General Contractors May Not Have Heart
General Contractors May Not Have Your Best Interest At Heart
Electrical services can include new construction or additions to existing construction for residential, commercial, industrial, and marine. Before you can move in or use that new electrical work, you need to have a local inspection to make sure it is up to code. How do you find an electrical contractor? If you use a general contractor, he will hire the sub-contractors. If you sub the job out yourself, you will hire the sub-contractors yourself.
Some local contractors hold on to certain contractors in a ‘circle of their trust.’ Many general contractors use only certain subs. The general contractors thought they could push out the small contractors (and keep themselves only in the circle) by going to the state insurance commissioner and requesting a big increase in the building insurance. When other contractors came into this area, they just folded that extra cost into the building costs of a home. At that time, these general contractors were making so much money on construction of a home that they didn’t care.
Anybody can become a general contractor.
It brought the industry further down than it was. But some general contractors were trying to hold on to their ‘circle of trust.’ They made it very hard to work in this area. When I first moved here, I was beating the bushes. I was doing work for no money at all – and, to an extent, I still am – because contractors only use the cheapest people, the cheapest subs. The generals want to make the most money they can by using the cheapest subs they can find.
I don’t know any contractors that were looking for quality above anything else when they were building. Price was all that those general contractors wanted. Of course, we live in a price incentive world. I can say that electrical contractors are going to try and get the bids for doing the work. Then some will cut costs. For instance, they are going to use aluminum wiring, use 14 gauge wiring, long distance runs, and half the house on 1 circuit.
I just came from a 6600 square foot house:
that is in the middle of construction. I am not the electrical contractor on this job. But whoever did this electrical job used 14 gauge wiring for all the lighting in the whole house. The lighting is the most used equipment in your house. Receptacles are used now and then, except for those plugged in permanently like refrigerators, computers, or TV’s that run for long periods of time. But mostly, receptacles are not used a lot in a house. If I was the electrician on that job, I wouldn’t have used 14 gauge in that big a house. It is too far from the panels. That electrician also used aluminum 8 gauge for the stove. That’s like using a #10 for a stove. You can’t use it.
I didn’t say anything to the homeowner because I didn’t want to cause any problems saying that his wiring is not quality. I know some electricians say that it is nothing but over time, that homeowner will have problems.
So what should homeowners have in their homes?
Lighting is very important. Voltage drop is very important. The most used items in a house – like a refrigerator – should be on a circuit by itself. The most used item is lighting. They should be having no voltage drop at all on any of the circuits. In fact, code only requires that you have 3% on all of the circuits and less than 2% on a service.
I’ve seen the way they are wiring houses these days: they have a lot more voltage drop than that. Many put all the lighting on 14 gauge wire. I can understand that wire is expensive nowadays. But it is like giving up insulation. What should you do? A contractor told me today that he asked a homeowner this: “what is more important, the external of what you see on the outside of your walls or what you don’t see behind the walls?” What you don’t see is more important than what you do see. What you don’t see is going to cost you a lot of money – like higher electric bills.
What you do see doesn’t cost you anything:
like cabinets or flooring. Functional can be replaced. Facial is the look of your house. Some people will purchase 12” tiles for $8 a foot and not get a good professional electrical contractor on your house? The excuse is I can’t afford an electrician. But they can afford $8 a tile. I disagree with most of the things that are spent in a house. You can change cabinets anytime. But people want the best; the best cabinets, the best flooring, all visual effects. I can agree with that but to sacrifice your monthly electric bill for beauty is strictly stupid!
This particular customer over sized his house. Instead of saying that he couldn’t afford proper energy efficient wiring, why not cut down the size of the house? This house will be an energy guzzler. Many new homeowners want a mansion but don’t want to cut back on anything for energy efficiency. Why don’t you just cut back on the size of the house and make it more efficient? How much is this house going to cost you in the future?
More tips and insight from the Energy Conscious Consultant. Robert Farbe