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Understanding Labor – The Impact of Multiple Labor Factors

Understanding labor is one of the most important responsibilities of the estimator. There are three major components of labor. The estimator must understand all three of these.  They are:

  1. Labor Columns
  2. Labor Factoring
  3. Labor Factors

Factoring labor and labor factors are not the same.  Factoring labor is the application of adjustments based on the difficulty or ease of installation.  Labor factors are related to overtime, weather, multistory buildings, shift work, and site accessibility.

Factoring labor is an adjustment due to the installation.  Labor factors are conditions that affect labor productivity.  Factoring labor is handled in the takeoff and labor factors are handled in the bid summary.

Every item is labored at a standard labor unit. Depending on labor adjustments, a standard labor unit can either increase or decrease. A labor unit for a specific item can have a wide range when all factors are applied. The table below will show how labor can vary based on the appropriate adjustments.


Various Installations

Unit Weather
Standard 100% 11.00 13.75 16.78 18.87
Slab 70% 7.70 9.63 11.74 13.21
Trench – 2 Runs 60% 6.60 8.25 10.07 11.32
Parallel Runs –  @ 20′ 113% 12.43 15.54 18.96 21.33
Parallel Runs –  @ 40′ 135% 14.85 18.56 22.65 25.48
Feeder Exposed @ 20′ 120% 13.20 16.50 20.13 22.65
Feeder Exposed @ 40′ 150% 16.50 20.63 25.16 28.31

Table Notes: Overtime percentage (22%) is based on 6 ten-hour days for 10 weeks.  Secured facility is a 12.5% lost time factor. The standard labor unit of 11 hours per hundred feet is NECA Column 1.

From the table, you can see that depending on the combination of factors, 2” GRC can range from 6.60 hours per 100 to 28.31 hours per C.  That is a 157% increase from the lowest to the highest.

Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, and quality estimating is profitable.