Why do contractors subcontract electricians?

Suppose you are remodeling your kitchen and all the necessary circuits have been run from the electrical box to the kitchen. It seems like the rest is the easiest part of the project: setting up the electrical boxes and the switches, and connecting the devices. Then why do general contractors don't do that part themselves but still subcontract it out to the pricey electricians? I understand that they pass that cost to the homeowner, but still it would have been more profitable to it themselves.
What am I missing? I feel like there must be something about it that's not easy that I'm not seeing. I've been adding electrical outlets and installing fixtures and doing stuff like that myself since I bought the house and it's certainly easier than carpentry. Perhaps it's the regulations? Anyway, please let me know what you think.
Aaron
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Not what you're looking for, but...
I'm a home owner, not a contractor, and just had some boxes relocated in kitchen remodel. In my normal business one thing I do is wire control panels and this kitchen job was not any more difficult.
In my case, the reason I hired electricians (not from the phone book - referred by a respected carpenter) is because they do this every day, their work is inspected and they know the latest code. I didn't want to miss something that they would pick up. I would have spent more time looking for parts at Home Depot, finding out they're wrong, returning parts, etc., etc.... than the 2 hours it took them to do all the work.
Also, the non-electrical things I learned from them making suggestions about the remodeling was worth the $$.
Sam

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buffalo ny: depends on the size of the general contractor's company. it could be a good small estimator/salesman who subs everything out and knows how to connect you as the customer to a satisfied completion price, date, permit, inspection, and satisfaction. since electricity and its defects or mistakes are important to you and your home's future, it a wise investment. further basic reading: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/electrical-wiring/part1 /
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Probably for the same reason I don't bring my car to the Chiropractor for repair. Some fields are pretty specialized, and the best job is achieved by people who do it every day, not someone who dabbles. Also electrical contractors are generally licensed and insured to do that type of work

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Aaron Fude wrote:

The lack of a license.
--

dadiOH
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alt.home.repair:

And insurance. As a handyman, my business insurance specifically prohibits me from doing electrical installation, which requires a license. I can do repairs and fixture installs, but not installation of new lines and boxes.
--
Steve B.
New Life Home Improvement
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one word , Licensing, the general probably isnt licensed to do lectrical work

been run from the electrical box to the kitchen. It seems likethe rest is the easiest part of the project: setting up the electricalboxes and the switches, and connecting the devices. Then why dogeneral contractors don't do that part themselves but stillsubcontract it out to the pricey electricians? I understand that theypass that cost to the homeowner, but still it would have been moreprofitable to it themselves.What am I missing? I feel like there must be something about it that's}not easy that I'm not seeing. I've been adding electrical outlets andinstalling fixtures and doing stuff like that myself since I boughtthe house and it's certainly easier than carpentry. Perhaps it's theregulations? Anyway, please let me know what you think. ~Aaron
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From the homeowner's point of view -- (a) There's probably enough to do that a professional electrician will be able to do it faster and not interfere with other trades, so the manhour cost may not be much different, and (b) besides what everyone else has said, warranty. If something breaks or goes wrong after installation the contractor doesn't want to be the one who has to go back and fix it -- the sub will take care of it.
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Here in MN, electrical work MUST be done by either the homeowner or a licensed electrician.license to do electrical work.
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Here in Ontario, Canada it is illegal for anyone to sell electrical work if the person installing the electrical work does not have an electrician's licence which takes 5 years to obtain. An unlicensed person may do their own electrical work but not work as an electrician.
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Aaron Fude wrote:

Aaron The reason is really quite simple. Not all of the electrical work for a kitchen is as simple as you suppose it is. The general contractors insurance policy specifically excludes any coverage of work for which the insured does not hold the proper license. Since keeping up with one industry is enough for most contractors to do well, the smart ones stick with the craft that they already know and bring in the specialist to do the others. Kitchens can involve multiwire branch circuits, 120/240 volt appliances 240 volt appliances, automatic switching circuits, safety interlocks, and the list goes on. I'm often called in by general contractors after the residential wireman on the job has given up on the controls for a two part refrigeration system or other only slightly esoteric assembly. Even though it is certainly within the mental capacity of any successful general contractor to manage all of those details the real cost of maintaining the necessary licenses and insurance coverage to engage in the additional work is sufficient deterrent to most. -- Tom Horne
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Fixing outlets and wiring a house are worlds apart. Just as fixing an under the counter pipe and plumbing a slab before it's poured.
I just helped my union electrician friend wire an addition I'm doing. I was amazed after thinking it wasn't that hard. Well, it really ISN'T that hard, but if you get it wrong, the place may burn down or someone may die. And he was trying to explain as he went, but he was speaking Greek to me. Think of it. You just got the studs, and you want THAT lamp to light from these three switches, but not those two. And you need to know if you can safely run two more outlets on this piece of Romex, or do you need to drag another length from the panel.
If a contractor has a problem with a licensed electrician, no problem. Phone call, and the man makes it right. If he doesn't, the contractor makes a complaint, has the work done, charges it to the electrician's surety bond, and goes on his way. Unless the guy isn't licensed, and then depending on the state, he's in trouble. Some states have made it a felony to contract without a license they got so tired of yokels doing shoddy work.
Many times contractors have favorites. And it's not usually a brother-in-law. It's a guy that the contractor knows will get in and out for a good price, and no questions asked if there's a problem. But, since the guys are usually pretty good, there's hardly any problems, and if they are, they are small.
One less headache for the contractor. Oh yeah, he'll add about 20% to what the electrician charges.
Steve
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In a word liability.
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You're joking, right?
What's your next question? Why do contractors buy lumber instead of cutting down trees and running a sawmill in the backyard?
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Hi,
Thanks for all the responses. What I was really getting at is whether I should do it myself and what I've gathered from the responses is: yes, I should.
Here's my situation. I realize that this will take me a week (or two!) where it would take a professional electrician a day and a half. And I may/will make mistakes. These are the cons.
But the pros are these:
1. I really enjoy it. 2. I save $3000, at least. 3. I will have a licensed electrician inspect my work for about $70. (So make that savings of $3000 - 2*$70, since I'm sure there will be mistakes to correct and the inspection will have to take place twice.) I've had two electricians say that they would do this for me...
(Also, what's pushing me towards doing it myself is my general frustration with tradesmen these days. I've had eight electricians come to visit me. All but one were late by at least 30 minutes. Six canceled the first appointment, four the first two. Two plumb forgot to show up and apologized profusely. Several told me outright or implied that whether or not I get my own fixtures, they will charge me the contractor's markup. Six of eight are yet to provide a quote, and it's been at least three weeks. Seven used the phase "I'm a very honest guy" - something I'm profoundly allergic to. Five told me that I'm in "desperate need of upgrading to 200Amps", three told me that I have "plenty of amps coming in". All eight have stated that the job may cost more if there are unforseen problems, but not less if it turns out simpler than expected. All eight were recommended by someone.) Would you like to hear my plumber stories?
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Eight is an absurdly large number IMO. Are you price shopping or what?
All but one were late by at least 30 minutes. Six

Perhaps they smell a PITA customer.
Several told me outright or

What is wrong with that? Do you think they shouldn't profit from your small job? Plus, using homeowner supplied fixtures can lead to problems. Wrong fixtures, missing fixtures, etc. What if a fixture is defective? Are you prepared to pay the electrician all the screwing around he has to do to figure it out etc.

Not necessarily contradictory. Sometimes you can have enough amps with a 100 amp panel but not enough slots for new circuits.
All eight have stated that the job

If you are building the Taj Mahal, you have some negotiating power. You have a small job and you are being a pill. Call a few electricians, find one who you feel in your gut you can trust, tell them to get er done and send the bill.
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Don't bother with the electrician unless the person is somebody you know well. There is too much of an incentive for the electrician to spin a tale of thousands of dollars of work that is needed to bring it up to code.
If you know what you're doing, then pull a permit, do the work yourself, and let the city do the inspection. They're going to anyway.
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[snip]

That's what I did and it worked out better than I thought. The inspectors (there were three in the dept.) checked my progress throughout my remodel and each found minor areas that needed attention. It saved me several thousand in labor _and_ a bottle of Kay-yoa and a few rolls of Rolaids.
Good luck with it.
The Ranger
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I had a house in the 90's that had the feed into the electrical panel burn out after about 5 months of ownership. One of the 220 feeds was loose and the resistance caused it to get hot enough to take out the terminal.
Called an electrician and he told me that because of a "flat roof" over the rear patio under wire from telephone pole, the pole for the incoming wire had to be raised 6 feet. He said that the ground at the panel had to be made to plumbing and that he'd have to run a wire around the garage to the water feed for the house. And of course, a new panel. $3500.
Then I remembered about a home warranty that came with the house. Called them and they sent an electrician who replaced the panel, and who drove in a new ground rod in the ground outside behind the panel. The bill he submitted was about $750. Inspectors came and liked the job. Said the ground was perfect. Didn't say anything about the wire feed pole.
Electricians are in the same group as plumbers, garage door repairmen, and car mechanics. Most are OK; but there are some bad ones out there who selfishly try to get away with anything they can. There are also whole companies that have policies equal to the worst of them. Do any of those garage door repair companies starting with the letter A use the same company for a whole two years? I have a hunch that they reincorporate on a yearly basis to avoid warranty claims.
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Nope. Sounds like you got it all figured out and already know everything. Go for it.
Steve
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