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#46806 01/03/05 09:21 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
There sould be a set of archetural plans for the house. Some one has those for permitting purposes to build the house structure. This is usually where you can determine the sqft before the house is built.
That is what I base my quotes on. Any additional building get additional work as a change order.
An example is plans calling for an unfinished basement not counted in the living space sqft calcs. Frequently these basement become finised before the HO moves in or shortly there after.
Using those a page plans you can design the electrical system on a per hole basis the divide by sq ft for your bidding to GC's and by keeping the design be able to show what is and is not included in yor bid.
It is a bit of extra work to set up but it sure helps when you have to get change orders and/or extras.

#46807 01/03/05 09:45 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 17

If you took the area off of the drawings and made accurate calculations from those drawings then you can not be over what you figured unless the drawings were not accurate.

I just got back into wiring new homes and have been tracking everything about them. I can tell you everything about my history for this particular builder, cost per sq ft, labor per sq ft, sq ft per hour etc. When I bid to somebody else I have a good base line from which to estimate. However you have to watch when you get into custom because of expectations. You have to at least look into what the customer is going to expect. Look at what types of lighting and other fixtures are spec'ed. Make sure that the two of you are on the same page.

It sounds like the customer had one set of expectations and you had another. Go back over your contract documents and see what you told them, see what they told you, it may be a misunderstanding or it may be a case of misrepresentation on their part. Either way the sooner you address the problem the sooner it will be resolved, or not, but it won't go away at this point.

Good Luck

#46808 01/03/05 10:06 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 494
I do not think there was any intentional misrepresentation. I felt that everything was ok until I realized that there was more sqf than I was told. To be honest I never calculated the sqf myself before now.

I am still trying to decide how to calculate it. Only two sides are unbroken the other sides are oddly shaped. SQF is calculated by L*W but what if the structure is not perfectly sqaure? I just want to calculate total sqf inside the exteriro walls.

I think the calculations will come out ok but I will have to get the actual sqf to be sure.



#46809 01/03/05 10:23 PM
Joined: Feb 2002
Posts: 840
80% load is all you are allowed right?

If you are talking about a service, no, the 80% factor does not apply to service calculations.

For some reason, many electricians believe that the 80% factor applies to everything, but it does not.

The "80% rule" only applies to continuous loads (3 hrs or more) and in a dwelling unit they will be few and far between, if you have any at all.

Peter D.

[This message has been edited by CTwireman (edited 01-03-2005).]

#46810 01/03/05 10:24 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615

[This message has been edited by Jps1006 (edited 01-03-2005).]

#46811 01/03/05 10:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
Can you break it down into squares and have triangles left at the irregular areas? Then it is base times height divided by 2. Base is any side. Height is measued from the base to the angle (tip) on the opposite side.

Hang on, let me find a link and edit this..........

sorry about the double post

[This message has been edited by Jps1006 (edited 01-03-2005).]

#46812 01/03/05 10:49 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 449
I frequently get plans to bid from with no electrical on them. I tell the GC or homeowner up front that I will draw on the plans what I am pricing and let them know I keep the copy I draw on. If they want the drawings to shop around the charge for design/layout is $500.00. The electrical contractors I know who bid by the sq.ft. estimate a job by the opening and divide their total figure by the sq.ft. The guys I have known in the past who actually bid by the sq.ft. are no longer in business. I should also point out that I do not do tract houses, I do custom homes. I did a few tract houses years ago and figured out that you had to sacrifice quality to make any money. I would rather work a factory job for wages than wear out tools and equipment as well as by body for the same hourly wage. I too am a sole proprietor and have been for 25 years. I don't see how "from a clean slate" you could "easily" wire a 5400 sq.ft. house with all you listed on a 200A service. Do the load calc. It's over 200A. Sooner or later it's going to get cold and both of those heat banks are going to kick in. What if supper is in the oven, clothes are in the dryer and someone is taking a hot shower when that happens? At 125' between the pole service and your panel, don't you think VD will be a factor? I hope the panel you put in had a copper bus. I was called to a house 3 years ago on Christmas eve that had lost their electric heat. It was a new 5800 sq.ft. house going through it's first winter. Total electric. 200A service with a 200A MB 40 ct alum bus panel. The (2)60A breakers for the strip heat had the alum bus burned in two.

#46813 01/04/05 08:56 AM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 494
Thanks for the reply. Fred, your putting words in my post..I said I could easily wire a 5400 sqf home from a clean slate...I never said that I would use the same equipment and devices used in this post.

Relying totally on electricity where I live is insane. Sometimes the power will go out for days due to severe storms and ice. I would either use gas/propane for my heating and cooking, hw and dryer..

voltage drop on a 4/0 cable from 125 feet is less than 5%. I use all SQ-D equipment. Never had a single problem in 27 years. I have seen single pole breakers stop tripping though.

The total square foot on the house is 4800 sq feet not including the 790.5 sqf ft garage so I do not see any problems.

You said.
"The electrical contractors I know who bid by the sq.ft. estimate a job by the opening and divide their total figure by the sq.ft. The guys I have known in the past who actually bid by the sq.ft. are no longer in business."

Lets consider that a moment...although you did not give all the information I need to compare I can assume that you will charge a certain dollar amount for each opening. It doesnt even matter what you charge per opening.

If you have a $10000 estimate and a 5000 sq. ft house and you divide that I get:


Is that $2? You got me.

If you have a $20000 estimate and 5000 sq. ft house you will not get the job so it doesnt matter.

Please enlighten me as to how this works so that I may understand you more clearly.
So far I can not imagine how this would work even for a sole proprietor who can charge less than a business with 5 or more employees if they want to.

Say you have a 5000 sq. ft home and estimate the cost at $10000 then divide by the opening...say there is 100 openings, then you are charging $100? More openings and you get even less. I dont get it.

Another way I can think of..

If a house has only 100 openings (just an example) and it is 5000 square feet then according to my example I get 5000/100=50. So are you charging $200 per opening? Still dont see it.

Why would you divide anything?

Try the per opening method..

If I use $35 per opening that is $3500 based on 100 openings.

If I use $70 per opening that is $7000 based on openings.

I would have to charge $100 per opening on a 100 opening home to match the starting point on a per sqf bid. I can imagine the look on a clients face when you say that the cost is $100 per opening!

Even if there was 200 openings that is $20000 and you can't get $20K to wire a 5000 house where I am at even if it is a custom.


Lets look at my method:

$2 per sqf for required wiring and standard appliances. Anything beyond that is extra and I do not pay for fixtures I will only install them if they are on the job. I provide all recept, switches, smokes, phone jacks and cable tv outlets. If I have to return for any work it is $45 per hour. This includes a couple phone jacks and a cable tv outlet in the living room, and all bedrooms. Cat 6 cable is extra and I also wire the garage door opener controls as well. I include a service with the $2 sqf but not the conduit to the poco. If it is overhead then I will throw that in. All my work is warranteed for a year or more if I decide.

So given 5000 sqf home I get:


Recessed cans go for $65 a peice and I always end up with a few thousand dollars in extras on a large custom home. I am happy. For now I do not see a better method.

I have even figured up material and manhours to do the job and that is about the best method besides per square foot. Even if you figure material and manhours you will come out better on per sqf bids I think.

I have done all kinds of bids, turn key, by the opening, by the sqf, actual cost, etc.

I am sure there are more opinions on this. I use a little program called the National Electrical Estimator that is pretty good.

Thanks for the comments...



[This message has been edited by mustangelectric (edited 01-04-2005).]

#46814 01/04/05 12:11 PM
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 615
I don't necessarily see a problem with Mustang's method. Whether by the opening or by the square footage, there is give and take on both. By the opening, you do better on multigang switches and countertop outlets, but not as well on openings in a garage with a tall ceiling. Square ft. you do better on a large great room with few walls, but worse in small bedrooms with lots of wall space. Like he says, the square foot number just gives him code minimums, if it's not required by code, it's extra (am I understanding that right?)

Then the custom stuff gets counted up at the per opening price right?

Some might say "well why not just count the whole job by the opening?" But it sounds like you're saying you get a better base price your way.

Bottom line, what's most important is the bottom line. As long as it pays the bills and leaves enough left to make it worth the hassle.

#46815 01/04/05 12:48 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 494
I seem to be making more money using the sqf method. I am not saying that if i get a room addition or a remodel that I do not bid a lump sum. These jobs are usually either hard dollar or pretty tight depending on circumstances. I have seen them go both ways.

But in my world there is a lot of competition out there and sometimes you see competition and sometimes you dont. I have seen as low as a buck seventy five for residential. For instance I get a lot of call from private individuals and they very rarely know anything about what they need electrically. They just want the minimum stuff. That is fine I will do any required job for $2 a sqf. then when you add the extras, like recessed cans, dimmers, undercabinet lights, huge pendant lights or a light in every closet and extra bath lights and outdoor lighting, extra cable and phone outlets, the list goes on.

I charge $65 per recessed can, $85 for a remodeler, $125 for flood light outlet, $45 for a cable outlet and $55 for a voice/data outlet, $45 for power outlet, ceiling fan outlet with dual switching is $125, Switch outlet single $45, switch outlet three way $55, and switch outlet 4 way $65. A 240v circuit is an extra $200 and if it is GFCI it is $350. Arc fault is $65 per outlet and so is a GFCI. Extras add up pretty fast.

If i get $13000 out of a job then $2500 may go to material, $300 for gas, and the rest is in my pocket. I may spend 40 to 50 hours total on a 5000 sqf home. So that is :



$204 dollars an hour is good money anywhere!

If I take $20 per hour of that and put back into my business and take out for my taxes then I figure I will stick with my method.

I am booked up till next year right now! I get most of the jobs I bid on.



Thanks for the replies...



[This message has been edited by mustangelectric (edited 01-04-2005).]

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