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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I am the wife and office admin for my hubby who has been en electrician for about 22 years. He quit the grind in 2011 and got his C-10 in 2013. The time in between he was helping me with my business which was a marketing agency.

I now run the admin side of his business and have shrunk the agency. We have focused his business as a one man show doing mostly service work with the occasional remodel or TI. We are now moving to a different state which has a huge demand for ECs. We both want to expand his business, but I am looking for some advice on this. For those of you who have been at it longer, please impart some of your wisdom on the following, and thank you for any input you have!!

1. Working for GCs. I had originally thought when we moved that I would make some connections with GCs. I am reading the forum and that looks like it will cause a severe money headache. Is there a way to take on a custom home build or remodel and not be under the GC? Should I just say no to this work?

2. Hubby wants to get into commercial TI work (at least he thinks he does). Same question as above. Would we be stuck working under a GC?

3. I know that my Hubby does not want to stay a one man show and he doesn't want to be the "old guy" changed to the hours. In his past electrical life he ran crews and I intend to grow the business (that is what I have done for 20 years). In my thought though, I want to have a service & maintenance as well as new installs. I assumed all the bigger jobs or bid work would be through GCs. Any advice here for me?

I have been working this business for a couple of years, but I am still really green. This new market is exciting, but I am trying to research as much as I can before I screw up.

Thanks for your help and input.
 

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You would be better off buying raw land, building spec houses you own and selling them at profit to all the other people flooding out of California.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You would be better off buying raw land, building spec houses you own and selling them at profit to all the other people flooding out of California.

I am not sure what you are referring to...this has nothing to do with my post. We are not looking to become a builder, I am just looking for wisdom from others. We will be establishing a service business in our new town, but I would like to bid on some larger projects.
 

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For construction I thought Cali was very busy.
What state did you choose to move to, WA, OR, NV, or?

For the custom homes and other work you also have the owner / builder.
People try to save by not using a GC.
Everything is subed out by the owner except maybe some things they try to do themselves.

Depending on the persons background, skill, dedication, decision making skills, and scheduling can make or break it.
More often they don't know what their doing. Their dumb mistakes can turn into a fight about redos, adds, adverse conditions, and extras.
Having the drywall hung before the electrical rough is in. Then wanting you to fish the rest, or remove and reinstall the drywall.
Or getting to vested into building the perfect house, they are frozen in simple decisions, or keep changing things such as doors that causes rework.
 

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You do realize moving to a different state, your hubby will have to get licensed for that state, right?
The right GC can make, or break a company, and are the bread and butter of most EC's, so choose wisely.
TI's usually have roots in the original construction, so a GC is an evil necessity, and a "one man" shop usually won't cut it. (unless it's a strip mall, or something small)
 

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There's nothing wrong about wanting to grow and do more and larger projects with GC's.
A lot of the negative responses you get here reflect bad experiences, which we have all had. Some didn't survive...some said screw this...I get it. Working for GC's is not for everyone.
I worked with commercial GC's for over 37 years as contractor, estimator, owner, PM...You name it. Mostly as a chief estimator.
Your hubby sounds like he is knowledgeable and experienced to be successful. He sounds like a younger me.
Working with GC's is all about relationships, familiarity, trust, and competent both financially and performance. You will never get on big jobs with GC's because you are none of that with them. They never "just give a guy a shot"....never.
Find Gc's doing the type/size work you can handle, talk meet them, maybe they will let you bid some work, and when you get one, show him what you can do, and hopefully get on a roll with him. Never bid unsolicited GC's...they just want your number, and have zero intention of giving you a job. ALWAYS get feedback where your pricing was whether you lose the bid or win. Good GC's are happy to give you that info.
BTW...I assume your hubby is proficient at commercial estimating. If not, it will be a slow progress. Commercial electrical estimating is a science...learn it!
What's tough is all this I have described is a full time job. You can't trust anyone else to hire for this work, hubby will have one foot in the office and one in the field.....which again is like a younger me.

good luck
 

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Most of my work is with GC's. You need to weed the bad ones out fast but there are good ones out there definitely.
I agree 100%. I have had mostly good relationships with GC's, some you have to get use too their peculiarities but they are out there.

On the flip side there are the liars and cheats and you will need to find out who they are by doing some research.

Roger
 

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For construction I thought Cali was very busy.
What state did you choose to move to, WA, OR, NV, or?

For the custom homes and other work you also have the owner / builder.
People try to save by not using a GC.
Everything is subed out by the owner except maybe some things they try to do themselves.

Depending on the persons background, skill, dedication, decision making skills, and scheduling can make or break it.
More often they don't know what their doing. Their dumb mistakes can turn into a fight about redos, adds, adverse conditions, and extras.
Having the drywall hung before the electrical rough is in. Then wanting you to fish the rest, or remove and reinstall the drywall.
Or getting to vested into building the perfect house, they are frozen in simple decisions, or keep changing things such as doors that causes rework.
^^ Isn't this the truth...jeeebeez...^^

I would listen to hubby and try commercial...
IME residential is a joke , if you allow it , can drag you
into the race for the bottom...HO run jobs can and often
do dive south and unfortunately the GC's who play
GC games far out weigh the good ones and it's very difficult
to get in with the good ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
For construction I thought Cali was very busy.
What state did you choose to move to, WA, OR, NV, or?
Moving to Idaho.

We run a pretty successful service and repair business here. We will do the same there but there is a pretty big shortage of ECs in Idaho so we are thinking that we will want to get into some bigger work.

He has 20 years of running crews, so that part and the materials are in his wheel house. Both of us have spent the past 3 years learning estimating via on-the-job training. So that has been a process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
There's nothing wrong about wanting to grow and do more and larger projects with GC's.
A lot of the negative responses you get here reflect bad experiences, which we have all had. Some didn't survive...some said screw this...I get it. Working for GC's is not for everyone.
Thank you for this feedback. I was reading some of the posts in this forum and see so many that bash GCs. It was confusing because I didn't see a way to get on a bigger job except for with a GC.

Find Gc's doing the type/size work you can handle, talk meet them, maybe they will let you bid some work, and when you get one, show him what you can do, and hopefully get on a roll with him. Never bid unsolicited GC's...they just want your number, and have zero intention of giving you a job. ALWAYS get feedback where your pricing was whether you lose the bid or win. Good GC's are happy to give you that info.
I was considering doing some schmoozing with the GCs. We will see how easy it is to get out foot in the door when we get there.

By unsolicited, do you mean a GC who reaches out that we have never approached?

We are both doing our best to learn estimating. We have software and have been trying to soak up as much knowledge as we can. Hubby knows it better but he is really slow. I am totally green and learning as we go. It is a slow process. We have taken a couple of requests for bids, knowing that they will go nowhere - just to practice. It has been interesting.

Thanks for the input, it is super helpful!!!
 

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There are GC's out there that will try and burn the subs.
For a number of reasons:
They mismanaged or underestimated their side of the project and are short.
Don't understand their true operating costs.
Lack the financial means to cover the project without borrowing the subs money.
Try to increase their profit by shorting the subs with back charges and hold backs.
Attempt to hire financially weak subs that will be desperate to settle pennies on the dollar.
Are outright criminals that understand blue color robbery is not protected by law enforcement in many cases / areas.

Not all GC's are bad. But a bad one will make you hate them all.
 

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For estimating nothing beats past experience.
On start-ups you have to get your numbers dialed in.
Such as the local labor market may take more or less install time.
If there is a shortage of skill, you may end up settling for less skilled to fill the job, but then the labor time is increased.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There are GC's out there that will try and burn the subs.
For a number of reasons:
They mismanaged or underestimated their side of the project and are short.
Don't understand their true operating costs.
Lack the financial means to cover the project without borrowing the subs money.
Try to increase their profit by shorting the subs with back charges and hold backs.
Attempt to hire financially weak subs that will be desperate to settle pennies on the dollar.
Are outright criminals that understand blue color robbery is not protected by law enforcement in many cases / areas.

Not all GC's are bad. But a bad one will make you hate them all.
That sucks :crying:
I am hoping to avoid getting burned. I know the time will come when we will have to face an unfortunate circumstance.
 
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