Pitfalls of Small Jobs

Are you an electrician who recently transitioned from construction to rolling solo? Do you want to? It is important for you to know, that many small-jobs done by large EC's, are losers. EC's don't want to bid these small jobs, 80 hours and below, but the Project Manager does it, to keep existing customers happy, and to open new doors. This is why the electrician should exercise common sense in making the installation.

Go in with a plan. It is said, 'fail to plan, and plan to fail.' Failure is going to send a man on the fast-track to the unemployment line. If the job has drawings, read them. Make notes on them IN PENCIL. These drawings may end up being your as-builts. Electrical drawings are diagrammatic, that means you don't have to install half inch conduit homeruns that are only half full. Look through other series of drawings as well, that means the A-series, M-series, and sometimes others, like Furniture Drawings. Pay attention to Elevation Details. Your electrical drawings are good for knowing what circuit to put a receptacle on, but if you want to install it in the right place, you will have to check the A-drawings. That being said, many small jobs do not have drawings … but if there are drawings, you are probably too unimportant to get a set. Ask the superintendent to get you a copy of the drawings burnt on a cd-rom, this is most likely a can-do.

Communicate. Communicate with your Project Manager. He will tell you what is in the scope of your contract, and what is not. Some items shown on your drawings may be 'future,' but not shown as such. What is in the final scope was probably negotiated long after drawings were issued. Communicate with the other subs, introduce yourself. They may have scissor-lifts and air-powered tools you can borrow. Read Dale Carnegie books, this will help with hostile trades. And finally, know who your contractual relationship is with. Other subs, the owner, and everyone else will try to trick you into giving free extras, but there is only one person who you should trade horses with. You and your PM need to have a sit-down and decide what changes need to be brought to his attention, and what does not. If you are new to your PM, send him an email everyday, updating him on the job. It helps him to keep track if the subject heading is: 'Job Description' 'date' 'day of week.'

Get your materials into the flow. Anticipate, but don't over-purchase. Try to build it in your head first. Every job you go out on, write down the job number in a notepad. This number is important, it helps the office to track your hours so you can get paid, and it's the number you give the buyer, so he can issue you a purchase order to the supply house. The trick is, take the work as far as reasonably possible, while making a material list, then hit the supply house on the way out the door. I like to be at the supply house counter, talking to the sales clerk face to face. Unless you write down a long form description of the item you need, or know the supply house's part numbers, they will send you the wrong parts. Since you made the order in the evening, any materials not at the supply house, will come in on the night shipment. I must qualify that statement, the above is true for cities, not sure about back country. On your way to the job in the morning, drop by the supply house and pick-up your 'will-call.' Check the packing slip for any back-ordered items, this is important, as time restraints may require you to move to plan B. Check to verify most every single part is the one you ordered, or equivalent. Carry on, and complete your job.

Proper planning, communication, and getting materials into the mix is ​​half the battle. If you can accomplish this, your job will probably be a success story.

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