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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all, I apologize if this is against any forum rules... I'm in pretty desperate need of some quick guidance.


Basically, I'm in the process of building a new home.

I've always had plans to go above and beyond the standard wiring plan. I met with the installer last week to discuss my plans, and just received a cost proposal from him that is significantly higher than what I was expecting. At this point I have no way of knowing whether this reflects the installers standard pricing of if there is any markup being done by the builder.


Anyone willing to help me go over this cost proposal along with the wiring plan? I feel like there is some room to negotiate, but I'm also wondering if my expectations weren't a little too high.


Let me know if you're willing to help out. Thanks for your time.
 

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Ask the installer how much the builder's cut is?


I would think it's standard to have a cut go to the builder, but who knows.
 

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Yeah, David, post some details - cost, # runs, etc. (avoid posting company names as we don't need that info).


My quote for the work on my house, which I had planned to do myself (I purchased the wire to handle the 'extra work'), was about twice what I had expected, but after seeing the work, I realized my numbers were awful low.


A good quote would take into account the cost of the wire and the total number of drops to run, but should take multiple-cable runs into consideration. If they just count wire-runs, multiply by some fixed per-run number (I've seen $40-75 from builders for that), you'll get a huge, unfair number. Running 4 cat5's to a single location is a lot differnet than 1 cat5 to 4 locations.


So if you take a base price per run, and then add some discounted amount for 'additional cable runs to the same location', you can probably get to a fair number. Also, doing what I did and ordering the cable myself (Monoprice!) can take a lot of the cost out of the equation - just make sure they know what you're getting and in what form - one spool is not good for running 4 parallel cable.


Funny thing with my installers - I handed them a punch list showing each cable run, an outlet map and had physically marked each endpoint. The installers looked at their boss and said "we should have this on every job!" - to which he replied, "No."



Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok, you guys asked for it so here you go!


Floorplan with desired TV/Speaker/VC locations:



My "Ideal" pre-wire sheet, based off of David Feller's Pre-wire eBook



The bid:



A little background info as well...

I chatted with a few local installers to try and establish a baseline cost before all this began. I was generally told about $5k if done before drywall installation. As you can see, the builders bid is double that.


The first error is that the LV contractor did not account for the standard pre-wire which should already built into the cost of the home. Taking that into account should knock down the price significantly.


And Jeff, you are correct, all they did was count wire runs and multiply it by their cost per run ($75 per Cat6
). Taking into account the multiple runs per location should lower the cost as well.


There is obviously some errors here, and probably some over-engineering on my part as well. I had a freak out moment when I got this bid yesterday, so I really appreciate you all helping me get this sorted out.
 

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Nice diagrams, and table!


Find another installer, one who is not trying to overcharge you.


Of course he will bring his price down, but it's a matter of principle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad /forum/post/19626196


Nice diagrams, and table!


Find another installer, one who is not trying to overcharge you.


Of course he will bring his price down, but it's a matter of principle.

Thanks! I've definitely spent some hours getting organized... which is just one of the reasons it's so frustrating to have this get all screwed up. Credit for the pre-wire chart goes mostly to David Feller (BOCS).


I'm actually meeting with a local custom installer in about an hour to discuss what is a fair rate for this kind of job. I'm absolutely not going to pay $75 for every single Cat6 that goes in this house.
 

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Thats typical builder nonsense $75 per cable...geez.. they tried that with my sister only they wanted $90 per cable and they would not allow her to have an outside contractor work at her house. The "theater package" was a metal conduit to each of the 4 corners in the room.. you know.. "cuz thats surround soundz"
.


It should be price per location IMO because pulling 6 wires to the same location takes a minute or two longer than 1 wire per location. There are 47 locations.. Lets call it 50. Even if they charged $150 per location ($7500) your still @ 1/4 under what they want. I would guess you could easily find someone to do this for $100 per location bringing the cost to $5000.
 

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I actually don't think that the quote is really that inflated. On the high side, but depending on how long these runs are, I don't think this is altogether ridiculous, as LONG as it's a really high-quality installer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Good news guys!

My builder agreed to let me use an outside contractor. I'm on the books with a local company that I've worked with in the past, and it's all going to work out.


Basically, they will be doing more work (labeling, etc.) for significantly less money. The pricing structure that the builders contractor was using was just all wrong...


Thanks for all the good advice, and more importantly... thanks for helping me stay cool through all of this.
 

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$10k is not too much if they do a quality job which includes labeling, jacks, and leaving adequate documentation along with a design consult. If you did the design and know how many cables to pull where, then that work is done and needs to be transcribed to a doc.


I totally disagree with the premise that one wire takes X time, therefore anymore wires pulled with it adds very little more time. This has not been my experience. Pulling multiple cable runs takes more preparation in jacket color planning and labeling, and having more cables to deal with at the head end takes more time. It's not a linear consequence, but it is of consequence. What if the wires at a jack terminate at different head ends?


In short, you did not pay X per wire, you paid for X for all the wires. The methodology for estimating the charges are not of consequence and do not denote fairness or lack thereof as long as they are effective at covering the costs of the installation.


I've not seen any discussion of termination, jacks, or if the cables are left inside the wall. Will the speakers have nail on boxes left there or will they be buried behind the sheetrock? If buried behind the sheetrock, it takes time to properly secure the wire through construction for retrieval later, beyond taking pictures. Pictures are not as helpful as some people think they are. The plans I saw leave more questions than answers: I only say one 'head end' but no mention of SS system wiring being ran to the local head end, no structured wiring panels, etc.


In short, $10k doesn't cause me for concern if a quality and proper wiring project is done. If they builder is hiring his electrician to pull this cable with no effort being put forth on labeling, jacking, or wire management, then yes it's a rip off.
 

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Excellent points.


Admittedly, that is a heck of a lot of cables.


$10K is less than many other jobs I've seen quoted online.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpapa /forum/post/19635243


$10k is not too much if they do a quality job which includes labeling, jacks, and leaving adequate documentation along with a design consult. If you did the design and know how many cables to pull where, then that work is done and needs to be transcribed to a doc.


I totally disagree with the premise that one wire takes X time, therefore anymore wires pulled with it adds very little more time. This has not been my experience. Pulling multiple cable runs takes more preparation in jacket color planning and labeling, and having more cables to deal with at the head end takes more time. It's not a linear consequence, but it is of consequence. What if the wires at a jack terminate at different head ends?


In short, you did not pay X per wire, you paid for X for all the wires. The methodology for estimating the charges are not of consequence and do not denote fairness or lack thereof as long as they are effective at covering the costs of the installation.


I've not seen any discussion of termination, jacks, or if the cables are left inside the wall. Will the speakers have nail on boxes left there or will they be buried behind the sheetrock? If buried behind the sheetrock, it takes time to properly secure the wire through construction for retrieval later, beyond taking pictures. Pictures are not as helpful as some people think they are. The plans I saw leave more questions than answers: I only say one 'head end' but no mention of SS system wiring being ran to the local head end, no structured wiring panels, etc.


In short, $10k doesn't cause me for concern if a quality and proper wiring project is done. If they builder is hiring his electrician to pull this cable with no effort being put forth on labeling, jacking, or wire management, then yes it's a rip off.

All good points BP but what it all comes down to in my situation is the last sentence. The contractor the builder uses is primarily a security and network installer, with a little A/V experience. Labeling, jacking, etc. would all be left up to me. There are lots of great professional A/V installers here in Houston, so I felt I could do a lot better for my money. Thankfully... my builder agreed with me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidag02 /forum/post/19640337


All good points BP but what it all comes down to in my situation is the last sentence. The contractor the builder uses is primarily a security and network installer, with a little A/V experience. Labeling, jacking, etc. would all be left up to me. There are lots of great professional A/V installers here in Houston, so I felt I could do a lot better for my money. Thankfully... my builder agreed with me.

Good for you. I did a little closer look at the estimate and it's not quite the rip off I thought it was: the installer is billing and builder is just marking it up. That's the way it goes. If the builder is marking it up they should at least manage the installer to do a good job.


The builder is being cool to an outside source for a few reasons, the most important being they want to sell the house. In another time and place they'd tell you their way (subcontractor) or the highway, or do it after escrow closes. I understand their position as well having spent a lot of time working for builders.


Either way it's going to be entirely up to you to manage your outside sub. If anything funny happens the builder may point his finger at the sub, just be aware they don't hold up the builder or cause the builder to blow his schedule with a failed inspection. I don't know code in your area so take this prospective trouble with a grain of salt.


My off the hip assessment of price is that $5k is still too low if it's a decent quality job. I don't know your cost of living/labor rates (which are of consequence) but wire and materials are the same: the dealer's cost on speaker wire alone will be several hundred dollars. You have over 150 wire runs to do with multiple head ends. It's not a small/weekend project.


Either way you seem to be on the right track for getting it done right and getting better for the $.
 

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To be clear.. My statement above about $5000 being fair is based on my experience with $100-350k houses where the contractor charges per drop. In every instance the wire is pulled from each location to a can in a closet somewhere. There is no labeling, no termination and no additional hardware other than the mud ring screwed to the 2X4 where they want to bring the wire out.


Also.. mentioned in BP's post above.. Back when the economy was better the contractor would have told you to use him or no one.
 

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My only advice is if possible, have the same sub that pulls the wire do the trim-out, it will probably save you money on the back end and you'll get a nicer job. If another sub has to come in to do the trim-out and has to tone out the cabling for labeling and hunt down the speaker locations (if you're not using speaker rings) it will add a fair amount to labor cost. Also, cat5/6 is "relatively cheap", pull at least a couple to key V/C locations in case you later down the road you want keypad control of your system.
 
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