Early on, I decided that one thing I did NOT want to do myself was the electrical. In any DIY project, it's important to 'know what you don't know'. I know I don't know enough about electricity/electrical work to tackle a project of this magnitude myself. So, it was time to call in the experts!
Near the beginning of the project, I had a heating and cooling company come out to move some duct work. (See moving ductwork). At that time I had them provide an estimate for the electrical as well. Knowing that electricians can be expensive, I had estimated I'd spend around $2,000 - $2500. However, I would not have been surprised to spend more. Here's what I'll need:
- (4) new circuits (three 15 amp, one 20 amp)
- (12) 6" recessed can lights (3) wall sconces
- (2) under cabinet lights (in dry bar) (41) total openings (includes switches, plugs, fixtures.
Getting electrical estimates
The first estimate came in at around $4,400. Considerably more than I wanted to spend. It made me think about whether I should try it myself!
I was given the name of a second company by an acquaintance that had used their services to wire a home addition. 'Word of mouth' is a great way for these smaller companies to gain new business, and this one worked out for me! The owner, Dave is a certified master electrician who runs the business out of his home. This greatly reduces his overhead. His estimate came in at just under $2,600.
Dave was very professional, returned my calls (which many contractors don't seem to have the time to do!), and answered all my questions. Since he was also referred by someone I knew, I decided to forgo getting a third estimate and went with him.
How much do electricians charge?
I'm sure it's different in every part of the country (and world), but in my area (Midwest U.S.) the going rate seems to be about $90-$110/hour for service calls. Big jobs like this are done a little differently.
In an effort to 'back in' to the charges, I put together a little electrical estimator in MS-Excel. If you download the electrician cost estimator you should get an indication of what your project will cost. Using the calculator to estimate electrician charges, here's how my numbers came out:
TIP: Both electricians I contacted do not include light fixtures (sconces, ceiling lights, etc.) in the estimate, nor do they include dimmers. (Standard recessed lights with standard trim are included.) In fact, the first electrician wouldn't even install any 'non-standard' equipment. I would have had to go back into the wall after-the-fact to make the changes! Find out the details of this kind of thing up front. If you want those things you'll have to purchase them separately.
My electrician, Dave also offered to buy the Lutron Spacer System components (custom switches I'll be using) and sell them to me at his cost. He even called Lutron twice to get the details on exactly the components we'd need. If we buy wall sconces that his supplier sells, he'll give us a deal on those as well.
About the Lutron Spacer System
The Lutron Spacer system is an affordable, programmable lighting system controllable via an infrared remote. It allows up to four preset lighting 'scenes', all callable via a bush-button.
For example, I'll have a 'movie night' scene in which all the lights in the front of the theater area will be completely off, but lights at the back will be dimmed to about 20% brightness.
In the 'party' scene, lights at the kitchen area in the back of the room will be a bit brighter, and the under cabinet lighting will be on in the bar area. The 'game room' lights will be on as well.