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An insight into life at HF as an Estimator

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While HF is well known for the work that we provide in everything from electrical to 5G telecommunications, it is rare for us to talk about so many of the other cogs within the company that are vital for the HF machine to run smoothly.

One of those vital areas of HF that are so essential to the work we do is the Design & Estimating Department. As the name suggests, this side of HF is where we plan out, cost and design projects and ensure that the work we do is reliably following the requirements set out by our clients.

To help shine a light on the work that gets done in the Estimating Department, we sat down with Ben, one of the Electrical Estimators at HF to find out more about the work he does here and the challenges behind it.

So Ben, what is it that you do at HF?

In a nut shell, I am involved in determining the costs for electrical installations in industrial, commercial and residential projects that HF get to work on.

With each job, there are material costs, labour time, transportation and many more variables to determine and it is up to us to calculate how long each job will last, researching market prices for project materials and equipment, dealing with subcontractors and communicating with clients to determine the scope of each project.

A big part of tendering is determining the potential profitability of electrical projects; that data is used by the management at HF to help them make sound tender decisions.

working at HF as an electrical estimator

While tender contracts will stipulate certain criteria, I get to brainstorm viable solutions that will help us to increase project profitability and if Management gives it a green light, I then get to work on completing and submitting competitive tender’s bids for HF. Tenders are a lot more than just quoting a price.  Everything has to be in accordance with established BS7671 18th edition IET wiring regulations and because so many of the projects we do are large in scale, it means I need to regularly update cost databases to accurately reflect fluctuating material and labour costs. While a couple of pennies per metre increase in the cost of electrical wiring may not sound big, when you are installing hundred of metres of wiring in one job, those small increases can all add up.

On top of the estimating side of things, I get to be involved in the design of electrical projects; creating wiring, lighting and power distribution diagrams that fit an individual project’s needs. I collaborate with homeowners, architects, construction firms and manufacturers to design circuits and switchboards for their machinery and equipment.

So all in all, quite a mixed bag of things.

Do you have a favourite project that you have worked on in the past?

I enjoy a challenge and there is one client that we get to work with that, because of the complexity of the work, involves the design, supply, wire and install of all the components at this facility which includes power, containment, lighting, data, PLC works, toxic monitoring cabling and commissioning. There is a lot involved in it but that challenge makes the work a lot more interesting.

We also recently completed work on the new Douglas Laing offices at what is now known as Douglas House. With that project, we were able to do the full design of the installation and that was a challenge I enjoyed and got to play a big part in.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

The high paced nature of the tenders and the tight return dates are a challenge but I think the biggest one is trying to interpret the requirements of the clients or designers. We always want to hit the nail on the head with what we deliver to customers but sometimes we are not given enough information, and other times too much; it is a balancing act trying to decipher their needs. As I am concerned, there is no replacement for experience and no way to skip or get past this fact. When you add this together with the experience of all my co-workers on the estimating team, there is not much we haven’t come across before. And that has been invaluable to what we do.

What is your background/experience?

I actually started out at HF as an apprentice electrician. I got to learn the trade working predominantly on industrial and commercial projects and then, when I passed my FICA test, I became an electrician.  It wasn’t long before the company asked me to become an electrical estimator and work along side the team in the office. That was over 11 years ago. As part of that switch in career, I completed an HNC in electrical engineering attending night school which has helped open up more doors and possibilities for me at HF.

What do you most enjoy about working at HF?

Easy, the differing nature of the work that HF does means that no two days or two jobs are the same. I enjoy working with my colleagues and there is a good atmosphere in the office. HF values honesty and integrity and that lines up with my own values. It all means I look forward to coming into work every day because I know I will get a lot done but also have a pleasant experience while I work. HF values its reputation for the level of expertise that we offer and along with their high standards, it has helped contribute to my own career success and I hope that my accomplishments here have helped the company keep up this reputation.


working at HF

HF’s family culture stretches back over three centuries in business yet it means much more than dates and numbers. It’s quite literally, the core of our business. We have diversified and developed abreast of industry advancements and have grown into a group of world-class companies leading the way in next-generation technologies; and all with a family continuity at management level which is rarely seen. With senior-level hands-on management from initial planning to final handover coupled with the opportunity to tap into a wide range of varied services and associated consultants, we can offer our customers unsurpassed levels of genuinely in-house capabilities.

If you would like to know more about HF and the range of services that we can offer across the UK through our branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Belfast and Aberdeen, please contact us.

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