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Old 07-20-2010, 12:11 PM   #1
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Cost savings?


Hi folks!

I'm trying to finish out my basement now and have arrived at the electrical phase after finishing the carpentry myself... I'm not so electrically savvy , though, so I'm considering hiring an electrician for the job.

What I want to know is how much, if any, can I save by putting up switchboxes, outlet housings and recessed lights myself - and then just have the electrician run the copper and hook it up to the breaker. Does it make sense to do this? Or should I just hire the whole thing out?

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Old 07-20-2010, 01:33 PM   #2
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I do not like to do jobs that are started by the HO.
Most of the time, the receptacle/ switch boxes are not in the right place and has to be redone.
When I do a basement, I supply everything except the light fixtures.

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Old 07-20-2010, 01:55 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply... good to know...

is there anything that I can do as a homeowner to save money on this? Or is it just all-or-nothing?
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:21 PM   #4
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Most electricians it is all or nothing.
Others may have different views.
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:22 PM   #5
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I don't give much discount, if any at all, when a homeowner does as you are proposing. Many times I will give a very high estimate to avoid working for them at all.

When a customer buys the material, he is not avoiding the contractor's markup. That markup is part of the contractor's rate, he needs that to run his business. If you take that away from him, he simply moves that markup into the hourly rate he is going to charge. So you are still paying the extra money, but now you just lost the warranty on all that material and equipment.

What you are proposing is similar to going to a restaurant with your own partially cooked steak and asking them to finish cooking it for you at a discounted cost.

Roughing in a basement can be pretty easy and straight forward with a little help, as long as you are good with tools and willing to learn.

With forums like this and a digital camera, you can get all the help you need to do the work yourself.

Good luck!
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Old 07-20-2010, 02:56 PM   #6
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The skills to do basic electrical running lines etc are fairly easy to possess or obtain. The knowledge is really the key consideration, you'll have to teach yourself basic methods/requirements to meet code. If you are prone to sloppy-ness or laziness then I would just hire someone.

The only way you will be able to save money with the contractor is to put in the boxes and run the wires to and from the boxes up to the breaker box (but don't connect to the breaker box just get them to the right location). Every single thing you want the electrician to wire in must be completely visible so they can inspect it and determine if they are willing to 'claim' it as their work. You would of course have to call your local contractors and see if they are willing to agree to that, most won't.

All this being said, if you are able to run all the wires and put in the boxes then you are likely able to finish it up yourself too, just come here when you need any help.

Finally, running the wire and putting in junction boxes and such won't take any competent electrician that much of the total time in an unfinished basement, so the savings still won't be much.
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:30 PM   #7
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yeah, that's what I was afraid of... sounds like there's no way around this part of the project being expensive. Running the wire is the part that I have doubts about.

I'm sure if someone would show me how to do it, it'd be cake for normal switches, outlets and lights... but I don't personally know anyone who's done it...

thanks guys
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Old 07-21-2010, 12:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Satori View Post
yeah, that's what I was afraid of... sounds like there's no way around this part of the project being expensive. Running the wire is the part that I have doubts about.

I'm sure if someone would show me how to do it, it'd be cake for normal switches, outlets and lights... but I don't personally know anyone who's done it...

thanks guys
There are a lot of books out there, you can even go to Home Depot and pick up a book called Wiring 1-2-3. Read it, when you're done come here and ask questions. If you can swing a hammer and use a pair of pliers, you can rough in a basement as long as you have some guidance and the willingness to learn.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:01 PM   #9
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I am DIY-er who does electrical. I'm going to suggest you hire it out. Since it is new work I don't think the cost would be too bad and I think the project is too big to be a "first project." It took me a while of doing small projects (e.g., replacing an outlet) under the guidance of others before I felt comfortable tackling bigger projects. There is a lot to learn about electrical, the codes are regularly updated (which means books get out of date quickly) and the work has to be close to perfect. (Minor carpentry mistakes or shortcuts may look bad, but they won't burn down the house in 10 years.)

Of course, if you have the time and interest, go ahead. But my suggestion is to hire this out and take on smaller electrical projects first. Sounds like you're leaning that way anyhow.

Robert
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Old 07-21-2010, 04:21 PM   #10
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I agree that it would be best to hire the entire project done, BUT, in my opinion, there is one major aspect of such work that is severely overlooked in many cases; planning, and that is where you can step in. Before calling anyone for an estimate, make a sketch of the area, set down, with your significant other if applicable, and decide where you would like certain switches, receptacles, etc., and do not hesitate to provide this information to the contractor. He or she may tell you that you can't do this or that because of code, but the two of you can then work that out. As examples, if you think that you may add a closet in a certain corner, perhaps some accomodations can be made now. If you plan to put a full-size sofa along a certain wall, you may want to add a receptacle or two, to ensure that they don't all end up being behind furniture. Do you plan to set a refrigerator, home entertainment system, or something like that in a certain area. Again, a little fore thought is where a homeowner can help to ensure that they receive their money's worth.

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