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#21206 - 01/28/03 07:42 PM Looking for advice and info
remarked Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/02
Posts: 12
Loc: Tulelake, CA USA
Hello everyone!

We have a 1920s house which is going to be upgraded electrically. We have had 3 electricians look at the job and 2 submitted bids (both under $4000) and the 3rd would only do time and materials which we prefer not to do. Is it customary for the homeowner to present the selected electrician with a contract?

What has your experience been with arc fault breakers? Is this a new and untested by time technology? Are they reliable? Do you recommend?

The electrician will be installing rewired antique ceiling light fixtures. Comments??

In some of my past postings I was asked to submitt pictures. They are under "Our Old House-1920s" posted 12/24/02 in "Photos Submitted for Discussion". Your critiques/observations are welcome!

Thanks for your help in this adventure.

remarked aka De Kramer
lavarock@cot.net

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#21207 - 01/29/03 12:13 AM Re: Looking for advice and info
George Offline
Member

Registered: 02/23/02
Posts: 380
My wife says when you form a partnership you should include terms for breaking up.

When I hire a licensed tradesperson ...

I use a contract that says everything that is engineered is to be installed according to the engineering. Everything that is not engineered is to be installed according to code. Everything else is in accordance to the plans. Everyone posts a performance bond.

For HVAC, electrical, and plumbing:

All holes and notches in any member will be engineered by my engineer and made by my carpenter. Any holes or notches in any members not engineered by my engineer or not made by my carpenter will be repaired by replacing the member. The replacement will be done by my carpenter under the direction of my engineer. Their usual hourly rates will be charged and the HVAC/electricl/plumbing contractor will pay the cost for the repair and any delay related costs.

-----

If you know the workers, no contract should be necessary. If you don't know the workers, no contract is enough.

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#21208 - 01/29/03 12:59 PM Re: Looking for advice and info
mountainman Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/02
Posts: 54
Loc: Richmond Va. U.S.A.
I would have a contract each way, if I new the contractor or not. A contract will cover you in most unfortunate events that may occur. I would also send your antique fixtures to a lamp shop and have them rewire the lights. As far as arc fault, they are required by code. I have read only positive things about them. I personnaly are going to have them installed in my new house. Good Luck
Joe

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#21209 - 01/30/03 10:11 PM Re: Looking for advice and info
nesparky Offline
Member

Registered: 06/21/01
Posts: 650
Loc: omaha,ne
In that old a house, the only way I will bid is time and material. Have run into too many problems along the way- most no one knew the existed untill walls were opened up. This is a better way because when the problems occur, you can discuss other options without the change order discussion.
You also can but I do not recomend halting the work if a severe problem occurs with realitively little trouble. Also if you change on what you want, it is usually not a big deal.
On a hard dollar contract all the above can be causes of a lot of heartburn.
If you know exactly what you want and what is proposed then go with the firm price. But do not be supprised if something goes wrong.
Too many of those fine old houses had thing done in the past that will cause a problem today. Hopefully the will be minor and easily fixed.
I have one that now will cost the home owner a bundle. When the plumber opened up a wall to run pipe upstairs, they found the main support beam broken. A structorial inspector from the city condemened the house.
Now all work has stopped untill the bank approves more money. Why this was not found before has become the subject of a law suit.
On this project I have no idea when or if the work will be done. Because of my T&M bid the owner is square with me. Everyone else is waiting for thier money.
_________________________
ed

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#21210 - 01/30/03 10:36 PM Re: Looking for advice and info
amp-man Offline
Member

Registered: 06/23/01
Posts: 144
Loc: Sacto, California US of A
remarked--

What exactly will be done for the fixed bids?
If the bidders said "wire to Code", that leaves a LOT of leeway. Leeway as to number of general lighting/convenience outlets circuits, whether each room has a ceiling fixture (and if so, whether the box is rated for a fan or heavy fixture), and so forth. And leeway on quality of materials--the bid may include the cheapest receptacles available, and they may be installed using the spring backwire holes (Code-compliant, but generally considered a second-rate technique).

So for the bids,, by all means write up a contract that spells out what will be done, how it will be done, and what materials will be used.

The fixed bid guys will always be looking to cut corners in time spent and materials, to maximize their profit. The guy who wants to go with a time and materials approach may not be motivated to move as fast as the fixed-bid guy. Get references on the T&M guy, if he's been an efficient and diligent worker on past jobs, he'll probably be one on yours.

To George--Wow! Only your carpenter can drill a hole in a member! Do you mean that the electrician must point to each place he wants a hole in the framing, and then the carp drills it? That sounds real efficient.

Or are you talking about engineered members like I-beams or trusses? Even then, it seems wildly inefficient to not trust the sparkys and wetheads to properly drill the holes they need. If you don't trust them to know what's acceptable, give them the fact sheets describing acceptable holes and notches. And backcharge them if they screw up.

And remarked--e-mail me at cap2053@aol.com if you want to discuss criteria in detail.

Best of luck in your restoration--

Cliff

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#21211 - 01/31/03 06:35 PM Re: Looking for advice and info
The Watt Doctor Offline
Member

Registered: 12/23/01
Posts: 443
Loc: Mont Belvieu, TX
Remarked,
I think that one of the most important things that you can do is "quanitify" everything with the person doing the work. Along with quantity, I would add value to each item. Another way to put it would be to itemize the bid. Don't take the "we'll do it all for x amount of dollars...." routine. You need to know exactly what you are getting for your money, and another key is to make them do what they say, or they don't get paid.
If you decided to go T&M, you could set up a reasonable budget for material, and then try to determine a range of time that the job could be completed in. With that in mind you could set a "price not to exceed".
I wish I could give you more, and better advice, but without being there, I can't. Just remember:
1. Determine the scope of work
2. Quantity
3. Price each item
4. Make them up hold their end of the deal
5. If they don't, then they don't get paid

I wish you the best,
Doc
_________________________
The Watt Doctor
Altura Cogen
Channelview, TX

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#21212 - 01/31/03 06:44 PM Re: Looking for advice and info
Electric Eagle Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/02
Posts: 928
Loc: Alpharetta, GA
We recently completed a project on a very old house. We did it for time and materials, which is unusual for us. I was very glad we did it that way. If I had been pressed to bid a firm price, I would've bid around $15,000. However, after all was completed and changes made we charged $42,000 using T&M. I'm telling you this not to scare you, but to show how different things can be from the plans to actuallity in an old house. Also, the owner of the house we did constantly changed things and the original plans looked nothing like the final project.

If I were the owner(you), I would want a fixed price. Just make sure everyone is clear exactly what is expected and what happens if a change comes up or if something unexpected is found in the walls. Check the company out completely. If they seem too cheap, they probably are and will come back for more money.

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