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Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 507
redsy, you are 1/2 right. but we don't charge $200 or $300/hr, we charge enough to make $800-$1200 for the day. Since, in all fairness, we only charge our customers for the actual time we are working, and we are only on the actual job about 5 hrs a day. We bill $200 to $300 per billable hour. We just tell them up front what the cost will be.

Kiwi, I tend to agree with Tiger. We've done a whole mess of these projects in the past (used to do some work for a GC who specialized in taking over jobs- he charged the customer a boatload, we charged him a boatload)

but like tiger said, give him a set price to do a thorough inspection. It'll take 2-3 days, but it can be done. You'll find everything but maybe a buried junction box and/or a potential arc fault condition from a staple that's too tight.

in that time, you will learn all the wiring and how the previous ec circuited the house. You'll find missing wires (if any) shorts, broken wires, etc. At that point you can determine what needs to be done and how to do it.

Going in T&M, you need to account for down time (travel to and from the job, etc) Also, what happens when you take longer than he thought? Even with a deposit and only working to that limit, you still defeat the purpose.

the goal is to make money on the job, while making the customer happy. Go in with a blank T&M and see how unhappy the customer is when you request 2-3 $5000 deposits and your still not done because of all the work that the previous guy screwed up.

Good luck. But it can be done flat rate, we've done it probably 2 dozen times over the years with good results. Money in our pocket and happy customers.

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Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,363
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
Let's step back, and look at this situation from a distance....

Customer seems to be a nice guy, but has severed realtionship with the electrician.

Electrician seems to be a nice guy, but has severed relationship with the electrician...

Both say nothing but nice things about the other guy...

Sorry, but my "lawyer alarm" just rang. Folks who so carefully guard their tongues are, in my experience, hiding something, and don't want to have their lawyers playing phone tag!

So, who are you going to believe? You can probably find others who have worked for, or hired, or done business with the electrician. They might venture an opinion as to the sort of guy he is.
Same for the customer.

Otherwise, some folks have been proper in their dealings with me, but other comments they've made have made me question their conscience and ethics. I have, in such cases, ever so carefully removed them from my life. As I see it, it is only a matter of time before they decide to "play" with me!

No one will talk? Remember the saying "birds of a feather flock together." Look at a man's associates. If his friends give you the creeps.... he's likely a creep himself!

Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 1,064
T&M, leaves the owner in wonderland, and can lead to arguments, on every step of the job.

Les, In 6 yrs this has never happened. It is in how you sell it. And then how you perform it.

The other side of the coin would be, you do one contract for "investigating", we'll say the first contract is for $1200. Your tech says it might take a day to look over things.

One hour latter the customer is screaming that you ripped her off becuase it only took one hour to find out everything looks good and just needs finishing. I doubt you'll get paid.

Just looking at both sides fairly, mind you.

Joined: Nov 2005
Posts: 507
Underpromise and over deliver. It's alway easier to give money back to a customer than to get more money from them. Plus the customer always feels better getting a rebate than paying more than expected.

Joined: Apr 2006
Posts: 83

I understand where you are coming from...

I wonder though, when you do a time and materials project, do you give the client a ballpark up front to smooth things over somewhat?

I know that there are some projects that I do, where I am not comfortable flat rating it. I explain all the issues to the customer, and give them an idea of what I think it will take to do the project. I am always a little nervous in this situation, although I've never been burned on it yet... but I have had projects go long in this situation and customers do tend to put a little extra pressure on me to keep to the ballpark that I gave them.

In the end, they feel that I gave them a fixed bid price even though we had agreed it was time and materials, so it takes a little extra to keep them happy. But you are right, it can be done...

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 27
Some great ideas fellas, thanks.

I think I am going with another tip I got and I am requesting a $5000 retainer, from which I will deduct T&M...

The bitch is, I am totally Flat Rate, so I will have to figure a rate based on 90% billable time.....

Thanks agian fellas!

Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
First I would call it a custom home not a spec house. The idea of a spec house is to get it done quick & for less for the builder to put on the market to sell to an unknown buyer. Details are not so important.

A custom home is when the house is built for the homeowner the way they want it. They can take forever because of the constant changes the HO makes once it's half done. Also this can lead to disagreements about amouts due.

You could do a combination of flat rate and T&M. Flat rate on installing fixtures, fans, and devices. T&M on tracing/figuring out, checking, reworking, items.

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 265
Are you willing to take responsibility for the work already done? I've always been reluctant to take over where someone else left off. If you're comfortable with it, I would do T&M, billable each week, with a deposit at the beginning. Just my 2ยข.


"Will it be cheaper if I drill the holes for you?"
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 91
I would make sure to have a release of liability clause in my contract. You do not want to be on the hook for a fire that happened due to improper wiring from the previous E.C.

My 'lawyer bell' went off too when I read that both parties had nothing but nice things to say about each other.

The trim out is the easy part of the job. Not many E.C.'s would walk away at that point unless there were money issues....

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
I like LK's idea about a 1200 dollar fee to inspect all the work and see if the job can be done to your satisfaction.

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