When preparing estimates, contractors generally use a costallowance figure for plumbing fixtures. Fixture allowances provide budget figures that "keep things moving" during the initial pricing stage, without the mind-numbing details (and hours of work) required to pin down the costs of every single item. But after the bid has been accepted, the real work begins. That lump-sum figure that was so easy to pop in the estimate will now be itemized, scrutinized, and finalized. As co-owners of a busy kitchen and bath showroom, we've had plenty of opportunity to observe the problems that can occur when fixture allowances are handled improperly. To help contractors cope with the sometimes tedious process of fixture selection, we've worked up the five-step process outlined below. Step One: