Am I being ripped off? Electrical contractor

7 Replies

I have a four unit apartment building. The person who sold the building may have installed new plugs/ outlets. I hired a contractor to change out two electrical panels. The exact wording is “CHANGE OUT 2 100A SUB PANELS.”

The city electrical inspector says the breakers he put in to the new panel are not up to code. And they must be brought up to code because there are new plugs in the building. (Arc fault breaker’s)

I feel that the panels include breakers in the breaker’s must be breakers that are up to current code.

Our contract states He is not responsible for “Additional electrical work beyond that specifically mentioned in this estimate and proposal including, but not limited to, that which may be required because of pre-existing electrical code violations or additional work revealed to be necessary as a result of performing the specified work.”

He is trying to say the breakers are not a part of the panel and wants to charge for the correct breakers.

What are your thoughts?

I will be interested to hear the answer, hopefully from an electrician. I think it could go either way. I personally would assume he would include new breakers on a job to replace old panels but in the store, the panels are just panels. Breakers are additional. Hard to know exactly what you said or he said.

Is the guy licensed? How much $$ are we talking? Did the quote for the 2 panels seem very low? Seems like the price he charged would give a good indication of whether he was including breakers or not.

So is the electrician planning on reinstalling the old breakers in the new panel?

I would be shocked ⚡(pun intended) if an electrician did not include new breakers if they were installing a new panel, especially with the understanding that the current breakers did not meet current building codes. 

@Wilson Lee I am an electrician with 12 years of experience. Short answer he Is ripping you off. If the work he performed isnt up to code then it isnt legal. The clause about additional work is in reference to a situation where he opens a wall and finds new problems not for completing the work he bid.

The electrician should have inspected the units to know what he would need to do. Breakers should have been included in the scope when replacing the panels. 

I have no idea what conversations took place between you and this contractor, maybe he told you but you didn't understand it fully. It's probably best to discuss it with him and see what he says.

I'm not an electrician and I know this is required in certain instances, but I don't expect to ask piece meal for every possible thing. Most people will not.

With a licenced professional if I ask him to do X and it requires Y and Z to be legal and he does not point that out as soon as he knows it I wouldn't let him bid anymore.

But like I said, I have no idea what conversations took place between the two of you, and it seems best to iron this out with him by asking him about it vs focusing on the price (which is best to get bids for).

Good Luck!

It would probably help to have more information on your exact conversation. Arc fault breakers are very expensive in comparison to regular breakers. This is new code but they have a lot of issues with the frequency of tripping. That being said, he should of inspected the entire place and gave you a good estimate on everything. The price of just a 100A sub-panel and one with arc faults would be substantially different. The panel is separate from the breakers, but should of included both in the estimate.