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Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
Junior Member
Guys I am starting up an Electrical Contracting Division of our current company. We currently do lighting control, home automation, home theatres etc.

We are hoping this will give us an avenue into more of the builders market being able to combine high and low voltage with the benefits of the things I mentioned above for custom builders and home owners. I will need to hire a Master and helpers.

My questions are:
How much capital do you think I need to start with?
How long do you think it will take to have the electrical side earning its keep?
How much stock should be kept in the warhouse or should it be picked up at the supply house?
What should I pay for a Master, Journeyman and Helpers?
How should I charge, by the square foot or by the outlet?

Please comment with any questions or directions you think I should take. Thanks for your time in advance.

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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 316
Maybe you could try and find a Master in your area ,who is experienced in this, Pay him / her a good salary to help you start up and help run it for you. This way you can benefit from their experience.

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
Junior Member
Thats what I would like to do. I am wondering what should I pay a master? Is he going to be bringing business with him? How many helpers does he need in the beginning? How do you find a competent master?

Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
I'll give it a shot:

1. what ever you plan to bill in for 30 days...60 days to play it safe.

2. Should be immediatley if all other things are properly.

3. Stock should be minimal if you are doing new construction. Have the supply house deliver it to the job per job.

4. $20-$35....????

5. I never price by the foot. I would price by the opening.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 34
I'm based out of Katy, Tx which is next door to Houston. To hire a Master to work for you, they have to be in your employ for their license to be valid. Leasing of License is illegal if the Master is not an employee of the company and they can have their license revoked. Wages fluctuate too much-that would have to be negotiated upon hiring conditions.

Generally, Master's don't bring their own personnel - again - they have to be employed by you. As far as finding a good competant Master, check with the local I.E.C. (Independant Electrical Contractors)organization in Houston; they may be able to help you there.

I would suggest if you're starting up around here to Sub out your work to another Electrical Contractor at least until you're well established and have obtained your own Master License or have hired Master Electrician as a permanent employee.

As far as material, buy from supplier and ship direct to job. Eliminate warehouse stock as much as possible and third party handling. If needed, have shipped to your warehouse/location for your people to P/U same day or next day. But, shipping direct to jobsites is the better advantage and less chance of things getting damaged or misplaced. If you're doing a large complex or neighborhood-put a storage trailer in there that will be convienent for all to get their materials at and ship to it.

Never priced by foot can't help you there.

[This message has been edited by Indcom (edited 02-17-2005).]

John C. Harvey
IndCom Electrical Estimates
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
Junior Member
Thanks for all your help. I would also like to know what you guys think start up costs would be. How much of a burn rate I would have a month? Can you all help with that. I am considering paying a Journeyman 12-16 an hour, helpers 8-10. The Master I am not sure about. I am trying to be realistic here because I will be in the position to be doing 50 homes a year minimum and that would be a lot of profit to lose by subing the work out to another company. Any more advice?

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
Be carefull tring to be too big the first year. If your talking about signing a contract to do 50+ homes at $xx amount I would think twice. You don't know your numbers yet. Overhead, reaistic wages, how long to do a home, how much material, etc. It would be ok if you could adjust your rates as you go along but then you don't have as much job security.

Not to p on your parade but you would be much safer starting out small and learning the estomating, job speed, materials used, etc.

I never herd anyone say they made any real $ the first years. I would rather not do the 50+ homes if ods are I will not make a reasonable income the first year.


Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
I disagree with Tom a little. It is different starting out verses expanding your current company. Q3 probably already has several systems in place that will be able to be used in this division.

Q3, have you hired & fired before? Do you have a shop? Have you run several jobs at the same time from start to finish?

I think it is a lot easier to take a solid LV company and expand it than to start a ne EC company from scratch.

Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 7
Junior Member
Guys I think I left out some important information. We currently have a shop, run multiple crews, our head of sales' background is in selling electrical contracting services.

I plan on paying these amounts for labor:
Apprentice $8-12
Journeyman $12-18
Master (no tools) $800 a week

We have access to some good numbers from a few different supply houses in town.

We are looking to be able to do a 3000 living square foot home rough in and trim out total of 5 days on a split of 2 days for rough and 3 for trim. This is on a basic home not a custom.

I would love to know your comments on what I have put together. Especially if you can add advice based on some of the things you have run into in the past.


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