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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    8

    Default Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    Recently I had an electrician install ten fixtures in my house(20 hours labor-included some rewiring in the attic).

    In the estimate discussion he stated the materials (70 feet of 12/2 cable, 1 switch, 1 expandible fan bracket,1 white blank cover, and 1 cut-in box)would cost a "couple dollars." I was thinking in the $50-70 range - but the final charge for these materials was $163 - during the time he was there I had to run to the local hardware store a couple of times for materials he realized he needed and I could have picked these items up for a much lower cost.

    I'll ask better questions in the future - but is this a routine approach or is this kinda steep?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
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    2,917

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    With the invention of the interweb, getting the prices of materials is pretty darn easy for any customer. All they have to do is read a label, model number, UPC code, or use the QR code. Armed with that information, a quick web search will show someone on line selling it for a nickel, regardless of the price the contractor paid for it.

    There should be a reasonable price for delivery and the professional experience it takes to buy the correct parts. But that can't be too much these days. Most of the cost will be labor. Round these parts electricians charge $90 - $110 per hour per man (even for the lackey running wire)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,775

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    You can always pick up the material yourself and hire for labor only, however when you hire parts an labor you will pay more for the parts after all he has his money tied up in inventory and has to recoup that and it's earnings.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Columbiana, Alabama
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    Quote Originally Posted by HoustonRemodeler View Post
    With the invention of the interweb, getting the prices of materials is pretty darn easy for any customer. All they have to do is read a label, model number, UPC code, or use the QR code. Armed with that information, a quick web search will show someone on line selling it for a nickel, regardless of the price the contractor paid for it.

    There should be a reasonable price for delivery and the professional experience it takes to buy the correct parts. But that can't be too much these days. Most of the cost will be labor. Round these parts electricians charge $90 - $110 per hour per man (even for the lackey running wire)
    True, if an electrician has to travel to & from one or two supply houses to gather the parts his fuel, time & knowledge to select the right parts) have to count for something.

    Once purchased, it's easy to say I could have saved "this much money" if I bought them on the way to Grannys.

    That's why I carry a huge inventory on my truck (I charge a 20% mark-up) and discourage the customer from picking up parts, which are usually the wrong things.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
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    2,917

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    That 20% may sound huge until you consider the price of copper and the cost in gasoline to drive it around town. 20% is sounding more like a break even price to me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    6,315

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    Auto mechanics charge 100% mark up, and don't go around town looking for parts, they have the parts delivered to their shops. At least contractors sweat for their mark ups.

    There are hundreds of professions where mark ups and middle men jack up the prices consumers pay. That's life.

    Homeowners who think they can save money by buying the parts, end up spending more time and money, because they usually get the wrong parts.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    6,940

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    Simple questions I would pose in return to clients who questioned my pricing was, "how much does your mechanic charge? How much does your doctor charge? How much does your dentist charge?" These professions are NEVER questioned when it comes to justifying their prices, yet contractors are expected to account for every penny.

    My hourly rate is what it is, just like all other professions. Material costs are what they are, just like all other professions. My material prices are generally a little higher than what a homeowner might find because I shop at a supply house that caters to contractors and either has what I need or can get it without question when I need it. I do NOT shop sales, I don't use inferior products, and I won't do less that what the job requires to be done properly.

    Having said that, my prices are not the most expensive in my area, nor are they the cheapest, and you'll get far more than you're paying for by the end of the job if you treat me with the same respect that you would just about every other profession on the planet.

    On the topic of the OP's question, having just recently done some electrical work where I had to run 50' of 12/2 cable, the price of copper and accoutrements is extremely expensive now-a-days. From the sounds of it, you paid the going rate for materials.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    I imagine the question is annoying but your information helps give the bigger picture and puts the cost into perspective. Thank you!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    6,940

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    Quote Originally Posted by McBee View Post
    I imagine the question is annoying but your information helps give the bigger picture and puts the cost into perspective. Thank you!
    It isn't so much annoying as needing to have some perspective. Like I said, contractors are about the only trade where we are expected to account for and justify every penny.

    Now, I am not suggesting that you turn a blind eye to what you're being charged for and what you're receiving. Like ALL other professions, you do have to make sure that your contractor is honest and trustworthy, but that isn't done by whining about the cost of materials. It is done by cultivating a relationship with them, building trust on both sides.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,775

    Default Re: Is 2-3 times retail for materials routine?

    A.Spruce points out the other consideration, a contractor buys $3.00 or $4.00 switches rather than the 75 cent ones sold at the box stores because he has to stand behind his work.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

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