Use Homeowner As Helper To Rewire Home

Ok I'll jump in before the thread drifts off to antiquity, and take a somewhat different stance than most everyone else.

I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with a home owner helping. Obviously there would be task limitations. One thing they could do is set cans. I hate setting cans, hate figuring out the layout in an imperfect world. This is one thing that would take a bunch of worry, hassle, and time off of me. Also pulling wire and maybe drilling holes. Maybe setting boxes (would love that, similar to cans, but I'm kinda picky that they are set right).
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
I'm kinda picky.....
I'm exceptionally picky about everything on the job.

I want my can lights facing a particular direction (exclusive to each job) usually so making up is easier. And I want the legs straight

I'm really REALLY picky about how my boxes get set. Nailed very tight so there's no wobble, and square with the wall even if the studs aren't straight. Kitchen countertop boxes get set using a laser at the screw hole. That's the only way to make sure single- and multi-gang boxes match height with each other.

I'm picky about the way my holes get drilled. I use a laser, and I drill out to make pulling easier.

I'm picky about the way my wire looks when it gets pulled. Absolutely no twisting when it gets stapled across a joist or down a stud. And I'm picky about the placement of my staples. I hate it when a wire gets stapled, then another wire gets stapled on top of that wire. It ends up having staples underneath the top wire, which looks like an amateur did without a plan

I'm picky about the way my makeup looks in my switch boxes especially, but even in my receptacle boxes.

I have reasons for the way I do every single task on the job. The biggest reason is that I want my work to look better than anybody else's. And almost every time I have somebody helping me, I'm completely disappointed with the way the work looks.
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I'm exceptionally picky about everything on the job.

I want my can lights facing a particular direction (exclusive to each job) usually so making up is easier. And I want the legs straight

I'm really REALLY picky about how my boxes get set. Nailed very tight so there's no wobble, and square with the wall even if the studs aren't straight. Kitchen countertop boxes get set using a laser at the screw hole. That's the only way to make sure single- and multi-gang boxes match height with each other.

I'm picky about the way my holes get drilled. I use a laser, and I drill out to make pulling easier.

I'm picky about the way my wire looks when it gets pulled. Absolutely no twisting when it gets stapled across a joist or down a stud. And I'm picky about the placement of my staples. I hate it when a wire gets stapled, then another wire gets stapled on top of that wire. It ends up having staples underneath the top wire, which looks like an amateur did without a plan

I'm picky about the way my makeup looks in my switch boxes especially, but even in my receptacle boxes.

I have reasons for the way I do every single task on the job. The biggest reason is that I want my work to look better than anybody else's. And almost every time I have somebody helping me, I'm completely disappointed with the way the work looks.
When you have help, free or not, you have to give up some of the responsibilities. Delegate or don’t hire.
 

480sparky

Senior Member
Location
Iowegia
.......I want my can lights facing a particular direction (exclusive to each job) usually so making up is easier. ........
I don't care what way they face during rough-in.

I care about which way they face once trim is done. Nothing sucks more than having to be a contortionist just to access the j-box in a finished room. I'm always thinking about 'the next guy' because that's usually ME.


Years ago, I started doing lighting maintenance at a bank. The 2x4 troffers had those deep, silver eggcrate diffusers. The two catches were recessed and everything up in there was all black. This made them impossible to see standing on the floor. So I'd have a 50% chance I'd set my ladder up in the right spot to be able to unlatch the diffuser and be able to swing it down so I can work on the lamps / ballasts.

So I started reversing the swing on the ones where the only other option would be to just remove the diffuser. After several months, I had them all switched so the next time, I would be able to quickly set up my ladder and fix the problem.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
When you have help, free or not, you have to give up some of the responsibilities. Delegate or don’t hire.
It really, really sucks for me when I have to have help on a new construction house. I sometimes need help to get it done quicker, but I don't want anybody else nailing up my boxes, drilling my holes, pulling my wire, making up, or anything else..

It really makes me want to cry sometimes. But I have to just suck it up and trudged through the most depressing week of my life occasionally
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I'm exceptionally picky about everything on the job.
. . .
I have reasons for the way I do every single task on the job. The biggest reason is that I want my work to look better than anybody else's. And almost every time I have somebody helping me, I'm completely disappointed with the way the work looks.
You work just like I do. In my opinion, it doesn't really take any longer.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
You work just like I do. In my opinion, it doesn't really take any longer.
It doesn't take any longer at all.

When I worked for a shop back in the 90s, a co-worker told me it was really BS for me to spend all that extra time making my wires look perfect.

I told him it takes longer to do it his way because he had to go back and wrinkle all of his wires after he got them pulled 😏
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I also wire logically and efficiently. For example, If I'm wiring a string of receptacles, I'll thread the NM from the next-to-last box to the last box, strip and bend hooks, insert and fold the wires, and staple my way back from there toward the coil of NM. I don't drive home the staples that will get the next cable yet, nor cut the cable to length yet.

Only then do I cut the run from the coil, strip the end, and hook the insulated wires. I'll then move the coil of NM to the next box upstream, thread toward this box, through the loose staples, strip and hook the insulated wires, and twist the EGCs together. Then, I insert both cables, cut one EGC, put on a green wirenut, and hook the EGC.

Then, I fold the wires in the box, drive home the staples, and repeat the process. Note that I don't just pull NM from box to box, cut too long to avoid cutting to short, and have to retrace my steps several times. When I'm done, the only scrap copper is the EGCs that I cut for the green wirenuts. To me, it's the least wasteful of effort and materials.
 

JoeNorm

Senior Member
Location
WA
I think it would be nice if the homeowner was around and willing to help with wire pulls. That is about the only thing you really need two people for.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I am also in NC. I had 1 customer, an electrical engineer, who wanted to do his own project. Inspector approved him doing it with mr supervising. I came by each day ir 2 & looked over everything. He did good work & gladly paid me for my time. That 1 case worked out well.
I let another HO play helper & he was no help at all. I’ve let another few get their own materials & they got a lot of stuff wrong. Shallow boxes, not deep, boxes not rated for fans, etc. “But they all looked the same and these were cheaper”. Another guy would take a detailed list from me & come back with Lord knows what.
I worked for 1 HO I would gladly work with. He showed me some receptacles he had put in before. All pigtailed, none backstabbed. I asked who taught him that method. He said it just seemed like the right way to do it. Great instincts. 😀
One other guy had me do a greenhouse where he really needed 4 or 5 circuits but could only get 2 from the panel. But he added up all the equipment loads & figured out a plan for how to stagger use. He handed me a drawing when I got there. Very impressive for someone without electrical experience. I wired as he asked & he never had any trouble.
 

James L

Senior Member
Location
Kansas Cty, Mo, USA
Occupation
Electrician
I’ve let another few get their own materials & they got a lot of stuff wrong. Shallow boxes, not deep, boxes not rated for fans, etc. “But they all looked the same and these were cheaper”
That's one reason I don't let homeowners or "contractors" buy materials.

It happened once - I gave a guy a list of what I wanted, which included fiberglass boxes. He came back with that blue plastic crap because it was 1/3 the price.

I told him if I send him out for anything else, and he makes a substitution for any reason, I'm billing him for my time and I quit

After that, I told a few people upfront that my material list had better be 100% exact and complete or I'll quit the moment I see it's not right.

Wasn't long until I just told people to forget about me giving them a price for labor only. I just tell them if they know enough to get all the materials, then they know enough to do the job without me.

Last year I helped a buddy on a labor only job, wiring a new house. The contractor came back with 1/3 of our wire and I threw a fit. He's like, "there's enough for you to get started."

I asked him how the h*ll he knows where I want to start? Ask for a labor price, then dictate how I work? Bull crap. No more.
 

readydave8

re member
Location
Clarkesville, Georgia
Occupation
electrician
Send them for GFCI recep and they come back with duplex decora

At least once sent for 3/way switch, came back with 4/way--if 3's good, 4 must be better! (Obviously got single poles at times because had 3 screws)
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
Yep, I’ve had the plate & switch issues too.
This can also happen with green supply house clerks. I’ve called in orders for RS covers & gotten mud rings, called in for 1 hole straps & gotten minerallacs. Recently was sent a 3 phase meter base with a single phase panel.
 

steven765

Member
Location
Mass
Occupation
engineer
Depends on the situation. As an engineer i do my own work and bring in a spark for the seal. Then again most HO's don't own laser setup's to level their boxes and cans. Nor are they designers. So YMMV, Depends do they have a portfolio of work? Are they just looking to learn? I'd have an honest conversation if you're teaching that's a different rate, if you're just inspecting and correcting and they have you do the panel another rate. Looking to save money and no experience meh probably not worth it.
 

steven765

Member
Location
Mass
Occupation
engineer
For the bona fide employee you could just 1099 him for $100 and let him deal with the paperwork and taxes. His homowners policy should cover injury.
 
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