Several years ago, as vice president of estimating for a design-build (D-B) firm, I reviewed our procedures for obtaining testing, adjusting, and balancing (TAB) quotes. It seemed that we were using a very time-consuming process to obtain the needed cost estimates for TAB work. We would arrange for several TAB contractors to come to our office, review our construction documents, and then provide us with a quote for the necessary professional services.

Problems Piling Up

Based on my study of the process, here is what I found out.

  • We would contact three TAB contractors to ask for quotes.

    Comment: In every case, the TAB contractor was a relatively small business and did much of its own work. Each contractor was usually on-site somewhere, performing the actual TAB. As a result, when we called their office, we got their answering machine. Things haven't changed much with communication technology. Today, we probably still have to "beep" them to respond to our request.

  • We would ask a TAB contractor to come into our office to complete a "takeoff" estimate of TAB services.

    Comment: Because these TAB professionals were usually at a jobsite, they would have to make special arrangements to leave a project to come to our office and review construction documents. Finding an appropriate time for them to stop what they were doing and come into our office was an inconvenience, but it was part of doing business with hvac D-B firms and hvac plan-and-spec contractors.

  • We needed to follow up to make sure the TAB contractor was coming in as scheduled.

    Comment: Quite often, the TAB contractor did not show as scheduled, due to unexpected schedule conflicts. Being a small business, each company had only a select few people who could come in and provide the estimate/quote we needed for our project. As a result, we would end up rescheduling a time to come into the office.

    Estimate The Estimate

    When we finally received the price from the TAB contractor, I started to realize that the time and effort on our part (and theirs) was just not worth it. Comparing the TAB quotes to the total hvac project cost, it seemed that we could develop our own estimate for what the TAB work should cost.

    As a result, we worked with the TAB contractors to develop a standardized TAB estimating sheet that allows us to do our own TAB estimates and create a very accurate working quote. It also provides the necessary paper trail to document our assumptions. We can then secure a TAB contractor to do the work when the time comes to provide TAB services. With our TAB estimating sheet, both parties know the scope of work and level of effort entailed.

    A sample of that standard TAB estimate sheet is shown above.ES