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Electrical Estimating Methods

The electrical estimating work demands a higher level of accuracy and skills. Are you an estimator? The estimates you produce determine how to start an electrical project. Customers then use your estimates to win bids for more projects in the future.

Of course, creating the most precise estimates is a challenging task. Various factors go into producing an estimate. If it is an electrical project, the estimating can alone be a huge job.

If you want to advance your career and end up with a profitable business. Then, you need to use electrical estimating techniques different from what you follow now. Your estimating methodology plays a significant role in determining how precisely you can measure estimates.

Check out this crucial article for a broad understanding of some electrical estimating methods!

Types of Electrical Estimation Methods

Estimation can be a critical step in the electrical project. But calling it a tricky task will be an understatement. Electrical estimation involves various variables that can sound herculean.

Moreover, the emergence of so many estimation methods has made this task even more challenging. For instance, it can be difficult to decide which technique to use. Or which is the better one? Don’t worry. We are here to help you sort through this process quickly. 

Read out the specs, pros and cons of each estimation technique in the following:

Types of Electrical Estimation Methods

Labor Unit Method

The basic principle of the labor unit method is establishing labor units. This technique provides a separate labor unit to install each material item. 

Furthermore, this method accurately represents the work required for project completion.

The basic unit of this technique is defined as the unit of time in hours determined to be consumed with average productivity. Also, the basic unit includes the following labor functions:

  • Normal definite installation work
  • Normal electrical installation layout
  • Normal installations regarding job activity
  • Normal ancillary material handling

Per-Point Method

The per-point counts each fixture as a “point” set to a standard dollar value. However, the fixtures may include a sensor, switch, powerpoint, etc.

For instance, if you count 1000 points and give the value of 100 pounds to each. Your final quote for the electrical project would be 100,000 pounds.

Furthermore, it is a quick method. It provides customers with the satisfaction of logical insights.

Per-point is an averaging technique. It shows that lows and highs are not accounted for. It can leave you out of the budget. However, problems occurring during this method can impact project costs with inaccurate takeoffs. Also, it will take a longer time to measure estimates than stated.

Assembly-Estimating or Pre-Build Method

Unlike the labor unit method, the pre-build estimation provides more accurate takeoffs. The units that go into assembly estimation are for the complete assembly of the project.

However, there are still risks of errors accompanying the aforementioned per-point technique.

The pre-build method is an advanced version of the per-unit method. In addition, common mistakes or inaccuracies in the assembly-estimating method include:

  • Inaccurate labor calculation
  • Failing to estimate travel costs of the job precisely

Moreover, this method is an excellent and more accessible way to measure takeoffs. It packages your key elements by producing a unit price and including the required materials.

Assembly-Estimating or Pre-Build Method

Design and Construct Method

In this method, the contractors design and implement the electrical project. For example, the client will only provide the design brief detailing the project parameters.

Afterward, the electrical contractor will provide the customer with a more detailed design.

Design and construction is one of the most complex electrical estimating techniques. You have to work for the client by staying within budget. You must have a deep understanding of all crucial aspects of the electrical project, including:

  • Equipment
  • Materials
  • Labor cost
  • Methods and means of design

However, the only con of this estimation technique is that it can leave error risks at any stage.


There is an authentic reason to discuss this method last. Undoubtedly, guesstimating is the most used technique. But it is more susceptible to errors. 

Additionally, it is a quantitative estimation based on a guess rather than an in-depth analysis. 

In the Oxford Dictionary, guesstimating refers to the estimations based on guesswork and the number of calculations. This is why it can result in highly imprecise estimates. Inaccurate estimates account for project complexities, ultimately overstating it.

If you are a master of the estimations, it is preferable to use guesstimating. But if you are a beginner, Then, getting your hands on this electrical estimation method is not advisable.

What Is the Best Method?

Various electrical estimation methods are available for your ease. However, only one can best fit your requirements. Every estimation method has its own specifications, pros and drawbacks. If you are working on smaller projects, the unit method is the best option to go for. But for medium to larger projects, the assembly method is the most recommended. In the end, it is up to you which estimation technique to use for your project. 

Read more: Pro tips to estimate residential electrical work
In case the majority of the work is done by subcontractors, the labor method would be worthwhile. The only method we don’t suggest is guesstimating because of potential drawbacks it have.


What are the different types of electrical estimation methods?

There are three major types of electrical estimation methods. They include the labor method, the assembly method, and the unit method. The labor method is effective for electrical projects where subcontractors do most of the work. In contrast, the assembly method is ideal for medium to large-sized electrical projects. If we talk about the unit method, it is perfect for small projects.

Which electrical estimation method is best?

Using a top-down approach is the best method for electrical estimations. In this method, an electrical design project is estimated based on the objective and scope of the project. It includes breaking down your project into different components and assigning a price range to each.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when estimating electrical projects?

The common mistakes to avoid when estimating electrical projects are forgetting to check material prices and not reviewing results. If you don’t get good quote coverage, qualify bids accurately or get cost guarantees. Then, it can also result in imprecise estimates.

How can I get help with electrical estimation?

It is where hiring expert electrical estimators can assist. We have a broad knowledge of electrical estimation. Our experts can provide you with precise quotes as per specific project requirements. Besides, it is an effective way to improve the estimate accuracy and save money.

When should I use Square Foot Estimating?

Performing Square Foot Estimating at an initial stage in your electrical project is advisable. For example, if you are creating a schematic design using sq. ft. estimating is a better choice here.

Are there any software tools available for Electrical Estimation?

There are many smart technology software tools available for electrical estimation. They include JobFLEX, Bhoomi, Trimble Accubid Enterprise, CMIS, and Quantum. Furthermore, businesses can use these tools to perform precise digital takeoffs and make accurate estimations.

Can I do Electrical Estimation myself, or should I hire a professional?

If you are a contractor, it can be difficult to measure precise estimates while working on other crucial aspects. Therefore, it is best to hire a professional estimator. Experts bring specialized expertise, ability to overcome potential risks and broad industry knowledge. Professionals ensure that you get accurate estimations for the electrical system.

James Oliver

With over 10 years of dedicated experience in the electrical estimation industry, I have honed my skills and developed a comprehensive understanding of the nuanced requirements that drive successful electrical projects.

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