As a recently licensed electrician I have questions regarding the typical hourly rates of electrician's in my local area. Speicifically I am concerned that I may be under charging. I base this entirely on reports of customers who in some case claim to have paid as much as twice as what I would have typically charged for residential work. Most of my estimates are based on methods I was able to gather from my grandfather years ago and needless to say he is no longer around to guide me in this area... and I would like to know what others are typically charging in reference to new construction, service changes, etc. I'm in central Suffolk, Long Island, NY... I know how competitive this business can be - any honest help here???
I was all set to tell you to have a look at ImproveNet's website and their Project Tools page ( http://www.improvenet.com/projecttools/index.html ) for an easy, zip code based estimator, but they don't have an online estimator or project calculators for electrical work. I know they use zip codes if you submit a request for a referral on their 'Find a Contractor' link on their Services page( http://www.improvenet.com/services/index.html ) and I assume the referral info comes back with a ballpark estimate based on the project description. I wonder why they don't include electrical estimates though.
First let me explain that I live on eastern Long Island and that the customer base here is largely residential and small commercial. When I first was exposed to portions of this type of discussion almost 30 years ago (I was maybe 12 years old) there were only a very small - perhaps less than a half dozen - local residential electrician's. There was only one slightly larger outfit that preferred larger commercial type work - and they were related through marriage. At that time they were all very competitive (there was less work available), but it appeared to me that most through mutual agreement had opted to charge roughly the same prices. I get the distinct impression here now though, that many are simply charging whatever the market will bear, and as a result, there is a huge disparity in pricing...
I currently feel that if I stick to a $40. an hour minimum that I am very possibly undercharging and short changing myself, and yet there are times when I find it difficult to collect the 40/hour so... I'm just curious as to what others are charging. Obviously, if it is a smaller job for say an addition or whatever, it may be quite possible to inflate the price somewhat... And what about a really small job like an attic fan? Do you charge time and materials? an hourly rate? or do you charge a flat fee and inflate the estimate? or does it just depend on how hungry you are at the time and how much this particular job appeals to you? And what of "builder prices"? Obviously this is a highly competitive area but one that can help provide a more stable base. So do you try to remain "highly" competitive, meaning you work for much less than your $40/ hour? and then try to correct the inbalance through customer "extras"? And if so, how well does this work out? These are the types of questions I asked years ago as I was growing up working for my grandfather. Unfortunately he was always intentionally vague in his response. His prices were a delicate balance born of experience, based on his requirements as related to overhead, the cost of living here, and his desire to keep busy... One of the questions I have... Do you find your own hourly rates vary according to the particular job? Or do you try to stick to an hourly / weekly average?
Pieces, Without looking at the other threads mentioned by Tiffany, I would say that you are asking the wrong question? The first thing that you need to do is determine how much it's going to cost you to do business. If you determine how much it's going to cost, it's not hard to determine how much to charge. The next question is how much business can you sell, install, bill, and collect for the next year? This is your sales goal. Then, you go out and meet that goal. Pieces, you go out there, and convince people that "you" are the man for the job, and if "you" live up to "your" word, customers won't care how much you charge because the extra that they pay you will be money well spent. Ed Tyler has a good book called "Estimating Electrical Construction", I would invest the $20.00 to buy it. "Mark Up and Profit in Construction" by a guy who's last name is Stone is another that I would read. The latter is for housing contractors, but it applies to electrical contractors as well. Keep up the fight, and good luck from Texas. Doc Estimator HMEL #688