I just built a new garshop and need electric service out to it. The city
here doesn't mind me doing the other work, but they require an actual
electrician to do the electric work. I had two guys set up to come out
sometime today to take a look. Of course, while I was finishing up with the
first guy, the second came along. He handed me his card and I told him that
I was just finishing up with another guy. He said he was real busy, mumbled
something else, and then said he didn't want the job and wanted his card
back. Do these guys think they're the only game in town? Don't they expect
that you'll be getting a few numbers? In retrospect, I'm glad because I
suspect that someone that unprofessional would not be someone I would want
to work with anyway.
Yes, they do think that they are the only game in town.
Luckily, they are not all like that.
The name of the game is Intimidation. This approach works goods with older
retired people asking for a quote.
At time, they will blackmail you with your house insurance coverage and
charge you big bucks.
In your case you probably need a 220V Pony panel in your garage connected to
your house main supply.
The question is to find out if your house distribution panel has the spare
breakers and well suited to supply power to your pony panel.
The size of electrical cables and panels have to be determined as per your
local area code.
It would not be a bad thing to review the addition with your insurance
companies. It is best to talk to more than one companies
At the end of the day if you asked for about 4 to 5 quotes you will end up
with a fair one. Many people are doing the installation on the QT and
nothing bad happens. On the other hand if something happens in your
garageshop your insurance company may start to pick of some little things to
avoid or minimized damages payment. In theories some municipalities may
required some permit as per their by laws.
This is an often spoken misunderstanding. Insurance companies pay out
everyday for house fires due to all sorts of negligent wiring - right down
to stupid things like light weight extension cords used in place of real
wiring. They pay out simply because they have to.
It has nothing to do with electricians Todd, but everything to do with the
individual. Yup - he's got an ego problem. And yup... you should be glad
he took his card back and left. You're better off without that kind of guy.
If you haven't gotten too far along, install a 2-2.5" PVC Conduit between
your house (existing Breaker Box) and up into the shop walls (or to slab so
as to come up into shop wall) and frame out above for a sub-panel electrical
Add a sixty-amp Breaker to your main panel and run three #6 and a #10 Bare
Ground out there after the inspection is done.
Since its a SHOP/GARAGE, you can pass without putting in Drywall or wall
sheathing on interior. Then, after approval, make "modifications" and
improvements that do not require permitting or inspection (e.g. adding
insulation to walls, covering with plywood and drywall).
But, before that, run your wiring and try to stay at 12-3 or heavier (I run
#10 for all my power tool outlets) and install plenty of outlets.
For lighting, I suggest installing cheap shop lights (< $9 at Home
Depot/Lowes/Wal-Mart) buy installing Duplex outlets in the ceiling and
splitting them so that the ones on the LEFT are switched and the others are
constant. Run a three-way switch at each entrance (I have one on either side
of the garage door and another at the Man Door so I can switch on all the
lighting from ay entry point I choose).
I also do this with the Wall mounted duplex outlets with the one on TOP
switched and the bottom constantly on. This allows me to leave battery
chargers and power supplies plugged in without necessarily letting them suck
power 24/7. My compressor is also controlled by the three-way switches (wife
hates when it "goes off" at 2AM - and I hate having to go into the shop to
stop it at that hour!)
X-10.com has some 20AMP and30AMP 110 and 220VAC Controllers that ca be
useful (especially if integrated into the initial planning).
I Double-gang my Duplex wall outlets and set a pair one every four feet
about the perimeter of the shop. Also ran TV Cable and Phone outlets
Wife here, must go now.
An advantage to having two outlets (one for the light and one free) is
that you can hang an extension cord down from the outlet and plug your
tool in there. This will allow you to move all around the workspace
without the cord getting in the way.
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
It does pay to know a good electrician, and to pay what he asks. Knowing
him well on a social basis outside of the working relationship will help
get a fair price.
I could save a couple bucks doing certain things myself. Minor electrical
work is one of them. When it starts to pass minor, I call Bob. When my
son needs electrical work, I give him the Home Depot how to book, and Bob's
Finding an expert, who is not an a##$o%#, is a really good thing. When you
do, treat him/her fairly, and with respect. You really don't want to find
out about your insurance coverage the hard way. For any reason.
Open to a viewpoint from the other side of the fence? I'm not an
electrician, but I can tell you what went through the electrician's
mind. He's thinking that you're stacking up electical quotes in a
folder - price shopping. How much price shopping is the question.
When you have the electrician's coming in a revolving door (for all he
knows) then it's obvious to him that you're just shopping for the
lowest price and getting as many bids as you can until you're
satisfied. You know, wasting his time. If a guy has a healthy
business he usually doesn't want to be in a race to the bottom of the
barrel. The better electricians have brisk businesses and don't see a
reason to waste their time giving a bid to someone whose only concern
It's also uncomfortable for both electricians. Some people think that
having the guys giving estimates "accidentally" run into each other on
the way in/out of the house will give them both reason to sharpen their
pencils and give a lower estimate. It doesn't work that way. Usually
what will happen is one of the guys, if not both, won't even bother
getting back to you with a price. Think of it this way - say you're
dating and in a non-exclusive relationship with a couple of women. Are
you going to have one drop you at the house and have the other one
waiting there to pick you up - have them run into each other on
purpose? No. It would make both of them uncomfortable and the only
person that would end up losing would be you. It's disrespectful.
I'm not saying that is actually what you did, and I don't know whether
the two appointments were set up so closely or if one guy was delayed,
but that is definitely what the guy is thinking.
Asking for his business card back is odd. Maybe it was his last one.
The normal thing to do in that situation would have been to either
never get back to you (avoid confrontation), or to say he's not a good
fit for your project and recommend the worst electrician in town
(passive-aggressive). You should be happy that he told you up front.
Other than wanting his card back, it's actually a point in his favor.
I'd say that would be a big assumption on his part, if that was the case.
It's isn't like I had five electrians lined up outside the door. It gives
me the idea that he knows his prices are consistently high and he can't
compete. If that's the case, he should stick with the little old ladies who
don't bother getting a few estimates.
It wasn't my intention to have them there at the same time. One was
supposed to be there earlier in the morning and one closer to noon, but the
early guy got delayed. It works out better for everyone, IMO, if they come
Not that I had it in my hand long enough to be sure, but I think it was one
of those magnet business cards. I kinda wish I had told hime he couldn't
have it back.
Old joke among contractors is the first thing the winning bidder says
is what did I forget to put in my bid. Some contractors base their
bid on whats the least that they have to do to satisfy the contract
while others quote on what it takes to actually satisfy the customer.
You're some times ahead to pick the contractor you are comfortable
with dealing with, as he may pick customers the same way. Nice part
of contracting is the price is alway subject to change according to
the customers attitude.
I'm sure there were assumptions made, and I'm sure that you didn't try
to stack the guys up. Nevertheless, you were probably made to pay for
the behavior of some customers that the electrician had run into over
the years. Not much you can do about it in that case.
I had one years back where a potential customer gave me a mimeographed
(remember those?) sheet that started off, Dear Mr. Contractor, and
included an itemized list of all aspects of the project that I was
supposed to estimate, fill in the blanks and mail back to him. I've
never been the lowest bidder on anything, most of my projects are
negotiated contracts, and I don't sell by price alone. There was no
point in me taking the time to fill out a "test" to see if I would
Of course. Like I said, I'm sure he made assumptions. Generally in
such situations where there's a little awkwardness it pays to have a
sense of humor about it, make a little joke and apologize. If the guy
doesn't give you the benefit of the doubt in such a situation, you're
probably better off not dealing with the guy.
Nah, you should have sold it back to him for a buck. ;)
It's not really a big assumption on his part at all Todd. Remember - he
does not know you from Adam, but he does run into this sort of thing every
day, more times a day than he'd like. I did agree largely with you in an
earlier post, and I still do, but with this particular point, I think you're
taking the incident too personally. You're really reading too much into his
Mostly, electricians are like restaurants. When you drive by a restaurant
with no cars in the lot, you don't want to eat there. If you find an
electrician that isn't in demand , you don't want him wiring your house....
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Actually, it does work that way. A busy electrician doesn't indicate a good
electrician. The guys with good skill sets will size up the information and
just walk away after giving their reasons.
They're also sometimes quite happy to hear what the other guys quoted and
what for. They never speak bad of their competition, but know how to offer
honest information when it's necessary as to why they're a better choice
than the other guy. There's no disclosure agreement for this stuff, and it
helps them out, too.
An extra minute or so goes a long ways to getting the "next" call, or
even a reference to a friend, associate, whoever. In other words, they're
good at practicing supportive attitudes.
Usually what will happen is one of the guys, if not both,
That's good IMO because it's the type of person you do NOT want to hear
from. Take it as a sign of luck.
Think of it
That's silly; if an electrician has that thin a skin, I don't want him
No. It would make both of
No, it's a fact of life. I usually let it be known up front when I'm
looking for estimates, and that's what I ask for; an estimate. That way
they can get the hell out of my way right away; I don't need that kind of
person to work for me.
It should be expected that a person is going to get estimates from other
sources. IF it's not expected, you've found a pretty arrogant contractor
there. I'm quite grateful when a guy tells me he's not crazy about taking
my job because ... and besides, he's only there because I asked for an
estimate. If he can't give me that, then HE wasted HIS time!
I'm also not shy about asking for references; I seldom check them, but
have done so on occasion. Most will be happy to give you the names or
addresses of a few places they've worked in the area; very handy for
roofers, porches, siding, etc etc.
Besides, it's irrelevant IMO.
That's cute: He's going to cut his own throat by recommending the worst guy
in town? There's always a "next time" coming, so it'd be foolish to do so.
And no one wants a foolish person like that workign for them; they are
liars, the worst of them all.
You should be happy that he told you up front.
You sound like you are or were or are close to contractor/s, or are making
this all up as you go along. Your stated observations are interesting in
that they point out some of my pet peeves and whether an electrician is any
good or not. The subjects of your comments are more the types of people I
wouldn't contract with, actually.
Shameless spamming via signature without a qualification isn 't appreciated
either. Whatever "to date" means, that isn't many spams. Perhaps you
should get a paid account and get rid of that message. Or stop using them.
Hey Pop. You excised almost everything from Burgy's post except for
the very last bit at the end. Since you commented primarily on what I
had written, allow me to reply.
A busy electrician is more likely to indicate a good electrician than
one that's sitting around, no? I don't see how skill sets enter into
the picture of whether or not the electrician appreciates the irony of
running into a competitor or not. Are all highly skilled people
happy-go-lucky? No. They run the usual gamut of personality types.
BTW, I wasn't commenting on the work backlog. I was commenting on the
electricians running into each other at the job site and whether that
was intentional or not.
How are they hearing what the other guy quoted? Are you telling them?
Then the question becomes, is the contractor buying what you're
selling? If a potential customer tells me about how someone else
priced the job, it means exactly nothing to me. Why should it? I
don't know if the guy bid the same thing, don't know if he made a
mistake one way or the other, don't know if the owner is fudging just a
wee bit to hopefully elicit a better price.
More importantly, do you really think that an electrician has no clue
what other electricians are charging?
If it's a losing cause from the get go, they're never going to get a
job or recommendation, it's just wasted time. I agree that if you're
in a service business it pays great dividends to have a good
reputation. That includes being friendly.
I'm from the old school. When I hire an electrician, I want someone
who is good at being an electrician. I'm not looking to hire a friend
so I have someone to chat with. It's business. If the guy is
friendly, well, that's a bonus.
It's good to be up front about it.
Again, what does arrogance have to do with it? If the guy thinks he's
god, and does the work like he is, I don't care about the attitude. If
the guy is a boob, and can't back up the words/attitude, well, that's
Yes - in your opinion. Does it color your opinion if the contractor
doesn't necessarily agree with your opinion of what _his_ feelings
should be? It seems to me that there's a certain attitude and
arrogance on your part as well.
Unless someone knows that the guy he's "recommending" is a hack, how
could they know? Is it a dirty trick? Yep. He's foisting off one
pain in the ass to another pain in the ass.
I knew a flooring contractor who would give a written estimate to the
owner. He had gotten sick of people "stealing" jobs from him. Owners
shopping to save $50 and giving the lowball contractor the benefit of
his work. So he came up with a way to deal with it. He'd write up his
estimates with all of the dimensions 2' short. He knew it, was ready
and willing to do the job at the price he quoted. He'd gotten angry
calls from owners who were majorly pissed that the other contractor's
carpet arrived for installation and it was all 2' short! It may have
not been funny to the owner or the lowball contractor, but that's what
you get when you steal someone's work and don't even bother to take the
time to double check the dimensions.
I'm not sure I follow you. I have an opinion different than yours so I
must be making stuff up? That makes no sense. It's really very
simple. It's a two way street. You play nice with me, be upfront and
allow me to be me instead of some theoretical ideal contractor, and
I'll be upfront, play nice and let you be you. If my numbers work with
your budget, and my schedule works with yours, then we'd have a deal.
If not, well at least we were honest and accommodating. What more is
there to life?
You'd have to take that up with the poster who's responsible for it.
His name can be located at the top of this post.
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