Our Electrician Got Fired

Last week we fired our electrician. More precisely our contractor fired his electrical sub-contractor with our permission. The old electrician was a huge mess…

For starters after 6 months he still wasn’t done enough with his work to close up the walls. He dragged his feet at every turn. There was one excuse after another – but at the end of the day things just weren’t getting done.

Second, he put incompetent people on the job who couldn’t read plans. Boxes for hanging lights were put where recessed lights were supposed to go. Recessed lights would show up where there clearly was supposed to be a track lights. One day we were standing in the back yard with our architect when one of his guys drilled a hole through the back wall in the wrong location. He had drilled a hole in the right place the day before but had “forgotten” about that hole. The day we were there he looked at an exterior elevation plan, saw there was a motion sensor to the right of a light, so he drilled a hole to the right of the light – but from the interior. Of course, exterior right, should be interior left – but that fact escaped him. Not only were they incompetent but they were slow. The same guy who drilled a hole in the wrong place, generally spent more time out on the sidewalk talking on his phone than he did inside the building doing work (which may have been a good thing given the quality of his work).

Third, the electrician came back to us with a change order that was 27% of his original bid – and he gave it to us at the worst possible time (right when ConEd was about to get the electrical meters in). It wasn’t like much of anything had changed. His excuse was that he hadn’t bothered to actually price the fixtures for our job which were specified in the plans he was given. He just assumed we were doing a “Home Depot renovation”. That one really galled me – it meant that a good electrician, who bothered to do a proper bid, lost the job. And then, as if 27% wasn’t enough, apparently right before he got fired he told our contractor he needed yet another change order – that after working on the job for over 6 months there was something else he “just discovered” that warranted more money – something that was probably clearly spelled out in the plans he was given when he bid the job.

Fourth, other jobs he had with our contractor were going badly. One on Long Island took forever to get inspected and then he got the job passed by chatting up the inspector outside the house for a half hour. By the time they were done with their chat the inspector rushed through the inspection and only checked one thing. In other words, who knows how well the work was done – I wouldn’t put much faith in the inspection. On a restaurant job in the City he again took forever to get the inspection and then didn’t bother to show up. He was supposed to check things over a few days before to make sure he was ready for the inspection, but instead he showed up at 8:30pm the night before, found problems, but because supply houses were closed he couldn’t get what he needed to fix the problems – so he just blew off the inspection. Now the landlord is saying he’s going to sue because things aren’t signed off – it’s been that long…

Fifth, he was impossibly slow getting materials on the job site and then in some cases ordered the wrong things. The transformers for our track lights were a much cheaper brand. Most importantly, we’d been asking him for exterior lights for a month and he kept saying “next week”. For god’s sake – exterior lights are a security issue – how could he drag his feet on something like that?

[UPDATE] Sixth, his work was done so poorly it was actually dangerous. The new electrician discovered that he didn’t ground the electrical system. That’s something the guys from ConEd should have caught – it’s a major safety problem – one of those things you don’t forget unless you’re just really really incompetent.

And lastly, he was costing us money in other ways. For example, the plumber is charging us $700 for moving sprinkler heads that are too close to recessed lights. Had the electrician gotten his work done in a timely manner, the recessed rough-ins would have been there and the plumber would have located the sprinkler heads further away. (If you put a recessed light next to a sprinkler head the heat from the light will set off the sprinkler). But beyond that – we need to close up the walls and electrical is the #1 reason why we can’t right now. Slowing down the job = costing us money.

The good news is that our contractor found an alternate electrician who’s great. He and his guys ask the right questions. It’ll cost us more, but given how how the other electrician would have come back with more and more change orders and cost us money indirectly, it’s probably not that much more in the end. And given that we don’t get the final payment from the bank (and can’t rent the garden apartment) until we have our C of O – the old electrician’s delays could have cost us a lot of money…

The new electrician should be done by the end of the week, which means we can start insulation and closing up walls early next week. Finally!

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