Electrician Services

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by The old college try, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    So, my attic wiring thread is getting a little long, and I have some questions about hiring an electrician. I grew up with my dad always doing everything himself (yelling at me if I didn't hold the light just right), so I'm not really sure how to go about hiring outside help. I'm thinking of getting a quote from an electrician to go up into my attic to evaluate the existing wiring situation. My thought is to have that done, and then get a quote to have necessary work done to make the place safe. At that point, I can decide on whether to do the work myself or have it done by the electrician. My main question is, will I insult the guy if I choose to do it myself, and is it out of the ordinary to hire an electrician just to test and evaluate the existing wiring?
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    If you call someone and tell them that you want to get a quote for evaluating what needs to be done and giving you a quote for the job, then he will either give you a number for the quoting the job, or tell you he will give you the quote, or may tell you that it costs $xyz but will take that off the price if you give him the job. You don't want a phone quote because that is useless. You want him to know that you want the quote to be itemized for different separable parts of the job so you can control the scope and cost of the work.

    Don't expect him to completely disclose his work plan. He will be bidding on the result.

    He will probably feel good about it because it looks like you are willing to pay for the cost of a quote and the value received. If you do it yourself or hire someone else he has no beef since he has been paid for his quote work.

    If you consider yourself capable of doing the job yourself you should be able to determine whether the quote is what you are willing to pay to get someone else to do it.

    If you want to get other quotes you can tell the other guys what you want done, based on the original quote, but I would not reveal the fact that you have a quote in hand. Those quotes may not cost anything since you are not asking for an assessment; you are asking them to bid to a spec. If you want to later ask the first guy for his best-and-final offer; or give him an offer for the original scope of work, you may do so.

    You must remember the Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules. You have the gold and someone else wants to get your gold. You make the rules and they must sense, without being bludgeoned, that you are making the rules.

    You then have the option of hiring him for the work you want done, or doing it yourself, or give the job to anogther bidder. He may expect you to get more bids and if his price is too high I would probably offer him a price for the job. He may counter-offer with a higher price if he want the job and you should be prepared for that.

    I would make it clear, after the contract is signed, that I wouldn't accept increases in cost unless they were agreed to in priced and signed change orders before he undertakes the task. You don't want any change-order $$surprises$$. The initial scope should be defined in a way that you will be satisfied with the job if you decline all change orders that the contractor may propose. If they discover that you are susceptible to change order up-sells you will have no end of them, and they will always be at a premium price.

    The contract must have a schedule and progress payment terms that will not leave you in the hole if he defaults.

    My experience is that the shortest contract (the least writing), that says only what the end-result will be, is the best contract for the customer. The only exception is where material affecting quality is specified. If he bids a Square D QO panel you should accept nothing less than a Sqaure D QO panel, even if he says something else is just as good or better. Avoid those nasty "for equal" phrases because he will substutute cheap stuff that he says is equal and you will be stuck with his junk.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2008
  3. The old college try

    The old college try Engineering Technician

    Messages:
    104
    Location:
    MO
    Excellent advice. I'm drawing alot of parallels between what you're saying and what I experience on a day to day basis as an engineer. I can see the value in having a well defined scope of services, as I've seen my fair share of change orders from contractors on large scale land development projects. I never realized that dealing with contractors on a smaller scale would be so similar. Thanks!

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  4. SJProwler

    SJProwler New Member

    Messages:
    13
    ^^^^^ That Picture tells it like it is!! ROFL!!
  5. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    988
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    Can I steal that pic....PLEASE? It is priceless!
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,148
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    electrician

    1. Unless you are paying for the evaluation, the electrician is not going to give you a tutorial so you can do it yourself.
    2. If you cannot tell what has to be done yourself, maybe you should not even be thinking of doing it yourself.
    3. Whatever the estimate/quote is, add about 20% to cover whatever comes up during the installation that was not discernable ahead of time. And that may not be enough depending on your house's construction.
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,712
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I grew up the same way, except that Dad held the light some of the time. I wouldn't dream of hiring an electrician, but I also have a good friend who is a Master Electrician to bounce ideas off of. I tried to hire a highly-recommended local plumber once who never showed up or returned calls, so gave up on him and replumbed my house myself. I will call a pro if it requires very expensive tools to do the job, or if a mistake would be disastrous (pulling the well pump out of the well comes to mind), or if the work is too physically demanding for my failing body.

    Back to your situation. I would get some word-of-mouth recommendations for a good independent electrician, give him a call, and be honest with him. Pay him for his time for a thorough evaluation of your situation, and discuss with him your interest and capabilities in doing some or all of the work yourself. If there isn't good karma between the two of you, find another one. A good one will enjoy teaching, and won't mind a bit if someone else does the dirty parts of the job :eek:. I'm reminded of a site supervisor for a local contractor -- I made a smartass remark about how all he seemed to do was stand around all day, and he replied, "I don't get paid from the neck down."
  8. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Thank you for the best chuckle I have had in a while! The first super I worked under in construction many years ago was just like that.
  9. BrianJohn

    BrianJohn DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    151
    Location:
    VA
    I am an electrical test technician and independent inspector would not hurt my feelings, that's what I get paid for. Though generally we do commercial, we have tested inspected a few homes.
  10. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,148
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    remark

    I made a smartass remark about how all he seemed to do was stand around all day, and he replied, "I don't get paid from the neck down."

    He is probably also the super in this story.

    Joe was working on a construction job, but when a friend asked him how it was going, he said, "I was fired". The friend asked how come. Joe said, "Well, I had a set of blueprints and I carried them around all day long while I walked around the project". The friend asked what was wrong with that. Joe said, "The supervisor got jealous and fired me."
  11. rexel

    rexel New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Sounds like a sensible way to go about it The old college try proberly exactly what i would do at least u get to know what a profesional thinks and then you have time to go over twhat theve said as well wouldent rush into it
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    If you asked me, my question would be "what do you mean by 'evaluate existing'???"

    Do you have reason to believe your wiring is substandard? If you are adding on to the house, or want to upgrade the amount of electricity available for modern use, that is maybe a different question, not involving the attic.
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