Reverse Engineer Your Electrical Design
When it gets to commercial projects, budget is always a concern for designers and contractors. Electrical design is one of your key expenses and is not free of budget constraints either. But sometimes saving little amounts during the rough-in stage can cause huge disappointments due to lack of upgradability of the space. In this article, we share with you our years of experience in few simple steps and tell you how to reverse engineer your electrical designs to make sure your trade is neither cutting corners nor going over your budget. Let's get started.
1. Define your functions.
Put the budgets and numbers away for a minute and start thinking about how could someone make the best use of your facility. Will they ever need a sound system? will there be large displays on walls? Do we need network connections for cloud devices businesses will use? How about cameras? Do we have power outlet for all these spots? You client probably won't be able to guess all of these things before they occupy the space and start experiencing their day-to-day use of the facility.
Yes, electrical code is there to provide you with a very general guideline on what you should include in your electrical design. However to build a sustainable structure that can be used and improved in future years, you have to think above and beyond. Unfortunately your client will never be able to tell you exactly how they will be using their space until it is finished and they start using it. It is your job as the contractor/designer and your electrician’s duty to plan for every possibility of utilization of the facility for the next 15~20 years. This is where an experienced electrical contractor or control system designer can open your eyes and suggest possible upgrades that are out there on market benefiting other people.
2. Design your perfect scenario
Usually the wish list in a project is 3 times larger than the initial budget, but that's ok. Ask your electrical contractor to give you itemized estimate that not only defines the global cost of the project, but also outlines how much each item is going to cost you from start to finish. This way, you or your client can make a better decision on what is worth to spend more money on.
3. Cut branches and adjust budget
Having a detailed proposal, gives you the flexibility to play with quantities and get to your optimal design by including this that matter the most. For example, your client may not want to spend $5000 on pendant lights and $4000 on an audio amplifier, but when they can see with $500 they can run the wires and keep the option of doing it at a later time, they would happily increase their budget for the extra value they are getting. This can only happen if your trade is professional enough and confident enough to give you line item pricing and allows you or your client to make the final call.
4. Stick to the plan
As much as we enjoy upgrades and project additions as trade, but it is not in client’s best interest to have major changes in the initial plan. Remember that you started from the best case scenario and cut some branches simply because you took a global look at your budget and decided to only spend so much on your electrical and low voltage systems. Re-adding too many costly products or service during the project might cause budget shortage and budget cuts from other portions of your entire work.
To summarize, spending a little time planning your electrical and low voltage design, will go a long way and save you money. Proper planning and of course execution is only possible with help of a passionate and caring trade. Do not be fooled by cheaper bids on paper as they will only cost you more money on long run.