Tips for saving money when hiring an electrician?

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by JoeLink, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Jul 28, 2014 #1

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    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!
     
  2. Jul 28, 2014 #2

    JoeD

    JoeD

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    Call and get estimates. When you talk to the electrician you you can ask him the questions.
     
  3. Jul 28, 2014 #3

    beachguy005

    beachguy005

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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.
     
  4. Jul 28, 2014 #4

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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  5. Jul 28, 2014 #5

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

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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??
     
  6. Jul 28, 2014 #6

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    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.
     
  7. Jul 28, 2014 #7

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    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. . .:D
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  8. Jul 28, 2014 #8

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    Thanks, I'll do that.
     
  9. Jul 28, 2014 #9

    slownsteady

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  10. Jul 28, 2014 #10

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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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.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  11. Aug 5, 2014 #11

    gottodo1

    gottodo1

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    Don't hire one, do it yourself... That's the only advice I can give, but I am an EE so I suppose I'm biased. <-- Punny right?
     
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  12. Aug 8, 2014 #12

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    I've done quite a bit of home electrical work, but some of this stuff is way over my head. Most of what I know was learned while I lived with an EE :)
     
  13. Aug 8, 2014 #13

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    So I got my first quote, lots of great information. The best news is that the electrician saw no reason to replace the Square D breaker box, though a little re-arranging of the breakers is in order. Some of the things in the quote seem high, especially considering there will be no clean up on their part, I'll be fixing and painting the drywall afterward, and the place is completely empty.

    Here's how the quote broke down:

    1. Install an outlet, on a new circuit, directly under the breaker panel in the office. - $225
    2. Install a new outlet in the office closet, directly behind a bedroom outlet, on the same circuit. - $175
    3. Install a new outlet in the bedroom closet, directly behind a living room outlet, on the same circuit. - $175
    4. Install a new outlet in the bedroom, 3 feet above an existing outlet, same circuit. - $200
    5. Install a new outlet in the living room closet and eye level on the wall next to the closet, new circuit (this is the only new pull). - $750
    6. Install five can lights in the kitchen, four can lights in the living room, and one can light in the hall, wired to existing switches/circuits, with attic access. - $3125 :eek:
    7. Move CATV jack to living room closet, run HDMI from living room wall to living room closet. - $450

    What do you guys think?

    I have a couple more estimates scheduled for the week of 8/18.
     
  14. Aug 8, 2014 #14

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    A lot of pros, don't like to work with DIY guys but shop around and find a guy that will work with you. So you can do a bunch of stuff that you can and let him finish it off with the technical stuff.
    Don't be to hard on the prices he charges, he buys from a wholesaler that gives him credit. The problem is, his wholesale price is simular to retail that you could buy it for anywhere. He is only trying to get paid for his time running around to get it or stock it in his truck. So you can save if you run around and get stuff, but if you get the wrong stuff he will want to get paid while he waits for you to correct any mistakes.:)
     
  15. Aug 8, 2014 #15

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Just saw your last post, what is there that you are afraid of doing your self. There is help here.
     
  16. Aug 8, 2014 #16

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    I appreciate the vote of confidence. I'm sure I can do some of it. The items on the list I can't do myself are 1, 5, and 6. Reasons being, the HOA requires a person be licensed/bonded/insured for attic access, and I don't feel comfortable adding circuits and/or doing work on the breaker box itself. At the rates quoted, I'll very likely be doing the other items myself and putting the $1225 into something else.
     
  17. Aug 8, 2014 #17

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    Turn off the main breaker and open the side of the box that has the breakers and then tell us what you are afraid of.
    If the can lights are included, they are or should be the better ones that are rated for heat to work with insulation up there and you want to make sure they deal with that properly as well as look after vapour barrier.
     
  18. Aug 8, 2014 #18

    JoeLink

    JoeLink

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    I'll remove the cover next time I'm there and see what I'm dealing with.
     
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  19. Aug 8, 2014 #19

    gottodo1

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    The costs ARE high compared to doing it yourself but when you consider his costs they're really not that bad, they're just not DIY costs. . All of those are fairly easy and there's TONs of threads here on each topic. Plus with Neal & Villa around, what could really go wrong ;)~
     
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  20. Aug 8, 2014 #20

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    All my advice is garranteed for as long as it take to hit the close button:rofl:
     

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