships? A good way is to join business networking groups, or even civic groups such as the Rotary Club or social clubs such as the Elks. It will vary from place to place.

Have you ever noticed how happy people are when you bring them something that they don’t expect? A box of donuts may not get you a job right away, but it may help you get in the door of a contractor that won’t take your phone call. Sometimes the little things make a big difference. Be creative!

Access to a full set of drawings is critical in the estimating process.

At the risk of this blog getting too long winded, I have to mention that when you start a project, make sure you have a full set of plans. Although you will be bidding on primarily the electrical drawings, you typically are responsible for anything shown on any of the drawings. For example, some projects will have electrical, lighting design, and interior design drawings, all showing lighting fixtures. These drawings may not be coordinated so you may have to count off three different drawings for the same area!

Read the drawing index.

A quick review of the drawing index will be the roadmap to the drawings you should really review. Yes, you are responsible for anything electrical that is shown on the drawing, regardless of whether it is shown on an architectural or mechanical drawing. Make it a habit to review all the drawings, using the index as your guide. Remember, it is the estimator’s role to determine the true cost of a project. Sometimes it’s a puzzle and you never know where you’ll find the missing piece.

Stay tuned for this week’s thoughts on the electrical estimating apprenticeship!

eBook: “Understanding Electrical Estimating” Released

Book Cover: Understanding-Electrical-Estim ating by Linda CandelsA new electrical estimating book hits the press! Candels Estimating introduces its first e-book:  Understanding Electrical Estimating

Understanding Electrical Estimating is a 12-part series which serves not only as an introduction to estimating but also operates as an essential and comprehensive reference for the seasoned estimator.

Linda Candels, one of the founding partners of Candels Estimating LLC and Candels Estimating Training LLC, opens her own book of 20-plus years of knowledge and experience to educate electrical estimators and other industry professionals.

Linda writes about the facts and includes detailed scenarios and real-world experience. Each section depicts how and why to execute your project the right way. She addresses what it takes to prepare an estimate as well as the many issues and concerns that arise while doing so–whether you’re overseeing it all or you’re out in the field.

Understanding Electrical Estimating breaks down topics such as specs and drawings, take-offs, labor adjustments, quotes, software, the detailed and sometimes tricky process of bidding, and much more. This electrical estimating book shows you how to handle and/or resolve issues at any level of your career.

Topics like:

  • Bidding and bonding essentials
  • Is that legal and up to code?
  • Who is responsible for what expense and why?
  • How do I write a winning proposal?
  • Overhead and profit – how does this affect your bid?
  • How “…your field labor will perform to the standards that you have estimated”
  • “To help win the bid, package your proposal so it stands out. For example, before bid day…”

The book lives up to its name. Understanding Electrical Estimating helps any estimator understand the ins and outs of this comprehensive field.

Have your own book! Get your download 

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Get Specific About Job Specifications

You have set the groundwork for an efficient estimating process by knowing your business, your customers, and how to select the appropriate jobs to bid. Now it’s time to focus on the nuts and bolts of the process. A thorough review of a job’s specifications provides the roadmap to get to your bid price.

Front End Specifications

The front end specifications (Division 1) provide general project information that applies to all trades. The responsibility schedule will detail “who owns what.” Do not assume that everything you usually bid is part of the bid package on every project. The specifications should also specify the project schedule. Be sure you can meet the deadline since failure to do so may result in liquidated damages, which could be thousands of dollars per day! Often not being able to meet the schedule is through no fault of your own; you may be losing time from delays due to other trades. In this case, you should document the situation and inform the owner/GC to put them on notice, so as not to be hit with liquidated damages charges.Start-Getting-Specific

Project Walk-through

You should always attend the project walk-through, especially if it is mandatory. Valuable project insight can be gained about job site conditions and restrictions, working access, working hours, parking, or materials storage space, and even the presence of asbestos. If you don’t show up, you will not be able to submit a bid. A walk-through allows you to “see” what may not appear in the drawings such as existing equipment, access to the equipment, and general site conditions.

Bond Requirements

Also, the front end specs include bonding requirements — be it bid, performance, or payment bonds. There is a lead time in getting a bond, so the earlier you request one the better. Bonds can take 3 to 4 working days to get. As a result, a good working relationship with your bonding company can reduce the lead time tremendously. And, if your relationship is excellent, you may be able to arrange to write your bonds through power of attorney.

Extra Hours

Finally, the general contractor or construction manager may require you to carry “extra hours” to be used at their discretion, and they may need you to give allowances for contingent items. Often these are high ticket items, so you want to ensure these are included in your proposal. More often, general contractors, especially larger ones, are including “500 extra hours to be used at their discretion,” feeling that they are pre-buying hours that can be used for change orders at a discounted rate.

Electrical Information

Electrical information is contained in Division 16 or 26 specification sections. Other low-voltage information (fire alarm, security, public address, and telecommunications) may be included in separate specification sections. Be sure to know what you will be responsible for within your bid package.

The Specs Supersede the Drawings

Read the specs carefully. As the old saying goes, “the devil is in the details.” If there is a conflict between the specifications and what is shown in the drawings, try to pinpoint a reference within the text that defines the information that supersedes the other. It’s an old wives’ tale that “the specs supersedes the drawings.”  For example, the specs may state that outside duct banks shall be run in Schedule 40 PVC. However, there is a note on the site drawing that states all duct banks shall be run in galvanized rigid conduit (which costs a lot more than PVC)!

If you can’t find a particular reference about what information supersedes, submit a Request for Information (RFI) for clarification. At all times, you want to be sure to cover your costs yet at the same time you do not want to cover any unnecessary costs that could unnecessarily inflate your bid price. Whatever you do, always qualify your bid! For example, it could be as simple as “Carried Schedule 40 PVC for all duct banks per specifications. Did not carry GRC per drawings.”

Specs are often considered “boilerplate,” meaning they do not always contain project accurate information. And to be truthful, it can get tedious reviewing hundreds of pages of what may seem to be worthless information. You always want to look for wiring methods, fittings required, required testing and coordination studies, and the responsibility of providing starters and disconnects. For private jobs, you will be able to deviate from the specifications. However, if it is a public project, you will be bidding on “plans and specs,” meaning you will not be able to deviate from the plans and specifications.

Be aware that specs may include information on systems that are not shown or referenced on the drawings. Carefully review the written narrative describing the system, components and wiring methods. And again, if any doubt exists, qualify your bid.

A thorough review of the specifications helps you map out the entire bid process and set the stage for the next part of the estimating process — the take-off.