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Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3727
Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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We just had a subpanel installed in the garage and new outlets

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We just had a subpanel installed in the garage and new outlets and lights installed in the garage for my husband's workshop tools. He'll be moving in shortly. We rec'd a very brief estimate of the cost of the job. It was roughly, "it will take one day, we charge $95 an hour and with materials, you're looking at $2100." We okayed the job, but later a friend was there and he said, "you should have asked them to itemize this because that subpanel could not have cost more than $250 and the additional items are maybe another $150 at most, and one guy for 8 hours plus another guy for an hour and a half, it should be more like $1500 total. If this were itemized, you would be able to see that they've thrown another $500-600 of profit in here." The job is done and we're happy with the work, but I'm wondering if it's too late to question anything, too late to ask for an itemized list for taxes for instance? We're just wondering if we were taken advantage of and how to deal with it now, or is it too late? name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question. My goal is to exceed your expectations on Just Answer!


In order for me to answer your question, I need to get an idea of what was installed and the methods used for the sub-panel project installation. I have the following questions:


1) Is the garage attached to the house or detached from the house? If detached, did the contractor install Underground feeder cable or were the conductors installed via underground conduit?


2) What is the approximate distance from your main electrical panel out to the garage sub?


3) What is the total quantity of receptacles, wall switches and lighting outlets installed in the garage? Are all of the sub's branch circuits 120 volts or any 240 volt circuits installed?


4) Were the garage outlets wired using Romex cable or piped using EMT metal conduit?


5) The project was installed based on time & material and not a bidded contract?


6) What state do you reside in? Labor rates vary widely for licensed electricians across the United States.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

House was moved here in '64, corner of house touching stucco garage that was already here on the property, cable pulled in through corner and they had used extension cords to power garage door opener and a couple lights.


This fellow had to hook up cable to box on opposite corner of house. They ran it under the house, no conduit used, just stapled to underside of house. They had two guys here for that work for about 45 minutes. Distance between house main box and subpanel installed is approx. 50 feet if they went diagonally, maybe 70 feet if in L shapes.


They installed eight outlet boxes in walls, six in the ceiling for ceiling lights my husband put up, and two 240 outlets for his compressors. They also installed one porch light. They didn't use Romex, but some kind of black thick cable and used blue plastic boxes around the garage, not the sort you use in the house. Only one wall switch installed, for porch light and overhead light combined. No conduit was used anywhere. Time and materials, yes, not a bid, just an estimate of $2100. And they did mention $95 an hour and one day. The guy showed up at 9:30 and stayed until about 4:30, no lunch hour taken that I noticed.

Thank you for the replies.


1) Depending upon your location, the $95 per hour labor rate may be high or low. I assume the contractor was a non-union contractor. If non-union, the labor rate is a bit high but really depends upon the area that you reside in. A more common non-union average hourly rate is around $70 to $85. So the $95 may be a little on the high side.


2) Total labor for the job was 1 electrician @ 7 hours and a helper for 1.5 hrs using $95 per hour. Total labor was $817.50


3) The average price per opening (each receptacle, switch and light box), not including the light fixtures averages around $70 for a non-union contractor. You had 16 openings @ $70 = $1,120.00


4) Typical price for the 240 VAC circuits = an average price of $225.00 x 2 circuits = $450.00


5) Typical price for each 120 volt circuit averages $125 each. Let's say you had two 120 VAC circuits = $250.00


6) A sub-panel install for that distance would be approximately $500.00


7) If this were on a bid, lets total everything except the $817.50 labor, since the labor portion is already factored into the openings, circuits, panel, etc.


Openings = $1,120

240 circuits = $450

120 circuits = $250

Sub-Panel = $500


Total = $2,320


The above numbers are typical of what I would charge for such a project (site unseen) and I reside in the Chicago area and am a non-union contractor so this will give you an idea of pricing in a major city.


Typical construction/remodeling projects use the 60/40 rule. Approximately 60% is labor and 40% is material. Based on this common construction methodology used in estimating, equates to $1392 in labor and $928 in materials.


8) Depending upon your location due to hourly labor rates, the $2100 may or may not be a competitive price. All depends upon location. Material prices are similar across the US except Hawaii and Alaska.


9) It is common practice that a contractor mark-up materials on average of 20% to 25% above unit cost. Taxes are pass-thru and not marked-up.


10) Based upon the quantity of openings, the sub and the circuits, I would say the $2100 is a competitive and a fair price in consideration of the amount of work involved. Of course they have a profit built in. At best if a non-union contractor, they are probably paying the supervising electrician around $25 to $35 per hour, yet they are charging $95. They are making their profit based on industry average hourly pricing. Once again, a little high on their end. They are also making profit on the material mark-up. Their profit margin is around 23% for this job which = $483 profit. This is a typical profit margin in the industry.



Hope this helps.........If you have any additional questions, let me know and I'll be glad to answer them for you.


Otherwise, don't forget to rate me before you log Off.


The next time you have an electrical question, you can also request for me at:







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Thank you very much for the Excellent Service rating as well as the bonus..........much appreciated!


If you have any other questions or follow-up questions, just reply back to me at this question and I'll be more than happy to answer them for you. No need to create another new question.


Take care and have a great evening............Thanks again................Kevin!