If you are planning to have an electrical project done, it is essential to consider the cost. Whether it is a minor repair or a major renovation, determining the cost is crucial to avoid overspending and stay within budget. However, it is not always easy to estimate the expenses associated with electrical projects on your own. The cost of an electrical project will vary due to multiple factors, including age of the house, complexity of the project, materials needed, and labor required. In this blog, we will dive into how to determine the cost of your electrical project accurately and factors that impact the cost.

Calculating the budget for electrical project costs


Electrical project cost breakdown

The old rule of thumb is that an electrical project estimate is made up of generally 1/3 parts and 2/3 labor. Using this model can assist you in getting a ballpark idea of the expenses. However, this model cannot be applied to all projects as they may involve more parts or labor depending on the scope of work. For instance, remodels have higher labor rates as they require preserving the existing structures, walls, paint, floors, etc. Remodel work also requires the use of specialized tools and advanced training which will affect the cost of your projects. Therefore, consider this model as a guide and get an estimate to ensure you have accurate knowledge.


Factors impacting electrical project costs

As mentioned earlier, several factors will impact the cost of your electrical project. The following are some common aspects that you should consider when determining the overall cost:

  • Size and complexity of the project: Larger projects or those involving complex wiring and installations will likely come at a higher cost due to the level of expertise and labor required. As mentioned above, the cost to remodel a home versus new construction is higher because of the extra labor, attention to detail, and specialized tools that are required to do remodel work well.
  • Materials used: The type and quality of materials used will also affect the cost. Cheaper materials may lead to a lower initial cost, but they may require frequent repairs or replacements in the long run.
  • Permit fees: In Oregon, you are required to obtain permits for electrical projects. These permit fees will add to the overall cost of your project. Click here to see our page about Oregon's permitting requirements.
  • Labor rates: The labor rates will vary depending on the skill level and experience of the electrician. More experienced and specialized electricians will charge higher rates for their services.
  • Additional services: Sometimes, electrical projects require additional services such as troubleshooting or repairing existing wiring. These additional services will also impact the overall cost.

It is very important that you make sure to hire the right electrician for your project. Here are our tips to help ensure you find an electrician who is the right fit for your needs.

Electrical project estimate-1

Estimation models: whole project vs. hourly rates

When embarking on an electrical project, one major decision you will need to make is whether to hire an electrical contractor on a project basis or at an hourly rate. Each method has its pros and cons, requiring thoughtful consideration.

Electrical contractors who estimate the entire project offer a comprehensive cost upfront. This cost includes labor, materials, and any other expenditure associated with the project (i.e., permit fees). This can be beneficial as it provides a clear financial picture from the outset, allowing you to budget accordingly. Generally, the project cost when estimated upfront should not change unless the scope of work is altered.

On the other hand, hiring on an hourly basis ensures that you only pay for the time the contractor spends on your project. However, this approach introduces uncertainty as work can take longer than initially estimated, potentially inflating the cost. Unforeseen complications or a need for specialized expertise will also add to the hourly cost. Hence, while this option may seem cost-effective at first, it almost always is not the case.

A common customer preference is to break up an electrical project into smaller tasks, executed over a period of time. The logic behind this approach is that it seems to distribute the financial burden more evenly, making it more manageable. However, it's important to note that this approach could potentially increase the overall cost of the project. Spreading out the project necessitates multiple visits from the electrician, which means multiple trip charges. Additionally, if the project is spread out over an extended period, there could be a potential increase in the cost of materials due to inflation. Therefore, while breaking up a project might seem like a cost-effective strategy at a glance, it may, in fact, end up costing you significantly more.


Good, cheap, or fast

When determining the cost of your electrical project, it is crucial to keep in mind the good, cheap, and fast dynamics. If you want a good job done, it may not be cheap or fast. Similarly, if you want a job done quickly, it may not be good or cheap. And, if you want a cheap job done, it may not be good or fast. Hence, when it comes to a project, it is essential to have patience and know that you might have to compromise on one or more factors as per your priority.

Another factor that will impact the price of an electrical project is the complexity. The more complicated the project, the higher the cost will be. The complexity can vary from upgrading an electrical panel to adding new circuits to rewiring the entire house. The materials used for the project will also impact the cost. For instance, if you choose an expensive brand for your fixtures, it will increase the cost.

Click here to read about the factors that determine how much it will cost to have an EV car charger installed at your house.

Determining the cost of an electrical project is crucial to avoid overspending. The old rule of thumb can give you an idea, but it cannot be relied upon completely. Always get an estimate from a licensed electrician to have accurate knowledge about the expenses. Consider the good, cheap, and fast dynamics and prioritize them accordingly. Keep in mind the complexity, material, and labor cost when determining the project's cost. With a little research and preparation, you can ensure that your electrical project turns out the way you want it, looks good, and stays within budget.

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