Boy, that’s the fastest $2800 I ever spent! Ever since my wife and I decided we weren’t moving last year, we took inventory of all the stuff we wanted to do to the house to make it worth staying (I’m still convinced in the end if I drop another $50K into this house over the years on a new roof, windows, HVAC, and more I’ll still come out ahead compared to the new construction and higher taxes we were looking at). Last year, we put in a pool, did some landscaping and painting and that was more than enough for my liking as far as 2011 outlays. This year, after setting the budget based on our retirement and college savings goals and our vacation budget, I came up with $6500 as our home upgrade budget for this year. My wife makes most of these decisions (but I make the most important one – how much we can spend LOL!). So, she wanted to do a bunch of electrician-related upgrades and the rest will possibly go toward new floors that I’ll put in myself.
Electricians Charge a Hell of a Lot
We got a few recommendations from friends and neighbors in the area for electricians they’ve used. We avoided the larger electrician “companies” since the overhead is higher and you don’t know who you’re going to have in your house for 2 days. Of our individual electricians in the area, 3 of them got high marks, so we had all 3 out to give us quotes on the various jobs we were interested in. Interestingly, as though they were all reading each others’ minds, they all quoted at roughly the same (seemingly expensive!) prices. When I backed out my assumed costs of lighting, wiring and other materials, I pegged their hourly rates at about $150/hour. That’s a damn good rate! With most doctors making $150,000-$250,000/year (not to mention they tend to work a heck of a lot more than 40 hours a week and start off with 6 figures in med school debt), I’ve come to the conclusion that electricians make more than doctors.
To give you a sense for the type of work we had done, here are a few of the jobs:
- I had one of those mushroom cap fan things stuck in my attic to help keep it cool up there and hopefully pay for itself with lower energy costs and extending the life of the roof.
- Recessed lighting in the kitchen (5 units)
- 2 pendant lights in the kitchen
- Bathroom fans put in both top floor bathrooms (our master bath didn’t have one and the kids’ fan was loud as hell); he had to route vent line as well.
- More lighting in master bath.
- Some electrical work for the pool area, transformer, etc.
- While he was here, had him throw up a couple lamp lights at the back doors (add-on at the end, he didn’t charge much for those).
Anyway, in all, he spread the work across 2 days, probably spent $500 on lights, fans and materials and the rest is pure profit to him since his insurance, his van, etc. are all fixed costs spread across the entire year. The only potential flaw in my assessment is that there’s no guarantee that he works 40 hours per week at these rates, but it took him a while to get out to us and he had to leave our house at 5 to get to another job, which tells me he’s not hurting for work.
I can’t complain too much. The work he did was top notch, he was very personable, and frankly, I’d mangle half the jobs he did which would be ugly to look at or more expensive to fix. But for the anti-degree crowd, add this one to the list of jobs where you can do quite well without the burden of massive college debt and no job to show for it. Coincidentally, as I was about to hit publish on this article, 60 Minutes just aired a segment on the famous entrepreneur Peter Thiel who was paying kids not to go to college. I still think for a good portion of Americans, college is the right choice, but for these local electricians, the certification and trade schooling seems to have suited them quite well for the investment!
Any Electricians Out There? Thoughts?