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Old 05-05-2012, 07:09 PM
 
Location: The Ether
250 posts, read 192,651 times
Reputation: 236
Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
We go to supply houses for higher quality materials. We also markup materials just like any other business in this world marks up materials and goods it's nothing new.

The HomeDepots were created for DIYers not professionals. Their are many electrical supplies these box stores do not carry. And don't forget electricians don't just wire houses everything in this world is tied into electric that we maintain and install. So your also paying for that knowledge.

I charged a guy $120 service call that ended up being a loose neutral wire in the panel. Took me less then 10 minutes to fix.

He said your charging me $120 for a 10 minute job to tighten a screw? I said yes sir. Your not paying $120 to tighten a screw... you're paying $120 which the bulk of that price is for my professional knowledge and years of training to know how to fix the problem. Just like a doctor only takes 15 minutes to diagnose that you have a cold or strep throat or whatever and charges you $250+ for a 15 minute visit.

We do the same things as doctors... They have thousands of medical rules to follow we have thousands of codes to follow...they go through years of practical training and schooling, we go through the same...they have continuing education, we have the same...they diagnose complex problems, we do the same...they have to protect the well being of their patients, we have to do the same with safe intallations to protect from shock or electrocution
Amen, brother. It's nice to see another level headed contractor around these parts. So tired of the "contractor is always wrong and trying to rip you off" threads.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,235 posts, read 3,945,963 times
Reputation: 8360
Quote:
Originally Posted by renouvelle View Post
Chrisk327 & PDD - you both make the point that $65.00/hour is perhaps less than the market rate. If that is true, I was not aware of that.

I am now developing the impression that a common procedure among some contractors is to have a sort of bait & switch by quoting a lower hourly figure and hiding fees in materials markups, which they further obscure by not itemizing.

This strikes me as a terrible business practice - particularly for common materials like electrical supplies. Nothing exotic was used on this job.

I hope that this electrician and I come to an understanding. I wish we had nailed this all down before, but through his (from my perception) deviousness, we now have to have a fight.

It would have been better all around for him to charge me $100 per hour for what is a dangerous job and charge me his materials cost marked up by some reasonable (less than 25%) markup. Transparency is always better.
OP, I noticed your last post in this thread was 2 months ago ... I am wondering what happened when you asked the electrician for an itemized bill? Did he explain the extra ~$1,300 in charges for materials?
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Old 05-05-2012, 10:23 PM
 
Location: sowf jawja
1,913 posts, read 5,076,050 times
Reputation: 914
Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
We go to supply houses for higher quality materials.
home depot and lowe's, in my experience, carry identical products as the supply house (for residential products). we cover multiple states in the southeast, so I'm not just talking about my particular hometown.

I've seen their pipe fittings and such, and they're absolute junk and priced like USA made parts (and of course they're not). their small gauge wire always seems a little cheaper though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
And don't forget electricians don't just wire houses everything in this world is tied into electric that we maintain and install. So your also paying for that knowledge.
I wish that was the only explanation we had to give.


to most residential customers, the thousands of dollars and years of our life we spend training for our profession just isn't as valuable as other professionals.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:29 AM
 
Location: Galloway, NJ
1,817 posts, read 2,221,758 times
Reputation: 1520
Quote:
Originally Posted by renouvelle View Post

In my experience the majority of independent electricians that make a living doing minor residential work do not like to deal with retail terms for any supplies. It is very likely that the items required to do the job properly have a list price far higher than what you may see at the big orange box. I suspect that you are grossly underestimating the profit that is represented by the bill you were presented with.
"
Any electrical contractor wouldn't have to even bother to have to go to the store to buy the materials you listed. Any decent electrician would have them on the truck already. Electricians buy receptacles, outlets, and outlet covers by the box, sometimes the case. They are a common item used all the time. They might not have 3 smoke detects on hand, but they should have at least 1 or 2 on the truck. The wire would be the most expensive item on the list. So two days of labor, at $75 an hour, that's $1,200 in labor, and $1,200 in materials. Even if he used a entire roll of 14-3 and 14-2 wire, it shouldn't cost any more than $150 in wire, the other materials are at best another $50, sounds like your being over charged $1,000 to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by southgeorgia View Post
home depot and lowe's, in my experience, carry identical products as the supply house (for residential products). we cover multiple states in the southeast, so I'm not just talking about my particular hometown.
Last time I was doing a job for a friend, I needed 8 outdoor electrical covers (he was doing a major Xmas display), I stopped off at Home Depot and they didn't have the 8 outdoor covers I needed, so I went to a Electrical supply house, figuring they have better selection. I was wrong, much worse selection, I ended up going to two Home Depots to get the parts I needed. I really don't see how electrical supply warehouses stay in business, they might stock less common residential parts or industrial supplies that the big box stores don't carry, but for most items there selection and prices stink.

Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
The HomeDepots were created for DIYers not professionals. Their are many electrical supplies these box stores do not carry. And don't forget electricians don't just wire houses everything in this world is tied into electric that we maintain and install. So your also paying for that knowledge.
The knowledge part has been taken into account, $75 a hour (or did he go with the $65 quote?) was for the electricians "Knowledge" 2 days, or 16 hours or knowledge is worth $1,200, a $2,400 bill for for parts and labor is pretty hard to swallow when the parts clearly do not cost more than $200. I'd be embarrassed to charge any more than $1,600, and that's with a considerable part markup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
#3 Old homes I always go by hourly rate because their are many unexpected problems that could pop up. Like hack handyman and home owner work that is so screwed up...

In closing do you give your doctor the same grief with the bill when he charges you $250 for a 15 minute visit? Do you ask him for an itemized bill on labor and materials used?
You can't have it both ways, You can tell the homeowner the job is going to Cost $2,400 to do, or you can say it's going to be $75 a hour plus materials. If you quote $2,400, your taking a risk that you will run into unexpected issues cause it's an old house, and it might take longer then expected or the other hand it could take less time. If your quoting an hourly rate, your protecting yourself for unexpected issues you may run into, BUT you should be prepared to itemize the bill for materials too. It's easy to hide a high quote in an all inclusive estimate, but not when your itemizing the bill, like you do giving a per hour rate.

Last edited by TechGromit; 05-07-2012 at 11:02 AM..
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Old 05-19-2012, 12:33 AM
 
14 posts, read 11,430 times
Reputation: 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by TechGromit View Post

You can't have it both ways, You can tell the homeowner the job is going to Cost $2,400 to do, or you can say it's going to be $75 a hour plus materials. If you quote $2,400, your taking a risk that you will run into unexpected issues cause it's an old house, and it might take longer then expected or the other hand it could take less time. If your quoting an hourly rate, your protecting yourself for unexpected issues you may run into, BUT you should be prepared to itemize the bill for materials too. It's easy to hide a high quote in an all inclusive estimate, but not when your itemizing the bill, like you do giving a per hour rate.
I don't need to itemize and never do. And if I do its labor=x and materials=y that's a far as I itemize. I am not obligated to show my markup and costs of materials.

Do you ask the chef who cooks your steak how much he pays for the meat? Or when you go shopping at ANY store do you ask the wholesale price of what they pay for products? nope.

So why should I give those details?


I give flat rate prices up front on the bulk of my jobs. On old house rewires it's T&M with an estimated total price keyword estimated.
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Old 05-19-2012, 08:27 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,235 posts, read 3,945,963 times
Reputation: 8360
Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
I don't need to itemize and never do. And if I do its labor=x and materials=y that's a far as I itemize. I am not obligated to show my markup and costs of materials.

Do you ask the chef who cooks your steak how much he pays for the meat? Or when you go shopping at ANY store do you ask the wholesale price of what they pay for products? nope.

So why should I give those details?
But asking for an itemized bill isn't the same as asking how much you are marking things up! As a customer, I would NOT ask for your mark-up, but I WOULD want parts itemized. For example, I was going to have hard-wired smoke detectors installed in my new house (until I discovered by accident that the house is ALREADY hard-wired with smoke & CO alarms). I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask for a line item like "smoke detectors, this many at $ each = $total." The electrician who worked on my last house had no problem itemizing like this. I never asked him, "So how much did you pay for each item?" I assumed he was making a profit, like all businesses, and that was fine. Since he itemized, I could check on what HD charges and if his charges were totally out of line, I probably wouldn't have used him again. That never happened as I found his prices reasonable and fair.

The OP got charges that SEEMED out of line. A simple itemized bill could have cleared things up right away. That is NOT an unreasonable request IMHO.
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:35 AM
 
3,211 posts, read 2,849,941 times
Reputation: 1474
Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
I don't need to itemize and never do. And if I do its labor=x and materials=y that's a far as I itemize. I am not obligated to show my markup and costs of materials.

Do you ask the chef who cooks your steak how much he pays for the meat? Or when you go shopping at ANY store do you ask the wholesale price of what they pay for products? nope.

So why should I give those details?


I give flat rate prices up front on the bulk of my jobs. On old house rewires it's T&M with an estimated total price keyword estimated.
Perhaps, but many of us think that electricians are glorified septic tank cleaners. Oh come on, you think the electrical code is that hard? Let me show you how to make a virtual 3-phase for a single (which is actually 2-phase). I have access to all the code rules, and was legally able to (where I used to live) do all the design and wiring myself. The difference between hiring a wire monkey, and doing it myself is that I wasn't on the 'clock', so I could do a far better job, as I didn't need to make any money. I did it for fun. Let's go into the physics of ground loops, and why the pole transformer should be floating (but it is not). I understand that you know how to bolt a breaker box to the wall, and how to install breakers, and run wires, but that is about it. Come on over, and teach me about the 5kV voltage I have for a 10000B transmitter... (hint, always keep one hand in your pocket).
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Old 05-19-2012, 02:23 PM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
4,235 posts, read 3,945,963 times
Reputation: 8360
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperSparkle928 View Post
Perhaps, but many of us think that electricians are glorified septic tank cleaners.
Wow. Not sure why the need to belittle working people. I wouldn't want to clean septic tanks and appreciate those who do. And yeah, I have a big degree too, but my mom (one of the 2 or 3 smartest people I have ever known) was a waitress and my dad was enlisted Air Force. Not everyone has the OPPORTUNITY to get advanced degrees.

SuperSparkle, it's clear from some of your posts that you know a lot, but you also seem to be the biggest snob on these boards. (I was about to add "no offense," but that seems rather pointless.)

And I don't want to take this too far afield -- my post (2 above) was only about ITEMIZING on bills, not about the value of electricians per se.
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:41 PM
 
Location: Galloway, NJ
1,817 posts, read 2,221,758 times
Reputation: 1520
Quote:
Originally Posted by electrician1978 View Post
I am not obligated to show my markup and costs of materials.
I think the main problem here is it's no secret what you pay for parts. Any homeowner can compare the cost of what was installed with what the electrician installed. Unlike someone like a HVAC contractor, where the compressors, furnaces and air handler isn't common knowledge. It's pretty easy to hide thousand dollars in profit when changing a customer when they don't know and can't find out what the parts cost. But in the case listed here, at best it's a few hundred dollars in parts, there no way it costs $1,200 for parts. While you can certainly hide behind "I don't have to tell you how much I paid for my parts" (or what my markup is) attitude, it certainly will not win you can recommendations from your customers. And lets face it, your reputation is a lot more valuable then a quick couple extra buck in profits. If it's common knowledge you over charge, your working schedule will clear up pretty quickly. I'm sure you wouldn't pull this kind of crap with general contractors, it wouldn't be long before no one will hire you for any construction projects.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:11 AM
 
Location: Morrisville, NC
3,524 posts, read 3,155,103 times
Reputation: 2842
It would be interesting to know what happened. The simple solution would be to have discussed an approximate cost for materials up front. No need to get the exact markup, but it is not at all unreasonable to get an itemization of parts used up front. Reputable contractors do not mind these terms. And when I do go to the doctor, they do give you itemization of what they have done. When you go to the mechanic, they do the same. In fact most professionals have no issues at all letting people know how much time they spent and what materials they used, especially on a T&M job. It's only fair. I'm a construction project manager and have bought millions of dollars worth of subcontractors services. Any company I have ever worked for, no itemization on time and material work = not getting paid. Then again, this is understood up front.
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