Increase Profits by Identifying Hidden Costs when Estimating Electrical Projects Part 2

Updated: Feb 15


When estimating electrical projects it is vitally important that you recognize and account for hidden costs on projects.

It is part of the “Crossing your “T’s” and dotting your “I’s”.

This writing helps identify hidden costs in electrical projects and explains ideas how to cover those costs.



In Part 1 We covered: Examples of hidden costs to be aware of

  1. Mobilization expense

  2. Expendable tools expense

  3. Truck & tool expense

In Part 2 We cover:  Examples of hidden costs to be aware of

  1. Delivery charges for rental equipment

  2. Fuel cost

  3. Labor and fuel cost for testing generators.

  4. Drinking water

  5. Storage expense

  6. Contingency expense (Expenses that cannot be predicted with certainty)


Part 2: Examples of hidden costs to be aware of

Rental equipment delivery charges


Equipment rental companies charge delivery fees to deliver equipment like man lifts, forklifts, trenchers, etc. Make sure to include the cost of delivery in your estimate. Fees could be $75.00 each way, or more.


Fuel cost for equipment

Remember to add dollars for fuel expense for equipment like tractors or trenchers, or for job site vehicles.


Calculate your total cost and input your dollar cost for fuel in your estimate.

Labor and fuel cost for testing generators.

When estimating generators read the specifications closely about generator testing to find out what is required.

Generator testing is usually required.

Some requirements to consider.

  1. 3rd party testing

  2. Fuel cost

  3. Labor for electrician to be present during generator testing

When 3rd party testing is required, contact an approved testing company, get a price from them and add that cost to your estimate. Note: They will require the testing specifications to know what to include. Generators may be required to run for several hours for testing purposes. Fuel can cost a lot of money.

When you are required to provide fuel for generator testing. Find out how many hours of testing are required, calculate your fuel cost and add dollars to your estimate.

You may be required to provide an electrician to be present while generators are being tested. If so, calculate the number of hours required and add those hours to your estimate.


Note: You may elect to exclude generator testing. If you are excluding generator testing show on your proposal Generator Testing Excluded.


Drinking water                                                                                               

When you are required to provide drinking water for your employees, calculate the expense and add dollars for that in your estimate expenses.


Storage Expense                                                                                          

On some projects you may be required to rent storage bins or shipping containers for storage for items like panels, switch gear and light fixtures.

Storage expense may incurs labor cost for handling and moving of items.

To include those expenses in your estimate:

Add description “Storage expense” Input dollars needed.

Add description “Labor for storage” number of hours needed.


Contingency  Expense

Contingency expense (Expenses that cannot be predicted with certainty)

Contingency is defined as, “A provision for an unforeseen event or circumstance.”

Construction projects have unforeseen or events and should be covered by adding dollars.

Contingency is often calculated using a percentage (%) of the estimate.

The amount varies. I have seen estimates that add 1½ % to 3% or more. Determine the amount on a case by case, job-by-job basis.


Note: Some contractors include expendable tools in their contingency expense.

Determine what amount or what percent (%) you want add to your estimate and add it accordingly

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