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1st paid family member side-job. Changed my uncle's 100a FPE split buss panel to a Challenger. Pulled meter, replaced 4' of SEU, had to cut sheetrock a bit for larger panel. Thought his house would fall down. Assured it wasn't load bearing sheetrock. It was a particularly beautiful but humid summer day. Missed an afternoon at the beach with friends. Complained that my Bronco in the driveway was leaking oil. Offered me beer at completion. Meister Brau. Handed me a $100.00 bill like it was the Hope Diamond. Also my last family member paid side-job.
 

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Dope-less Hope Fiend
electrician
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681 Posts
Complained that my Bronco in the driveway was leaking oil. Offered me beer at completion. Meister Brau. Handed me a $100.00 bill like it was the Hope Diamond. Also my last family member paid side-job.
I don't do anything for free. If my family doesn't think my electrical work, and time, is valuable, they can find someone else.

I do try to keep costs down, and save them a what I can.

I wouldn't expect them to do work for me, without compensation.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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11,402 Posts
I don't charge or accept money from family, or close friends, but it's important to know the difference between the zillion kind-of-friends, and the few actual close friends.

It's a lot different with our business than say a doctor. For a say a dentist, people come to him, seeing one more person doesn't really affect their day, it doesn't really cost him anything. With us, a couple days of work over a weekend is a lot of money we could have made somewhere else. Sometimes when a kind-of-friend tells another kind-of-friend they were surprised I wanted to charge them, I point out it would really be better for me to just give them $1000 and go work somewhere else for the weekend, and he can put that towards someone else doing the work. That is no exaggeration, and helps them see it from my point of view.

When I do work for family, I pay for everything, and I do my best work. However, that might be their birthday present that year, or they might be getting a fruitcake for Christmas. Last year somebody got a sump pump installed in the fall and that was their early Christmas present, pretty grinchy right?

For friends, they are my helper, and I clean up NOTHING, and they are feeding me, and if it's take-out I am picking where, and depending on the friend they might have to hang around and crack jokes and tell stories to entertain me while I work, and they're doing all the gopher runs, paying for all the materials, the good stuff too, might not be Home Depot junk, and I am keeping the leftovers, both materials and lunch, and if there's a tool I want but can't quite come around to buying, and I could use on this job, they're buying that. (Somebody's buying me that Dewalt cable stapler pretty soon.) And they STILL owe me one at the end.

All seriousness, friends receiving favors absolutely have to take second priority to paying customers, so they have to be patient and be flexible.
 

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Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
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61,596 Posts
I don't charge or accept money from family, or close friends, but it's important to know the difference between the zillion kind-of-friends, and the few actual close friends.

It's a lot different with our business than say a doctor. For a say a dentist, people come to him, seeing one more person doesn't really affect their day, it doesn't really cost him anything. With us, a couple days of work over a weekend is a lot of money we could have made somewhere else. Sometimes when a kind-of-friend tells another kind-of-friend they were surprised I wanted to charge them, I point out it would really be better for me to just give them $1000 and go work somewhere else for the weekend, and he can put that towards someone else doing the work. That is no exaggeration, and helps them see it from my point of view.

When I do work for family, I pay for everything, and I do my best work. However, that might be their birthday present that year, or they might be getting a fruitcake for Christmas. Last year somebody got a sump pump installed in the fall and that was their early Christmas present, pretty grinchy right?

For friends, they are my helper, and I clean up NOTHING, and they are feeding me, and if it's take-out I am picking where, and depending on the friend they might have to hang around and crack jokes and tell stories to entertain me while I work, and they're doing all the gopher runs, paying for all the materials, the good stuff too, might not be Home Depot junk, and I am keeping the leftovers, both materials and lunch, and if there's a tool I want but can't quite come around to buying, and I could use on this job, they're buying that. (Somebody's buying me that Dewalt cable stapler pretty soon.) And they STILL owe me one at the end.

All seriousness, friends receiving favors absolutely have to take second priority to paying customers, so they have to be patient and be flexible.
Couldn't agree more!!!

As a young man my father-in-law owned several businesses and a very large house. I did work on all of them but that work provided me with a stock pile of leftover parts and tools. YES, he often threw me Benjamins but I never asked for money. He also took my wife and I out to very nice restaurants and country clubs for meals.
 

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Totally depends on your family. In mine we all bend over backwards to help each other without even being asked. My ex’s family was opposite. If there wasn’t cash involved they would not help with anything cept clearing out the fridge and liquor cabinet.

Spending time with your family is part of being family. If they’re gonna be working with you how is it that much different than playing shuffle board or watching the game with em.

It shouldn’t cost you though. They should get their own materials from a list you make. Sometimes once they see how expensive mats are they don’t want to do it anymore :)

Unless it’s someone who’s in dire straights and is a good person and trying hard but going through rough times. It’s ok to help them.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Scada Supervisor
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Spending time with your family is part of being family. If they’re gonna be working with you how is it that much different than playing shuffle board or watching the game with em.
This was the key part for me, THEY had to be there or I walked.
Cowboy
 

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Retired Low Voltage installer (Fire, Access, Security)
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Was always ready to help family, but had to stop.
Materials: At my cost they were too much. If they furnished, it was junk.​
Time: If everything went as planned, I got "is that all there is to it?". It it didn't, I got "When do you think you'll be done? We want to go out to eat tonight."​
Quality of work: Phone jack installed with a level didn't "look right"; the floor sloped because the foundation was failing.​
Finally decided that family or not, it wasn't worth it.
 

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Ready Mix concrete plant electrician
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I’ve a really close friend that we have traded work back and forth so much that neither one has bothered keeping track. If I need help on something, he is the first one there to help out, and I’ll do the same for him.
Before Thanksgiving an old man I go to church with called about power out at his house. Me and my son drive over and find an old Crouse-Hinds panel with a main breaker one leg down. They have been like this for several days and I can’t leave them like this. We roll out and hit big blue and return with a GE value pack and gitter dun in record time. The materials were about $250 and he would have had to shake the couch out to find that much. A couple days later I see him and he says he has the money. I told him good, split it in half and buy a Christmas gift for your wife and granddaughter with it. I didn’t want anything because I’ve been blessed and am paying it forward.
I will and have helped those who are truly in need, but cheapskates find out I’m just too busy.
 

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retired electrician but occasionally take on small residential projects
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50 Posts
Before my retirement I was careful not to over extend the family and close friends discount. When company resources were used I gave more modest discounts. For small odd jobs I did them for material cost only to the extent it didn't take me away from running my company or spending time with my wife and kids (otherwise I just declined). Post retirement I am more willing to do small jobs at materials cost until I feel I'm being used. The uncle from OP is what I call a real user and I have had that happen to me on more than one occasion. In these situations I give them a "quote" and state they shouldn't feel obligated to go with me. This usually cures the problem. Will always be a touchy area.
 

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Low Voltage, Multi-Family Residential Electrical Construction, Fire Alarm and Life Safety
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I was in a similar situation and I had to learn that it was OK to take money from family. Many times their position is that if they have to pay someone to do it, why can't it be YOU or someone that they know. At least to their advantage, you're not going to try to screw them over. If you say that you're going to need something to do the job, they'll be able to comfortably trust that you're not lying to them.
 

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Gold Pliers Champion
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I used to do side work for friends and family.

Now it goes like this:

"Hey do you do any............................?"
NO!
 

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I have a policy for side jobs, it's my profession and how I make a living. You have to pay me something. No I won't charge for changing a light switch but when you need an electrician and you call me, it's going to cost you some money on top of the materials. I don't work for free.

Tim.
 

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Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
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61,596 Posts
I’ve a really close friend that we have traded work back and forth so much that neither one has bothered keeping track. If I need help on something, he is the first one there to help out, and I’ll do the same for him.
Before Thanksgiving an old man I go to church with called about power out at his house. Me and my son drive over and find an old Crouse-Hinds panel with a main breaker one leg down. They have been like this for several days and I can’t leave them like this. We roll out and hit big blue and return with a GE value pack and gitter dun in record time. The materials were about $250 and he would have had to shake the couch out to find that much. A couple days later I see him and he says he has the money. I told him good, split it in half and buy a Christmas gift for your wife and granddaughter with it. I didn’t want anything because I’ve been blessed and am paying it forward.
I will and have helped those who are truly in need, but cheapskates find out I’m just too busy.
My kind of guy. I feel great about things like that, especially with old people.....we are all gonna be there one day.
 

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Funny thread. Going thru this right now. Mom and sister, it's happening as they ask, no thought of money. (Helps it's a lawyer and realtor). I also have a non blood brother, and I'll go swap his panel right now for free if it was needed. He is a carpenter who helps me with no thought as well. (For perspective, I loaned him 10k to buy his house as he was having issues getting it out of his investments.)

Outside of these three, I don't do discounts. Full price or free.

My in-laws bought a house recently, and they pay.

I would rather work for free/barter (which is an unofficial thing with my 3 family) than work for a discount.
 

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I was delighted to replace recepts with TRs when my cousin's daughter bought a house. I bought the materials, and worked by myself. I love their kids. The couple didn't ask me for the work, I asked them to let me do it. They did ask me what I thought of their wiring, and answering questions like that is one of my premium-price services; but I didn't think about money then either. And yes, they make more than I do. Doesn't faze me.

Some years ago, a brother-in-law's house got burned out. At my suggestion--not their request--we worked together to rewire it, many months. They bought me lunch, they bought the materials and paid for my permit. I feel very lucky I was in a position to essentially take that much time out of earning, but again, I was good with it.

I've done bits of troubleshooting for a poor neighbor or two, same as 460Delta. Nothing I'd need a permit for, because lawzamuzzy I wouldn't want those houses' wiring associated with my license.

Otherwise, I expect to be paid as invoiced, no discounts except for courtesy round-downs. And over the years, I was very rarely stiffed. I feel very lucky that I didn't run into users in my family. You could argue that the brother-in-law should have come up with some big whatever in response to my gift of time and expertise, but I don't think they had it.
 

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My wife’s aunt and uncle who she is close to asked if I could hang up a tv for them after they moved into their new home. I said sure and did it. No charge, we had dinner afterwards and called it a night.
The following week, her uncle calls me saying he needs a flood light outside with ring camera installed in the doorbell. I said sure no problem. Quickly realized after our conversation that he wasn’t planning to pay $. I spoke to my wife about it and didn’t feel comfortable asking for full amount of $ it would cost since it is family. Well I called him and asked if he could get me a new tool since I am starting up my own side work / company. He got me a 170$ tool I asked for, started texting me pics of it and telling me exactly how much it costed with tax.
I went to do the job today and he was following me around while I did the job, and showing me the tool. Kept asking if I needed to use it (but I didn’t). Also kept insisting that if I ever need any money to let him know.
But let me tell you this guy is up to his eyeballs in debt with the Home Depot. He is financing everything he can.
when the job is done today he says he wants to add 8 outlets total to the basement and about 8 recessed lights to a ceiling.This is literally a days work and I’ll need a partner to help fish wires etc.
He told me write up a number ($ wise) and let him know.
My question is do I ask him for another tool, a Home Depot GC, family discount or don’t do the job at all ?
what would you do? Thanks.
Not knowing other family details (like if the uncle has ever helped y’all in a similar fashion or helped you tremendously during a hard time before, etc.) but I would definitely charge. I would just write up an invoice like you would any other job (this is coming from a electrical contractor who owns a company though, and not a side gig or start-up). I would then apply a family discount, making it clear how much of a discount you are giving them on the invoice. This shows your willingness to do it, gives them an amount to be grateful for (the discount) and helps you to not get taken advantage of, especially in the future. If you keep doing this for free, he’s going to keep asking. I definitely wouldn’t do it for free, or for a simple tool. You can buy multiple tools for what you should be getting paid to do that. You should be able to do it yourself though, it doesn’t sound like a big job.
 

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Retired EC and Fuel distribution contractor
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My response was I really don't do residential work.

The owner of the dock manufacturer I worked with was building a new house, and he was a bit uncomfortable trying to explain the builder has his subs which included an electrical guy. I was never so happy to agree with him that he should use that guy. :)

As far as bartering, that is why money was invented.
 
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