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#188434 08/08/09 02:39 PM
Joined: Oct 2002
Posts: 830
I know we have been over this several times, but I don't do a lot of new houses since the code changes requiring AFCI's pratically everywhere and tamper proof recpts. and I know square ft. pricing is not the best way, but can anyone out there give me a going price per square ft. that you've tested and come out reasonably good on? Especially someone in North Carolina. I know prices are different up north and other places. I'm talking a "basic" wiring job with nothing special, just regular lights etc.. no frills.
I'm thinking around $ 3.65/sq. ft. to $4.00/sq. ft. Anyone bid this way have an idea. I'm reasonably sure I won't be bidding against you so any help would be deeply appreciated smile

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Joined: Jul 2004
Posts: 9,796
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Actually I can understand why a "per foot" price would be a good sanity check in residential even if you do have a more complicated bid process.
I would suggest an "adder" for the extra bathrooms (and kitchens if they have them). Other than that you are really just complying with 210.52 in most homes and that is a constant plus a sq/ft adder.
The open question is "low voltage". That could be anything from a little stub of bell wire from the demark location, poking out of a wall somewhere to an extensive structured wiring system.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,335
Estimating by square foot is a risky way to cost a project. get too high you will not get the job, too low it will cost you. Square foot cost should at best is a ballpark estimate, not a quoting tool.

I typically do my estimating per device and type of device. What I do and maintain is a work sheet to do assemblies with. For example and the costs do not reflect any actual costs and material:

Duplex receptacle $1.00
Faceplate $0.89
One gang nail on box $2.89
20 feet of 12/2 Romex $5.00
Six Romex staples $2.37
Labor for boring and installation $25.00

Assembly total: $37.15

I make an assembly cost for each item then when I do a take off, I just count up each assembly, multiply the cost, then and OH&P the viola!, a good estimate. More assemblies you have, the more accurate the cost would be but more work. If you have a spreadsheet program, you can build your own templates and by dumping the unit cost of you materials at the top, the quantities in the middle, at the bottom you should have a good, solid estimate every time.

"Live Awesome!" - Kevin Carosa
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 22
RH1 Offline
Most of the new houses I look at do not have electrical plans. This seems to be a trend. Since the GC is not paying for me to create an electrical plan, (so I can do a proper takeoff) I shoot a bare bones square foot price and include item pricing for additional cans, etc...

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
the problem is the sq ft. formula doesn't work when the house shrinks to a 600 sq. ft 'starter' home with the same amenities and appliances a 6000 sq. ft house has


Joined: Jul 2004
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That is why I said your estimate should start with a base number and then have a per foot adder, like article 220 and 210.52.

Greg Fretwell
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 22
RH1 Offline
For starters, you should know your material costs down pat. In my spreadsheet I have the exact prices I pay for 100 items. My assemblies are "real world" assemblies, but are parts only, no labor.

I bid a job by arriving at the exact cost for parts. Then I add labor. New houses aren't as plentiful these days as they used to be but when I was doing them every day, I was extremely confident bidding by the foot.

If you bid a 1500' house at $3 per foot, you will get the job and if you know how to work efficiently, you will do OK. However, there's something I call the "Large House Phenomenon", as houses get bigger, your square foot parts costs begin to drop. Around here if you bid a 3000' house at $3 per foot, you will be too high.

Obviously you add extra charges for sub panels, cans, low voltage.

My "standard" per foot price includes:

200 amp underground service
Wiring to code
Dishwasher and Disposal wiring
3 phones and 3 TV's
AC wiring within 20' of panel
4 interconnected smoke detectors.
10 recessed cans
Door bell and chime
3 ceiling fan boxes and fan assembly

I won't tell you what I charge per foot for this as I adjust for ceiling heights, etc, and pricing is a very local thing. But if my customer asks "how much will you charge me to wire a 2200' home?" I can without batting an eye give him a price and then enumerate all the items that price includes (see above).

After every job I thoroughly audit the job and see how I did, this provides the Feedback Loop you need to adjust your prices.

Sometimes I'm so busy I don't have the time to do a room by room takeoff, so I'll square foot it and tack on the extra goodies.

Square foot pricing does not mean pulling a number out of your butt, it means that if you know your costs and productivity expectations and you track and analyze everything, you can price jobs as accurately as assembly bidders.

Walk through your house right now, do a room by room takeoff. Add up all the assemblies and come up with what you would charge to wire your own house. Divide that price by your total square feet (I always include the garage, since I'll have to wire it) and the good news is you now have a baseline for square foot pricing.

The bad news is your price is too high! LOL.

Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,370
Likes: 1
Cat Servant
I recently went through something similar with a commercial quote. I was asked "how much to wire a hair salon of this size?"

I gave him a price. Later he bragged that the guy he hired charged much less.

The other guy didn't wire a 'hair salon.' He just added a few plugs to a newly divided commercial space.

I look at the plans, and that's what they submitted to the city - a simple division of a commercial space. Not a 'hair salon.' None of the necessary dedicated circuits, required ventilation, etc.

The point is: no quotes without plans. Be ready to re-do your quote every time they change the floor plan.

Off topic: That job has other issues, and I'm delighted I won't have to deal with them down the road.

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