RJ Martin Electric Blog

When Drawings are Incomplete, Who’s the Best Electrical Contractor for the Job?

In an absolutely perfect world – we’ll call it Xanadu – plans for a commercial, health care, industrial, education or retail construction project would be 100 percent complete—including the electrical drawings. A general contractor or end user construction manager in Xanadu would simply select an outstanding electrical contracting firm, then sit back as that firm used the complete set of drawings to perform their electrical scope flawlessly. This ideal project would finish ahead of schedule, under budget, without a hiccup at any point in time.

Of course, Xanadu is a fantasy land—and the project we described is equally fictitious. Electrical contracting projects are complex, pressure-packed, time-sensitive affairs. The electrical contracting firm you choose needs to have deep experience in the given project type; must possess the resources and capacity to perform the work as specified, on time and on budget; and must be absolutely committed to performing work safely. Yet, there’s one quality that often goes overlooked in many projects: the ability of your electrical contractor to execute their scope with or without complete drawings.

Even large-scale projects aren’t always 100 percent engineered, so the electrical contractor you choose must have the knowledge and understanding necessary to:

  1. Look beyond the drawings and truly understand how systems work in and of themselves, and in tandem with other building systems. Electrical contractors that don’t have adequate experience in your industry, haven’t worked on similar projects, or can’t work with incomplete drawings, may not know what should be in the drawings—and so they can’t plan and estimate accordingly.
  2. Provide a guaranteed maximum price for the work with full specs. Again this gets back to experience—with different industry sectors, different project types, and degrees of drawing completeness. At RJ Martin Electric, it’s not uncommon for us to work with drawings that are only 50 to 75 percent complete. We have the experience, the insights, and the in-house resources – including state-of-the-art Accubid® and Accubid LiveCount™ estimating software – to provide a comprehensive pricing scheme. This helps to ensure total accountability—with no surprises.

As an example, RJ Martin Electric’s electricians were hired recently for an industrial project—and the only drawings available were old and outdated. We needed to track everything that was disconnected first in order to reconnect it properly—and then we had to merge that with updated controls. Without new engineering drawings, that can be an enormous challenge. Thankfully, our electricians had the experience and capabilities to get the project up and running.

For another project, the electrical equipment sat idle for seven years in a facility and needed to be reconfigured. This was a fast-track project, so we worked closely with the engineer to reinstall that equipment literally minutes after it was engineered.

These are examples of adaptability, creativity and ingenuity needed by a successful electrical contractor in an industrial setting. Additionally, qualified industrial electricians can often identify cost-saving techniques or alternative approaches. When implemented, these can save significant dollars in the short and long term.

A word about creative problem-solving abilities.

Electrical drawings often can be incomplete. They also can be incorrect. In both cases, a key attribute that outstanding electrical contractors possess is the ability to identify potential design issues and oversights, then mitigate the damage with minimal or no effect on scheduling or budgets. For a health care project, imagine having to reroute conduit down a patient wing that’s already painted and completed due to early stage engineering errors. That’s an expensive proposition. Through our decades in the electrical contracting business, we’ve seen numerous instances where construction drawings were incorrect. Your electrical contractor should have the experience, insight and courage to speak up, ask intelligent questions and get the answers needed to keep the electrical portion of the project on track and on budget. Catching mistakes early on can mitigate the associated cost and help ensure trouble-free electrical operations over time. In this regard, an electrical contractor can be a GC’s valuable partner.

Read more about the importance of creativity in electrical contracting projects in our recent blog.

Contact RJ Martin Electric to learn more.

We hope this blog helps you understand why it’s important to hire an electrical contractor that can work with partially completed drawings. 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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