Is this bid for electrical high or right on?

melissat99June 5, 2013

We received the breakout of our kitchen bid, and while I may be looking for ways to save money, most of the items were at least in the ballpark of what I expected, however the electrical bid seemed very high at nearly $12.5K. Most of our appliances would be staying in roughly the same locations (main fridge & dishwasher in same place, cooktop shifted ~6 inches, wall ovens shifted 1-2 feet), though we would need to upgrade one outlet to 220V for the speedcook. We would also be installing recessed lighting and replacing the existing light fixtures. So would love input from folks who have been down this road as to whether this is high or if it's really a more complicated project than I realized.

The specific items on the bid are below:
D/W, Vent Hood, Cooktop, Oven, Microwave, Disposals Connecting
Install GFCI Outlets in existing boxes
New Conduit, Duplex Outlet, Fridge Drawer Outlet, and GFCI for Island
Install 3 (owner furnished) Pendant lights over island w/ dimmer
Install LED under-cabinet lights
Install 11 MLV recessed can lights w/ dimmer
Install (owner furnished) chandelier in breakfast nook on existing box and add dimmer
Replace 3 switches and 5 existing plugs
Label Panel
One line and load analysis

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"We would also be installing recessed lighting and replacing the existing light fixtures."

What kind of access do they have to do this. How hard is it going to be to get wire to where you want it?

If you have clear attic or basement access, it might be easy. If it's a 2-story on a slab, it's a lot more work.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:31PM
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Not necessarily cost saving, but instead of GFCI outlets which are somewhat ugly, you can use GFCI breakers instead.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 12:58PM
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Some of it might be code issues (and permit fees can be high or nothing in your area).
For example, we had to have GFCI in our kitchen--required by code. No substitutions in the box.

Does he need to upgrade your electrical panel?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Thanks all for the replies.

House is 2 story on slab, so would have to go through the ceiling ti install the lights, but removing / replacing the ceiling drywall is in a separate portion of the bid so this portion of the bid be to run the wires through the exposed ceiling.

I imagine permitting fees are not insignificant (we live in a permit happy town), though so far individual permits have run about $100 per job (water heater & HVAC replacement) - so I don't know if that would mean $100 would cover all the items or if it would be $100 per element.

I don't believe the panel needs to be upgraded - the house was built in 1986, and both panels appear to have unused space, though admittedly I don't know enough to know if this means they are fine as is.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 1:15PM
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I would ask how many hours they have figured for that. Then you can look at the hourly rate in your area for an electrician and see the labor costs. Not sure what it would be in your area.

I do remember recessed lights was expensive, not so much the wiring, but the lights themselves. Maybe it was because of the kind I needed, but I was suprised at the cost of those.

Should note though that is has been several years for me now so don't remember.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 1:45PM
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'House is 2 story on slab, so would have to go through the ceiling ti install the lights, but removing / replacing the ceiling drywall is in a separate portion of the bid so this portion of the bid be to run the wires through the exposed ceiling. "

How long is the run to the panel ad who is removing the ceiling?

What type of joists do you have? (all have limits on hole sizes and hole locations, some more restrictive than others).

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:01PM
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Did he give a breakdown of costs? I would want to see it itemized. I'd guess the canned lights are eating up most of it. I've only seen an estimate or two on those, here, and it was terribly high. The other stuff looks very ordinary to me so $12500 doesn't make a lot of sense otherwise.

P.S. I think the UCL can get pretty costly too, depending on how you're having it done.

Surely get more estimates! That itemize costs so you know what you are buying and where you can cut back.

This post was edited by snookums2 on Wed, Jun 5, 13 at 15:36

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:02PM
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I don't understand where this idea that can lights are expensive comes from. I just rewired our project house and put can lights everywhere. They're extremely quick and easy to install, and cost less than $12 each if you get the contractor packs. You can obviously get more expensive models, but they're not necessary, as the whole point of can lights is that you don't really notice them at all.

The only thing that might be "interesting" about this project is running 220 to the oven, assuming the walls aren't open. $12K seems extremely high to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: 6 can lights with trim for $69

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 2:29PM
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Can lights are $100 per can installed her. We're cheap compared to most. LED would add another $50 per.

In many many cases when you're having electrical retrofitted, its actually cheaper to demo all of the drywall, run the new electrical, then the new drywall.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 3:35PM
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If you house was built in 1986, likely many of your circuits will need to be brought up to code during a major remodel. For example, in my jurisdiction, every other outlet along the counter needs to be on a different circuit. New appliance runs may require their own dedicated circuit. The additional circuits may have spurred the need for a new panel, and multiple runs all the way back to the main panel. If you are on a slab and the panel is far away, the repair and install cost will escalate.

That being said, my electrical subtotal was roughly 1/2 of yours, before GC overhead and minus fixtures, but not on a slab, with no panel expansions, with a similar scope but no new 220V runs (just a relocation). This is in California, where costs tend to be on the higher end of the range.

My UCL were initially quoted at 1300 for materials alone, until I found a much lower cost source. They looked at my invoice and said even the dimmer I purchased was less than their wholesale cost.

Hope that helps

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:33PM
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12 K seems high to me also - we were quoted $2500. (permit and bond not included but it was a few hundred more for that.) He ran new lines for outlets in the downstairs where there were none previously, installed about 15 can lights downstairs also. In the upstairs he added outlets in the island, 3 pendant lights, moved electric for fridge, microwave, dishwasher and stove. He also ran electric to our second garage which did not have any previously. We provided some of the materials. We ended up paying $2000. He kept blowing us off when it came time to do the trim work so DH and my electrician relative finished that off. BTW I am in the Chicago suburbs with a fairly strict building dept.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Thanks all, very helpful information.

In terms of demo, that would be done by the GC's crew, so not the electrician, and this is essentially a 'to the studs' remodel, so he should have relatively easy access to the walls/ceiling. The existing panel is located in the center of the 2nd story, so directly above the inside edge of the kitchen. I don't think it would need an expansion, since I was looking at the breaker box today in an effort to figure out which circuits lead where (it's not labeled) and I believe it has space for 42 circuits but only 29 are in use.

And very helpful info about the undercabinet lighting costs. overhead cans are pretty important to me, but super high price/cost undercabinet lights aren't, as I hope to rarely need to use them since the main prep space is on the island.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 6:41PM
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I'll jump on the "seems high" bandwagon. I don't have a cost breakdown for labor, just a total. But I supplied some of the electrical.

LED cans, new install, were $159/4 for Ecosmart 4" at HD online (6 in are $27-30 in store if you want to save or like the size better) plus $14.50 per housing unit contractor price at local lighting store

UCL were about $630 for self driven dimmable LED bars with dimmer switch and remote from to cover about 10.5 linear feet of uppers (split into 4 sections)

I concur with the comment on codes. We had to update with GFIs and seperate circuits for some things, though the wall oven had a new line run to the panel. All recessed lights and UCL were new circuits too.

Also moved the fan and all it's wiring and had to run 3 way wire for can switches. Plus one outlet was moved to a different wall, one was moved from behind the new oven to an adjacent wall which required new wire, and all the receptacles were changed out. GD switch removed. New outlet under sink for GD and air switch.

And even though I bought the lights, outlets, fan, and switches, it was still less than your quote. Not sure by how much, but a significant amount. I'm pretty sure I got a really good deal on labor costs, but still...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2013 at 7:42PM
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I think you can do better. My electrical work was pretty similar to yours and cost $6K. But I did have another bid come in for the same work and the electrical portion was $15.5K. So it pays to get multiple bids.

I would do what williamsem did for lights. I'd ask the electrician to just price out labor, and buy the lights yourself. You'll actually get better lights if you buy what williamsem bought (CREE / EcoSmart LEDs) than if you go with what 95% of contractors will install, and it will almost certainly be less expensive. The Lighting forum will tell you where to buy the housing.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 12:36AM
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it has space for 42 circuits but only 29 are in use.

it's not just the blank spaces for new breakers, it's how much current the main breaker can handle. If your incoming power service is near the limits, the new stuff in the kitchen might push it over.

Putting "every other outlet" on a different circuit essentially means two circuits along that stretch.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2013 at 6:34AM
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