How Do I Factor in Labor Cost for a Basement Wiring Job?

Drenee Brown

Labor cost can be estimated by the piece or by the square foot. If a customer wants basic basement build-out, which includes wiring, receptacles, switches and a subpanel, you may offer a square footage price. The contractor, for example, gives a square footage price of $2.50. Let's say your basement is 1,800 square feet, so your labor cost is $4,500. If labor cost is given by the piece, the electrician is giving a price for each item installed. This is called "unit pricing." The easiest method to use is square footage pricing.

Use square footage pricing to estimate labor costs.
  1. Measure the basement. Multiply the length of the area to be wired by the width of the area to be wired. Be sure to understand the wiring requirements specified by your state's electrical code. Each state has guidelines used to standardize electrical requirements in each home. You can find out by calling the building permit office in your county. Permit costs will need to be factored into the labor. Electricians charge by the hour to "pull" a permit, plus the cost of the permit.

  2. Calculate a square footage price. Small spaces can be calculated on the low end. Large and more difficult projects can be calculated on the high end. For homes, average square footage prices range from $1.50 to $5.50. According to David Brown, licensed electrical contractor,"Take the square footage of the basement and multiply that number by the square footage price. Electricians also add overhead, insurance and mobilization into a bid. Add an additional 7 to 15 percent to the total price to cover these costs."

  3. Complete a load calculation. A load calculation helps you determine how much power your system needs. You may need to add a panel to carry the electrical load of your basement if there is not enough room in the panel. Panel upgrades can range from $500 to $3,500, including labor costs. The price is totally at the discretion of the electrical contractor. Labor costs are based on the size of the panel and the difficulty of the job. Labor is generally 60 to 70 percent of the job.