RJ Martin Electric Blog

7 Tips for Controlling Costs in Electrical Contracting Projects

For capital projects of any size or scope, a general contractor’s (GC) or end user’s ultimate goals are usually two-fold: get the job done on time and on budget. Since time essentially is money, controlling costs throughout the duration of a project is key to accomplishing both goals.

RJ Martin Electric is the electrical contractor of choice for hundreds of projects around Northeast Ohio and the U.S. For projects in commercial, industrial, health care, retail and educational sectors, our experience has helped us identify several factors within the electrical contracting scope that can help GCs and end users control costs and accomplish their goals. Below are 7 tips to consider for your next project.

  1. Get an accurate estimate with a defined scope up front—and insist your contractor stick to the plan. The electrical contractor you choose should also work to understand your objectives for the project in terms of a full scope review. There should never be surprises in any capital project, and the preconstruction process is the ideal time to prevent them before they occur. As a GC or owner, this greatly reduces your risk. At RJ Martin Electric, we utilize sophisticated software to deliver estimates that are detailed down to the last screw. Too many electrical contracting firms don’t utilize such technology. Our estimating software represents a substantial up-front and ongoing investment of time and money, but it allows us to generate extremely accurate quotes quickly, and with no surprises.
  2. Make sure the electrical contractor details the plan of attack. Capital projects are unique, and while construction approaches and techniques may be similar from project to project, the electrical contractor you select should provide detailed plans and timelines for their scope. Ideally, their wheels should be turning in their heads during your initial discussion as they mentally assemble their game plan. If they seem disengaged, hurried or dismissive, count those as warning signs.
  3. Be wary of unusually low estimates. The bid an electrical contractor delivers should be an honest and competitive price. Too often, we hear of contractors low-balling bids, only to make up the difference – and then some – with change orders. The change order price hikes are bad enough, but change orders eat up valuable time as well, and that will eat away at your profit margin even more. Finally, when it comes to low estimates, the old maxim, “you get what you pay for,” often applies. If the electrical contractor isn’t charging an honest and fair price, who’s to say the electrical installation will be completed to the highest industry standards?
  4. Consider prefabrication when appropriate. Many clients request that RJ Martin Electric assemble their electrical material in advance at an offsite location, before it’s installed at the job site. This process, widely known as prefabrication, lowers labor costs and allows for better quality control of electrical equipment assembly. Studies show a work area designed for prefabrication allows for electrical material assembly at a fraction of the cost compared to assembly on the job site. With prefabrication, the on-site construction footprint is kept to a minimum, as there is less room required for assembly of electrical equipment and less labor in the client’s facility. Additionally, work sites remain clean due to less garbage/scrap material, which improves safety on the job site and minimizes the risk of accidents.
  5. Stay on schedule—and communicate effectively throughout the project chain to make that happen. Your electrical contractor must stay on schedule; if they don’t, that delay causes delays all down the line. In this regard, it’s essential that communication lines are always open among electrical contractors, GCs and other trades; this will help you stay on schedule, and by extension, on budget. Finally, if your electrical contractor lags behind – or if another trade is holding things up – it’s crucial to document everything in writing.
  6. Utilize a skilled workforce. With high turnover comes many problems. The electrical contractor you select should employ professionals with deep experience. At RJ Martin Electric, our people, from management through journeyman electricians and more, have been with our company for years. Many have decades of experience as RJ Martin Electric employees. As a family-owned company, we work hard to create a culture and environment that encourages long-term employment. That translates to experienced and committed professionals working together to keep your project on time and on budget.
  7. Stay safe. On-site safety has many benefits, including the obvious one of keeping people out of harm’s way. Yet, safety is also an essential part of maintaining profitability on a project. So, what makes it so critical?
  • Unsafe practices lead to job site accidents. Besides the obvious personal toll of any injury, job-related injuries can lead to workers’ compensation (WC) claims, and possibly lawsuits.
  • Time delays. When a worker is injured on a job site, the location of that injury immediately becomes an accident site. Often, it is cordoned off, pending investigations by OSHA and other authorities. This renders that spot inaccessible to workers, which often results in substantial delays. It’s also worth noting that an injured worker who leaves the site is one less worker to keep your project on time.
  • Cost overruns. When you figure in potential costs associated with WC claims, legal fees, higher insurance premiums, delay penalties and more, it’s easy to see that costs associated with any job site injury can add up quickly.

When you’re evaluating electrical contractors for your next project, the contractor you choose must maintain an established and comprehensive safety program that ensures workers are properly trained in all elements of safe work practices. This helps to mitigate job site accidents and keep project schedules and budgets on track. Anything less is unacceptable. For more information on safety in electrical contracting projects, read our recent blog on the subject.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps you understand some strategic ways to control costs for your electrical contracting projects. If you’re looking for an exceptional electrical contracting firm for your next project, or if you want information about RJ Martin Electric’s experience in industrial, health care, commercial, education and retail markets, please call Robert J. Martin at 216-662-7100 or email rmartinjr@rjmartinelectric.com.

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