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7 Common Sewer Bypass Estimating Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

As an estimator, you know unexpected costs can kill profitability. So, before you submit a bid, you want to be sure you’ve covered all your bases and averted potential problems. Here are some common estimating mistakes and how to avoid them on sewer bypass projects.

1.     Mistake: Not taking a bottom-up approach to estimating. Sometimes you have no choice but to use unit costs for your estimates, like cost per foot of pipe. But you still need to check the latest prices. It’s never enough to insert the cost from the last project.

Fix: Treat every job individually, even if you think the job is the same size and complexity as the previous one. Get a new price for every item.

2.     Mistake: Skipping the site visit. Unforeseen site conditions are the largest contributor to project change orders and increased costs. You can’t understand how to route pipe, situate the pumps, and deal with flow for a sewer bypass from plans and drawings.

Fix: Visit the site with the representative from the municipality or the engineer. You want the person with the most in-depth knowledge of the sewer bypass project. Also, take along your sewer bypass provider, who will know what the pumping system can and can’t do. With everyone’s insight, you’ll be able to quote that portion of the contract effectively.

3.     Mistake: Accepting subcontractor quotes without backup detail. The sub may be completely confident in the system they designed. But never take their word that it will handle the sewer bypass flow for the cost they plan to charge.

Fix: Get the engineering calculations and system drawings and ask the design engineer to review them. Make sure you can envision the scope of equipment, the system layout, and how it will perform based on the information provided.

4.     Mistake: Failing to do due diligence on labor costs. The costs for prevailing wage and certified payroll add up fast. You need to consider the impact of various conditions—for example, how much footage of pipe a team can put in the ground or line each day on a city street with heavy traffic versus the same task performed in an open field.

Fix: Review labor costs in detail, including types and hours of labor for each task over the entire timeline of the project. Then, get a firm commitment from your bypass subcontractor on the cost.

5.     Mistake: Not factoring in risk if you go with the lowest price. Accepting the lowest bid often means you will pay in other ways. Don’t overlook a subcontractor’s lack of expertise and experience, figuring they will fix any problems. Those problems will become yours.

Fix: Consider all the potential issues you could face on a project, such as overflow on a sewer bypass. Be confident your subcontractor can manage each of them. Double check the limitations and exclusions in the contract, the safety plan, and the spill and emergency response plan.

6.     Mistake: Failing to review the bypass pumping engineering submittal. Have you reviewed the submittal against the specifications to ensure all the information is correct?

Fix: Sit down with your bypass pumping subcontractor to review the specifications and their submittal. The last thing you want is the design engineer to keep sending the submittal back for changes. This will hold up the job until the submittal is approved.

7.     Mistake: Not treating the quote as though it’s written in stone. Again, you may think your subcontractor will take responsibility for any problems and quickly resolve them—but your company is ultimately on the line.

Fix: Never forget that you’re tied to the number you put in every box on every bid. To be competitive, your margins must be as low as possible while still maintaining a profit. If your quote doesn’t encompass absolutely everything down to the last fitting and bolt, your margin and profit will suffer. Work with your bypass pumping subcontractor to come up with a firm amount that you can confidently put into the bid tabulation sheet.


Consult with a partner at no cost

From initial design through final installation, the Sunbelt Rentals Pump Solutions team provides the equipment and expertise you need to meet your project requirements. Whether it’s bypass scoping, water level management, fluid diversion for the repair of existing pipelines, or another type of project, our team is available 24/7 to ensure that your pumping project is a success. Contact our experts for a free consultation and estimate.