Discovery work or not? Replacement of panel tied to installation of new circuits

11 Replies

I have a contract with a contractor that states the following (as part of the larger contract: "Each kitchen will have five circuits installed (fridge, micro, 2 at counter, and one installed but not activated for disposal)"


He didn't calculate the fact that these additional circuits would require a larger panel, and he has added the cost of materials and installation to the amount owed. He's claiming this is discovery work and should thus be billed separately.  He had opened the old panel prior to bidding on the project and spent ~half hour determining what was needed in terms of new circuits as part of our kitchen remodel.

My opinion is that he should have done the math prior to giving me his estimate/contract and included the panel upgrade (and the associated costs) from the outset.

Thoughts?

Thank you

Your quotes, more than one, for work should have a detailed scope of work, which it seems this one did.  Usually the price is limited to that scope.  Without some language that says it includes any and all additional work not detailed, but necessary, I wouldn't think it would be included.  Should he have realized it, yes.  When you say "5 circuits", is that 5 separate circuits each with their own breaker?  We're there no "circuits"/breakers in the kitchen already?

Thank you, Wayne. You're right that I should have included some language along those lines.

There were previously two circuits for the entire kitchen (and the same number of outlets except the disposal outlet which was new), and he installed five circuits with five separate breakers. 

Do you want to work with him in the future? If so, see if he will split it with you. Use it as learning experience and knowledge in the future.

Let's face facts, if you continue to work with him, he's going to get the money down the line from you.

Thank you, Lee. I don't want to work with him in the future and don't want to pay for what he's charging me for this, but I also don't know that I don't know that I don't want to deal with small claims court/lien on the property/any of the other problems that could come of this if we chooses to fight me on it. It's ~$500 that may just be worth sucking up and paying.

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@Steve Babiak  is right again. That would be my first step. I'm of the opinion that this guy messed up. As an electrician we must think of those things ahead of time. With that said, he probably will not eat the cost. Maybe you can strike a compromise OR just go right on to a new electrician to do the panel install. This may be the better route. 

Good luck. 

He shouldn't need 5 additional circuits.  Not that it matters loads the same. Unless you have a 60 amp panel I'm sure this isn't going to put the load over the limit.  

If the panel can handle the load but not enough space or hard to find breakers.  You will need tandems or a sub-panel. 

It sounds like this electrician needs to go.

One thing you might propose to keep it from becoming a legal issue is to make the point that he should have included the panel in his quote if needed. It is not a "discovery" item if it can be seen in plain sight. Offer to pay for the materials and see if he will eat the labor cost.

In residential, the individual breakers can total 200% of the main. So if you have 100 Amp service, your breakers can total 200 Amps.

Also, as Wayne said, do you really need 5 new circuits? Was there no electric in that room already?

@Patrick M.  wrote:

There were previously two circuits for the entire kitchen

So, three new circuits were needed.

Originally posted by @Walt Payne:

One thing you might propose to keep it from becoming a legal issue is to make the point that he should have included the panel in his quote if needed. It is not a "discovery" item if it can be seen in plain sight. Offer to pay for the materials and see if he will eat the labor cost.

In residential, the individual breakers can total 200% of the main. So if you have 100 Amp service, your breakers can total 200 Amps.

Also, as Wayne said, do you really need 5 new circuits? Was there no electric in that room already?

 Its not 200% of the main,  it goes by load calculation.  If an electrician told you that fire him.  The breakers can add up to 2000 amps on 100 amp panel as long as the calculated load doesn't reach 100 amps.  Unless you have electric everything or a large house 100 amp panel is fine.  These days an average kitchen needs about 4 circuits total.

Get a real electrician to do a load calc.  Sometimes we miss stuff but this is not something he should be calling "discovery".  He most likely just ran out of room for 5 circuits he didn't really need and he is too stupid or lazy to do what needs to be done.

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