Scope and pricing of electrical work

babz325September 4, 2010

I live in one of the outer boroughs of NYC and am doing a gut-renovation of my co-op apartment kitchen and bathroom and may be having a dining-area fixture installed as well. It is required that electrical work be done by a licensed electrician. The contractor suggested that I should consider using someone who does work in the building regularly, as that person would know the building better than a stranger. That electrician came today and I expect his proposal on Tuesday.

Apartment has 6 fuses. Entire kitchen (except for refrigerator) is on the same line with bathroom and part of living room.

Kitchen - Electrician said that he has to upgrade (my word, not his) the fuse box to circuit-breakers and make room (my words, not his, I can't remember the words he used) in the electrical box or behind it, for more lines. (The box is located in the kitchen.) Additionally, he will be relocating two existing outlets by a foot or two, adding at least one, probably two outlets. All of these outlets are over counters. He will also be doing something behind what is now a wall oven and will be changed to a freestanding range (gas-fueled, but electric ignition and display.) He said the extent of the work behind the oven depends on what's there, but suggests replacing wiring, I guess because it is at least 22 years old, possibly a little older. (The building is actually over 40 years old, but the immediate prior owner did a gut-renovation when they moved in about 5 years before selling to me.) He mentioned something about an outlet by the sink having to be "GFI," which he described as being a sort of circuit-breaker. He will also be installing athe light fixture and possibly some undercabinet lighting. Refrigerator is already on a dedicated line. He says I need a dedicated line for the range/microwave.

Bathroom - Installation of light fixture over vanity and changing the (now illegal, as I understand it) plug in the side of the fixture to the area of the wall outlet.

Dining area - Possibly installing a light fixture.

I forgot to ask him if he must be involved in the actual installation of the appliances, or if this is something the contractor is permitted to handle.

He tells me that this work will take something like two days and that near the end of the project he will have to come back a second time. He asked me if I wanted the work to be filed, so I suspect that this is a "borderline case" of some sort. I did not commit on this. He is going to give me a flat quote for the entire job, breaking out the bathroom, dining area and under-counter cabinet light prices, as the last two are not definite.

Okay, the big questions...Anyone from the outer boroughs of NYC willing to hazard a guess on what this could cost? Or know what hourly rates would be (yes, it's going to be a flat rate, but I'm wondering...) Does the scope of what the electrician is saying is needed sound right? It does so, to me, but I am not an electrician and have no prior home renovation experience.

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Ron Natalie

A rehab of a kitchen in something that only has "six fuses" is going to require additional circuits. There's really not much practical way of doing it without installing a new panel with circuit breakers, and while you could technically leave the old fuse box for the other circuits, it would be silly and unprofessional to do so.

Actually, *ALL* the countertop circuits need GFI. There must be two dedicated small appliance circuits serving all the receptacles there. Since any receptacles you already have are probably on shared circuits that's at least two new ones required right there. Modern appliances often spec out dedicated circuits as well so your electrician is obliged to add those as well.

Yes, the Bathroom needs a receptacle that's not part of the fixture (though you're allowed in most places, don't know NY) to leave the one in that fixture there. The receptacle must also be on a 20A circuit that has restrictions on other uses (again...another new circuit breaker required). It also needs GFCI protection.

I don't think this is borderline at all. You need permits and dismiss any electrician who suggests otherwise.

I can't even guess at what electricians in the city get. I'd suggest getting quotes from a few and unless your GC has specific experience with them, get and contact references on them.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 9:28AM
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The electrician/company for whose bid I am waiting is one who most often does work for the building when we need an outside electrician. They have worked for us at least a few times a year for several years. The building super is a straight-up guy and I am fairly confident that he would tell me if he thought there was a reason I might not want to use this particular electrician. I happen to be on the Board, and I don't recall there ever having been an issue raised about the quality of the work done for the building, either by the super, or by the managing agent. Clearly, I have to discuss the permit issue again with this electrician. I am sure that having never done a renovation project before, as much as I tried to absorb what he said, I may have missed or misunderstood some of what he said. The contractor is a family friend who actually does some electrical work himself, and said that he'd look over the electrician's proposal and let me know if he thinks I'm being overcharged. My brother has a house and has had a lot of work (including electrical) done in the last few years, so I am going to let him look at the proposal as well. Am seeking out 1-2 more recommendations for electricians--would rather not just pick blindly out of the yellowpages.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 7:51PM
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