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Old 07-28-2014, 10:02 AM  
JoeLink
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Default Tips for saving money when hiring an electrician?

I just purchased my first condo, built in 1970, which I’m currently in the process of renovating. I’m at the point where I need to find an electrician for a list of maintenance and upgrades I'd like to have done. I've had a couple offer to do side work, but the HOA mandates they be licensed and insured (which I'd prefer anyhow!). I don't have a large budget, but I'm not 'cheap', I won't cut corners to save a buck.

Here's the electrical list:

  1. Inspect breaker box, replace if needed (1970 Square D box).
  2. Replace bathroom exhaust fan. Access to attic crawl space.
  3. Install 7 can lights (kitchen, living room, and hall). Access to attic crawl space.
  4. Wire office outlets to their own breaker, if needed.
  5. Install power outlet in closet next to TV. Separate breaker, if needed.
  6. Relocate bedroom power outlet for TV (raise 5 feet, same stud).
  7. Relocate living room power outlet for TV (raise 5 feet, same stud).
  8. Install new power outlet in bedroom closet.
  9. Install new power outlet in office closet.

Here's the low voltage list:
  1. Relocate coax panel to closet next to TV
  2. Install HDMI panel in closet next to TV
  3. Install HDMI panel behind TV

My Questions
  1. I've heard the markup on electrical materials is very high, and that I should provide my own. Is this a good idea? Will this piss off my contractor? Are there specific things I should provide, and things I should let him provide?
  2. Since there's quite a bit of work here, I should be able to have the work performed under contract rather than T&M, right? I'd really prefer they stick with the quote, and it seems this is the way to go. Any advice here?
  3. Do most electricians charge for travel time? If so, I should factor their location into my selection process, right?
  4. Should I hire a separate low voltage guy, or have the electrician do the work?
  5. I'm pretty handy, and I have free time I could use to help, if it'd make the job cheaper. Is this an option?
  6. Do you have any sort of ballpark as to what I should expect to pay for this?

Thanks in advance!


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Old 07-28-2014, 10:17 AM  
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Call and get estimates. When you talk to the electrician you you can ask him the questions.



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Old 07-28-2014, 11:00 AM  
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I agree with JoeD on this. The one thing to consider buying, or at least knowing what you want, is the fixtures. Lighting and fan. A contractor will need to know them to figure an install. Apart from the labor that's going to be your largest expense.
You know what you want done...which is a good thing. You really can't ballpark any prices because there are lots of variables, especially with a condo. Access and such.
Just call a few contractors and mention your willingness to help.

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Old 07-28-2014, 11:19 AM  
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Thanks guys, that's my plan a little later today. I made the post hoping I could get some insight before I talk to the electricians. I'd like to know what to expect, or at least know enough to spot dishonesty (though this is doubtful, I'm calling reputable places).

I do have attic access and the fan, this one: http://www.homeclick.com/panasonic-f.../p-650365.aspx

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Old 07-28-2014, 12:14 PM  
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Some of that stuff is "side job" kind of work, and if you bring in a licensed guy for the breaker panel stuff afterwards, then you might be okay. But the flipside is that you will have to book two guys, coordinate their schedules, possibly leave walls open, etc. May not be worth it.

Why would replacing the breaker box be your responsibility in a condo??

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Old 07-28-2014, 12:46 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slownsteady View Post
Some of that stuff is "side job" kind of work, and if you bring in a licensed guy for the breaker panel stuff afterwards, then you might be okay. But the flipside is that you will have to book two guys, coordinate their schedules, possibly leave walls open, etc. May not be worth it.

Why would replacing the breaker box be your responsibility in a condo??
I thought about that. Really the HOA only requires the license/insured guy for the attic access.

The breaker box is my responsibility since it's in my condo. Each unit has a separate breaker box. I'm thinking/hoping the one I have is alright.
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:01 PM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeLink View Post
I won't cut corners to save a buck.

[*]Install 7 can lights (kitchen, living room, and hall). Access to attic crawl space.[*]Wire office outlets to their own breaker, if needed.[*]Install power outlet in closet next to TV. Separate breaker, if needed.[*]Relocate bedroom power outlet for TV (raise 5 feet, same stud).[*]Relocate living room power outlet for TV (raise 5 feet, same stud).[*]Install new power outlet in bedroom closet.[*]Install new power outlet in office closet.
For each dollar you spend you should get a dollar's worth of safety or usefulness. IMHO CBs and GFCIs give you your money's worth, not so for AFCIs.


Using nameplate data or Websites, figure the power draw for these items. Check against your electrician's calculations for allocating this power draw to existing or new breakers.

IMHO, breakers that never trip in your place due to your habits and furnishings may be tapped into for additional current draws.
There's something to be said for experience vs. rules. I lengthened a cord on an iron so it could be plugged into an outlet on a different breaker than the ones customarily used for that room.

80 CFM is enough for a 600 cu. ft. bathroom, like 8' x 8' x 9'.
Thank you for info that is hard to find
"at 1/4" water gauge which is the industry standard for performance measurement for Energy Star, ASHRAE, HVI, and LEED for Homes. "
The hard numbers cancel out some of the abundant BS adjectives in this link. . .
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Old 07-28-2014, 01:13 PM  
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Thanks, I'll do that.

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Old 07-28-2014, 05:10 PM  
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never heard of AFCI's before this. (for those also new to this: http://www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/Secti...C89E4004F4B4F7 )

So the first thought that comes to mind is ...if both the gfci and the afci need to be in a circuit, which comes first??

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Old 07-28-2014, 05:28 PM  
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For all pass/fail tests the question of false positives/false negatives comes up. As I understand it, it is not possible in the universe we inhabit to minimize both at the same time.

Siemen's makes an "Intelli-Arc" device for helping electricians troubleshoot these beasts. Forget the DIYers.

The NIST did not answer my e-mail asking if they have a standard "good arc" and a standard "bad arc".

The large number of patents on AFCIs makes me think that the false positive/false negative problem is far from being solved.

IMHO, bad connections usually make themselves known without the help of this extremely sophisticated and expensive device.



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