I have had my Electrical Contractors license in California for over two years now. I have mainly done residential service work which is an excellent way to break into the industry in my opinion.
However, I'm wanting to bite off a bit more. I'm interested in wiring a semi-custom home. It would be 2500 to 3500 sq. ft.
Obviously I have to sit down and make a detailed list inspection of the plans and make a material list. As a guide, I'm wondering if anyone has any short cuts they use for price per sq. ft. When bidding. Actually, this and any other advice would be appreciated that helps with bidding new residential construction.
I'd like to help, but around here new residential is cut-throat, cut-corner, back-stab, no-profit work. Generals price shop and are loyal only to their increasing profit margins. If you starve on the project...too bad. When I started I thought I'd have it made if I got in with a general, but residential-after-the-builder and commercial have been much better.
Byron, I'll second Dave's post, as will many others here. Most of the new home electricians in my area will wire an entire McMansion for what us "after-market" guys get for a custom kitchen.
No waiting for the builder to get around to paying (or never paying)you either.
If you do decide to wire that house, do not take short cuts like giving a square foot price. It's an invitation to an all you can wire buffet. The builder and/or homeowner will add, delete, move, change and rewire everything in that house 10 times----all for that one low, low price.
Count every electrical device on those plans. Have them specify what grade devices they expect, where they need dimmers and exactly which fixtures they want.
Watch out for the architects' disclaimers about how his electrical plans are diagramatic only, he doesn't know how you will fit 7 switches on a 6-inch wall but you must consult with him before relocating them. He has no idea what the actual electrical codes are so you must catch all his mistakes, inform him of his mistakes, and ask his permission to change his mistakes.
Most importantly, know how much it is going to COST YOU to put in each of those devices and add a healthy profit. That is the main lesson I have learned from Les (LK) and everyone elese here over the past few months (thanks guys).
[This message has been edited by Pat@Amber (edited 07-22-2005).]
My advice is to leave it alone unless you have some cheap help and want to do a volume business. The profit margin is just to low on new homes. Why take more risk for less money. The most successful contractor that I know of has never done a new house ( service only ).
You can make decent money in residential. We do. But we don't really bid jobs. We have a pricing menu and the final bill is based on actual work performed. We use a combination of square foot and extras. The bill is usually half sq ft and half the extras. The biggest mistake you can make is wanting the job so bad that you underbid it. Don't be afraid to sell yourself on quality not price. I tell a prospective contractor that if he wants a cheap job, use another contractor, if he want a quality job done in a timely manner, then consider paying for it.
I have a philosophy that if I am low bidder I don't want the job.
I have a sq ft price I use but it's a number for me to use, not a customer. I use the sq ft price to get a good estimate then go over the job to see if I need to add for anything extra thats not in the normal buildout. .
[This message has been edited by Joey D (edited 07-25-2005).]