At Best Bid since we sell electrical estimating software many of our customers ask us for advice.
We help people from the lessons that we have learned over the past 30 plus years. The one question that absolutely drives me crazy is HOW MUCH PER SQ FT. SHOULD I CHARGE TO WIRE A HOUSE?
Honestly, this may have worked once in areas where every house looked the same and was wired the same and working for a general contractor without the involvement of a home owner. Projects like single story homes with 4/12 pitch roof, 3 bed, two bath, exactly the same. Even then labor rates and material changed, the fuel to the job changed. It makes as much since as throwing dice to see what you are going to charge.
So to give the caller an answer, I start asking questions.
01, Is the home single story, two story, three stories etc.?
02. Is the home on a slab or crawl space?
A. If the home is two story having a crawl space will allow you to install at least some of your conductors underneath the floor in lieu of having to drill through the second story floor joist.
You will still need to do more drilling on anything above one story.
03. Will the HVAC units be Package or split systems? Gas or Electric.
04. How many kitchen appliances will be in the home?
B. Oven-Double Oven?
C. Range-Gas or Electric?
D. Refrigerator-Freezers-Ice Machines?
E. Warming drawers?
F. Pop up blenders-mixers-Slushy machines- Food Processor-built in coffee maker-espresso machine?
G. Electric Grills?
H. Will there be an island?
I. Micro Wave Vent Hood?
J. Trash compactor?
K. Pretzel Maker-Waffle machine-Soft Serve ice cream-Air Fryers-Toasters-Slow Cookers-etc.?
05. Washing machine-Dryer-Built in Iron?
06. Central Vac?
07. Humidifiers –Air purification-dehumidifiers?
08. Hot Tub-Jetted tub?
10. What type of entertainment systems? Do they need lightning protection? Some systems today easily can go over $50,000.00 and suggest surge protection units.
11. Electric Shades?
12. Swimming Pool?
14. Electric Gate-landscape lighting?
15. How many recessed cans?
16. Ceiling fans?
17. Flood Lights – floor receptacles?
18. Will there be a lighting control system?
19. Will they use electric point of use water heaters?
You get the picture. All of these choices change the service size and cost to wire.
Will it be an underground service or overhead? Will you use CU or AL conductors for the service?
The panel location can make a big difference in the cost to wire a home. Will the panel be sub-feed?
How many times will you meet with the home owner to find out their needs?
It is common to be interrupted on a daily basis to talk over things with a home owner and often make changes that cost you even if you get to charge for them.
Also the 1st story sq. ft. price will cost more in most cases due to the second floor mostly being switches, receptacles, and lights. What NEC code you are under can also greatly change the price.
If you want to make money and stay in business you should perform an estimate like you would do for a commercial project and enter your information into an electrical estimating software such as The Best Bid Hybrid Pro. Also you should write a detailed proposal of what you are to include. Doing a drawing with the Accura Cad PDF Draw software showing the location of everything also helps prevent misunderstandings. Most home owners are not out to cheat you but they are not in the construction business and most differences are from not remembering or not understanding so having everything on a drawing and in writing a detailed scope reduces issues.
Best Bid provides tools to help you survive as a Residential Electrical Contractor by knowing your cost before you start. The problem with this sector of the electrical trade is if you have people in the area wiring for $2.00 or $3, 00 per Sq. Ft. knowing the cost want help you get a job because your pricing is being set by people working out of a truck with no insurance, benefits, and often it is a second job and they are working for a little extra money. Too many Residential Electrical Contractors often don’t know how to estimate cost or either doesn’t have the time to do so. As long as work is flowing they have some money in the bank and they never know they are losing money until work slows down or a customer goes bankrupt and they don’t get paid. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. There are some very successful Residential Electrical Contractors that have it all together. They are usually larger companies that do a lot of work and cover a large area. They want be suckered into wiring by the sq. ft. and provide a real cost per each project they bid
We think everyone’s goal as a Residential Electrical Contractor should be to move to commercial electrical work ASAP. It is a much more stable environment and easier to make money. In commercial electrical estimating most of your completion will be better to bid against. You will be competing with companies that have the same overhead cost as you and will be paying their employees closer to what you are paying. Not having to deal with a home owner that can’t quite make up their mind is also a plus.
The Best Bid, Best Bid Hybrid, and the Best Bid Hybrid Pro can estimate commercial, Industrial, and Residential projects as well as Systems such as fire alarm or structured cabling. Give us a call and let us help you. Bestbidestimating.com 800-941-7028
We have an on-line school for electrical estimating as well www.electricalestimatingclass.com
We can teach you to estimate or estimate better.
Let us help you make the move to a more rewarding career.
Sometimes it is not what you know but who you know that makes the difference. Let our staff at Best Bid help you. Het to know us. We can change your life.