CHANTILLY, Va. - The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) has announced that its newly updatedSMACNA Reference Manual for Labor Units for Sheet Metal and HVACis now available. The manual provides labor units data for fabricating and installing HVAC materials and equipment. Previously titled theCost Reference Manual, it lists the national average amount of man-hours required to fabricate and/or install a given quantity of each item under project specific conditions ranging from “normal” to “very difficult.”

“The manual will help SMACNA members quantify their labor hours based on different scenarios - because no two projects are the same,” said Rick Freeman, executive vice president of Stromberg Metal Works Inc. of Beltsville, Md. “Using the manual, you grade the difficulty of the project to more accurately determine the amount of labor required.”

The manual contains a 30-page introduction in pdf format that is embedded in an Excel spreadsheet and features a Quick User Guide. An electronic spreadsheet calculates and adjusts the data for specific project types and unique site characteristics. Based on data entered, the spreadsheet will categorize the project’s level of difficulty as “normal,” “difficult,” or “very difficult.”

It provides 138 tables, based on surveys of active sheet metal and air conditioning contractors in the U.S. and Canada, including actual data from numerous projects, along with U.S. government statistics and scholarly reports and journals. The document also offers links to a variety of industry reports and studies on site and project conditions.

Duct materials of all common types are covered separately for fabrication and installation rates by pounds, per hour or hours per piece; fittings and accessories are listed separately, as are reinforcements, tie rods, and hangers.

Freeman noted that the manual is especially useful for change orders and helps the contractor educate the owner on why the price is what it is. “It can quantify the cost, based on the factors entered,” he said. “You can print out the spreadsheet and walk the customer through the project, letting them know the circumstances encountered and what the labor factor would be. It will help to justify the labor costs on each specific change order.”

The manual is available free to members on the Business/Project Management page of the SMACNA website at It is also available to non-members for $475.

For more information, contact Tom Soles, SMACNA’s executive director for member services and market sectors, at

Publication date:06/28/2010