Here Are Ways To Save Money On The Electrician's Bill
Save some money by doing some of the small work yourself.
You can save money on your electrician's bill by following these easy suggestions. This site is supposed to be for do-it-yourselfer, so why would you get an electrician to come in? Because electricity is something you just don't want to mess with. Though you'll be doing most of the theater construction yourself, its a good idea to get the electricals done by a pro. Running new lines to your circuit breaker box should best be left to someone who knows what they're doing.
Most communities also require an electrical permit and a government electrical inspection following any work done. The electrician can handle these things for you. In fact, electrical permits are usually only issued to the electrician doing the work.
An inspection is also a good idea because if you do all the electrical work yourself and it causes a fire, your insurance company will likely find out about it and could refuse to pay. With a passing electrical inspection on file, you'll likely be covered even if the wiring was faulty.
Now all this said and done, just because we bring in an electrician doesn't mean we can't give the guy a hand to save us a few bucks. To save some money on the electrician's bill, you could do the following:
Wire any new outlets yourself
If you're finishing your basement, you'll likely need to have a bunch of new outlets installed. Though it doesn't take very long for an electrician to wire up an outlet, you could expect him to take about a half hour or more to do around 10 of them. If he's careful, he'll take his time. To save him some time and a few bucks off your bill, you can do some of the work for him.
What you can do is to hookup the outlets to the electrical wiring but leave the connected outlet hanging out of the electrical box. This will let the electrician examine the work you did and he can easily correct anything. If he's satisfied, he'll simply tuck the outlet back in the box and screw it in place.
Wire any new light switches yourself
Like the outlets, if you wire up any light switches or dimmers, you'll save him the time of doing it himself. Hookup any light switches and leave them hanging out of the electrical box for him to examine as a courtesy. Even if you screw the light switch or outlet back in the box, he'll pull it out to take a look at it (or at least he should). The reason is if an electrical inspector comes by to look at the work, it'll be his name on the report card, so be nice and make it easy for him to spot any problems.
Install recessed lighting cans yourself
Installing a recessed light in an unfinished ceiling can take quite a while. Yeah, the actual mounting of the fixture is more carpentry work, but the electrician will do it if you ask him. Though recessed light fixtures are sold as kits with everything you need for installation, there are a few gotchas that would force you to get creative. If the electrician is doing the mounting, he'll have to spend more time getting the light up in the ceiling and you'll be paying for it. The same goes for wall or [finished] ceiling mounted fixtures.
Once the light is mounted, wire up the electricals according to the manufacturer's instructions. Recessed lighting cans usually have an electrical box attached to them. The box has a removable plate in which you'd tuck the wiring in. Leave the box plate off and the wires clearly exposed for him to inspect.
Buy your own switches and outlets
Though you'd think an electrician can buy light switches and outlets in bulk, they usually don't. You can expect to pay a bit for for them to supply these things for you so its recommended you shop the hardware stores for sales. You can get a box of eight outlets for less than $10 at Home Depot or Rona.
Depending on what you want done, the electrician may be dropping by your house more than once. If you frame a bunch of walls, you'll want him to run wiring for any outlets, light switches, and lights you'd want on that wall. Then you'd cover it up with drywall. Once thats done, he'd come back and hookup the outlets and switches if you ask him. If you asked him for any outlets or lights on a dedicated circuit (a good idea for your A/V equipment), he'll have to come back and hook-up the line(s) to your circuit breaker box.
Label your circuit breakers
Speaking of breaker boxes, there's a small label next to each circuit breaker in your panel box. With a marker, jot down which devices (outlets, switches, applicances) are controlled by which circuit breaker. If some or all of your circuit breakers aren't labeled, the electrician is going to have to trip each one of them and hunt through your house to see what was turned off. This is time and money you really doesn't need to be wasting.
Drill the holes yourself
When the electrician runs the wires through your walls, he has to drill holes in the center of each stud. You'll save him some time, and you some money, by drilling the holes yourself. Let the electrician pull the wires himself. Find out from your electrician if he'll agree to use the holes you'll drill. He should say "Sure" as long as your plan is good.
Get a 3/4" auger drill bit or spade bit and make your holes as perpendicular to the wide side of the stud as possible. At some spots, you may be tight on room so its Ok to drill the holes on an angle as much as 45 degrees, but keep this to a minimum if you don't have to.
Figure out ahead of time where you'll want your light switches, light fixtures, and outlets and drill your holes between them according to your theater's floor plan.
One last thing. Since the electrician has to pull the permit for your home theater's electrical work, the permit will have his name on it as the contractor who did the job. Understand that they're taking a bit of a risk by letting you do some of the work, so just because an electrical contractor refuses to finish any work you started, doesn't necessarily mean they're giving you some attitude. They're just trying to protect their own reputation.
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