Author Topic: Got quote back for some house work. $86k, I think I'm about to become handy.  (Read 5678 times)

abiteveryday

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.


Exflyboy

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OMG.. Yeah I'd be getting handy in a real hurry!

I have not done Knob and tube replacement but its going to be a fews work running wire especially if you have to remove sheetrock.

Personally I'd want the whole house re-wired, every bit of it!

I'd take a week off work and make usre you have WAY more material than you need that you can return to your home Depot.

You will have to get a permit, no way round this one if you are replacing an incoming service.

But I have known folks (cough) re-wire their whole houses without permits, not telling you to do it but if you were so inclined it is possible to remove the meter and then rewire everything downstream as everythign will be disconnected.

Like I said thats illegal (at least in ths State) and if you choose to do that on your own head be it.

If you really want to replace the incoming meter base etc, the utility company won't reconnect to your house without a sign off from the electrical inspector.

Having said that.. I'd do all of it myself, becuase I rewired my own house when I rebuilt it.. by myself of course. Wiring is not hard, read a few books on circuit sizing etc.


lthenderson

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

abiteveryday

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

I'm actually comfortable doing that part, but I need to replace past the meter up to my roof (original #8 wire there).  Unfortunately I know enough about my local utility to know that the only way to not be out of power at least a week is to splice the hot overhead utility line myself.   And that is just a bit much for me.

paddedhat

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One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

Jesus Christ on toast!  If I could get that kind of coin for that job, I would gladly un-retire and do one or two a month. As a contractor, I think of this as having two major parts, the saw cutting and the carpentry. First, a window, or entrance door cut, done by a specialty contractor, in an 8" poured concrete wall, is worth around $600 in this area. Now the big surprise of that subcontract is that they will do a fine job sawing a nice clean opening, then "gift" you a giant slab of scrap concrete, conveniently located exactly where it fell. So you need to rent an small electric jackhammer, and bust the piece up into handy sizes that you then hide under your neighbor's bushes, or something. Next you simply use pressure treated lumber and Tapcon concrete screws, and frame the interior of the new opening. The final step is to install the window, just like it was in a wood wall. No sweat. Total bill with window and all, as a DIY project?  $1200 +/- 10% or so.

 Six grand................holy shit, did this guy show up in his Ferrari to give you the proposal?

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Ok, my qualifications are pretty much 0, but I've done lots of DIY. Also, get more quotes.

I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.
This is a safety issue, and you may not have a choice to DIY depending on legal stuff. Hire someone qualified.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?
I'd try doing one and make sure it works. Minimum, you might be able to reduce your costs by doing the wire yourself and letting an electrician finish the rest.


Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.
What's wrong with the windows? If they just need TLC and will be good, then do the TLC. If they're beyond that, ok. I'm not going to replace a window by myself, but maybe find a friend/family member who is handy and can help?

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.
At that price, I'd pass. Get some more estimates.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?
I think this may be a hire it out. My parents hired a company to do it and it really did help.

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

Overall, get more quotes. But the electrical probably has to be done sooner rather than later as a safety issue.

TheInsuranceMan

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

Just to comment on the electrical..
We bought a new house, and had it switched from 100 amp fuse box to a 200 amp breaker box.  When upping the ampage, it needed to be done by a certified electrician as it had to be inspected by the state.  Just a heads up there.
We had knob and tube in the attic and upstairs walls, which I had them take out, and run new wire to as well (including adding an extra plug in in each room).  Total bill ended up just over $6k, $2-$2500 was the outside work and breaker box work, the rest was pulling old wire and running new wire.  We had him do a few extra things as well as we were updating a bathroom, so we put GFI's in there, and two new lights. 

I don't piss with electrical stuff because I don't like fires.  I'd do the windows myself, the insulation, if you are talking blowing into exterior walls, I'd hire it out.  If you are talking about filling the attic space, I'd do that myself.

Forcus

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What's the breakout on the $86k? $6k sounds high for the egress window. The replacement windows you can definitely do yourself. I did some in my last house and after you understand what you are doing it doesn't take long at all. Electrical, personally I only do minor stuff because the stakes are so high. Also most people think they are better at it than they really are. But stuff like roofing, siding, is all DIY-able.
Note, these opinions are from someone who is half-mustachian at best. Please consider my comments in that light.

robartsd

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.
Knob and tube has to go before insulation can be added. You sound a little more comforatable at the breaker box than I am - perhaps I need to improve my electrical DIY badassity enought to be comforatable adding a 20 amp breaker to an existing panel. I agree with getting a pro for the service entrance.

Blowing insulation into existing walls can be a pain - mostly the process of cutting and patching the holes needed. However, you might get a better quality job if you do it yourself and it shouldn't be too difficult, just time consuming. MMM had a post on DIY insullation including blown in insullation (his was in a atticless ceiling installed before sheetrock).

I agree with the cost for the basement wall opening enlargement sounding excessive (particularly if you're simply makeing the opening taller by lowering the sill level). The primary concer I'd have with this job is the structrual integrity which would likely be impacted if the opening is to be widened or the top of the opening is being raised. In some cases even removal of wall below the opening would cut through some important rebar. Perhaps the 6k quote includes temporary shoring, removal of a larger area of the wall, rebuilding that portion of the wall, backfill and cleanup.

TheInsuranceMan

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Oh, we did our egress window ourselves, but there was a couple caveats. 
1) We used my dad's backhoe to dig the hole for the egress window, and egress window surround
2) We used the local fire departments saw to cut the opening
3) My dad did construction for years, and if very, very good at things like this

Saved us a boat load of money though!

Chris22

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Having knob and tube wiring tells me doing things like windows is going to be a big PITA, because your windows are likely really old, non-standard size, etc.  Agree on the egress window, that's pretty easy, concrete saw + rented small demo hammer makes that a few hour job, no way is it worth $6k. 
"If I could get all the money back I ever spent on cars, I'd spend it on cars." - Nick Mason

BudgetSlasher

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I am going to preface this with a lot of the work you are discussing may require permits and/or inspection . . . whether you comply with that requirement is your call.

I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

It sounds like from the discussion in this thread the service entrance will be contracted out for time and safety purposes. You could still replace the main panel yourself. In your current configuration the utility would have to disconnect you while the work was being done and reconnect you, they may have rules about who can do the work or want an inspection before they will turn the power back on.

I mentioned in your current configuration because if you are going to be replacing the main panel anyways, I have a suggestion; have the service disconnect (which is usually a 200 amp breaker at the top of the box) located in a separate box upstream. In my house there is a manual generate transfer switch which also serves as a disconnect and it is quite nice to have the main panel complete cold when you are working in it and it seems you will be in there alot.

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Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Electrical work is pretty basic, the code for designing a new space can be infuriating. But, running new wire is not mentally taxing work . . . it just involves cramped spaces and awkward positions that often result in soreness.

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Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

Why? If they are in decent condition you should do some research, an old wood single pane window is just under R-1, the fancy modern windows are R-3 to 5 (an uninsulated wall probably has a higher R-value than a fancy window). A similar jump in efficiency can be made by building or buying storm window inserts. If you have to replace the windows anyway, yes get good energy saving windows; but, if your windows are in good condition you will probably never recover the investment to replace them.

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One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

6k seems steep depending on what is involved and it is very steep if it is not necessary (code requires a means of egress if there is bedroom there and maybe some other conditions). In any case seek another opinion.

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All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Simply to do, but a real pain.

Quote
Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

This is relatively simple and should be done before painting. My FIL did this to an old farm house when he was in his 70s. If you buy a certain amount of blow insulations most big box store will give you a day or two with the machine free. Filling the attic is easy you'll just spread it out like water from a garden hose and in wall cavities you will have to punch holes in the wall to feed the hose in and blow the insulation into the cavities (hence why you do it before painting). They also make a mesh you can attached to places like the underside of exposed floor joists and then blow insulation behind the mesh. Oh and it really is a two man/woman job; one to run the hose and one to feed bales of insulation into the machine.

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Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

Long ago I was given a rule of thumb that seems to hold true; whatever you think it is going to take double the cost and triple the time and you will be close.

abiteveryday

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I appreciate the input everyone.   One thing I didn't mention is that the main reason I wanted to hire all this out is that my kids are little (5&2) and it can be really difficult to get solid blocks of time to DIY.    I think the most likely path forward is to pay for the immediate safety concerns to be dealt with, then handle the rest in a couple years when I don't have to worry about a toddler reaching into not yet patched holes in the wall.   Aside from the electric panel, nothing is so urgent that it can't wait for some logic to develop.   

I also appreciate the specific commentary on some of the work.   The windows have been previously replaced and my heating bills are already low, but it was done cheaply and some don't stay open or don't close all the way anymore.  Plus a big one where the seal failed and there is fog between the panes.   Still, nothing that can't wait a bit longer, and in the meantime maybe I'll look for parts on the ones that don't stay open.

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

I'm actually comfortable doing that part, but I need to replace past the meter up to my roof (original #8 wire there).  Unfortunately I know enough about my local utility to know that the only way to not be out of power at least a week is to splice the hot overhead utility line myself.   And that is just a bit much for me.

I don't know about where you are but: Around here the meter is the Demarc for the service.  My electric company will do everything from the meter to the sub-station.  That's part of the connection.
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Seals on thermo windows can be redone, usually without removing the window.  Big savings for money, time, and mess.
When life closes a door, open it again. It's a door. That's how they work.

abiteveryday

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

I'm actually comfortable doing that part, but I need to replace past the meter up to my roof (original #8 wire there).  Unfortunately I know enough about my local utility to know that the only way to not be out of power at least a week is to splice the hot overhead utility line myself.   And that is just a bit much for me.

I don't know about where you are but: Around here the meter is the Demarc for the service.  My electric company will do everything from the meter to the sub-station.  That's part of the connection.
Unfortunately not the case here, I'm 100% certain

Spork

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

I'm actually comfortable doing that part, but I need to replace past the meter up to my roof (original #8 wire there).  Unfortunately I know enough about my local utility to know that the only way to not be out of power at least a week is to splice the hot overhead utility line myself.   And that is just a bit much for me.

I don't know about where you are but: Around here the meter is the Demarc for the service.  My electric company will do everything from the meter to the sub-station.  That's part of the connection.
Unfortunately not the case here, I'm 100% certain

Wow.  When I built my house, they trenched and put in about 150ft of conduit to the nearest transformer.  The only thing I had to do was cut a slot in my driveway for their trencher to cross through.
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zolotiyeruki

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I appreciate the input everyone.   One thing I didn't mention is that the main reason I wanted to hire all this out is that my kids are little (5&2) and it can be really difficult to get solid blocks of time to DIY.    I think the most likely path forward is to pay for the immediate safety concerns to be dealt with, then handle the rest in a couple years when I don't have to worry about a toddler reaching into not yet patched holes in the wall.   Aside from the electric panel, nothing is so urgent that it can't wait for some logic to develop.   
I have little kids, too, but it doesn't stop me from DIY projects.  What's so dangerous about an unpatched hole in the wall?  If you've got some knob & tube behind the hole that you're replacing, you should probably have that circuit turned off so that it's safe for you as well.

As for getting blocks of time to work, that's a problem for me as well.  One thing that works for me is to go to bed a bit earlier, and get up in the morning a bit earlier, and work like crazy before the kids get up.

lthenderson

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Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

I've done this  before and it was pretty easy to do. After you get your new box and breakers, call the electric company and they will pull the meter disconnecting power to your house. My company does this for free and said just give him a call later in the afternoon when I was finished and he would put the meter back in. As I removed the old breakers, label the hot wires so you know where they go. Put in the new box and reverse your steps. It took me all of two or three hours to replace it and only cost me a few hundred dollars for the parts. If you don't understand what is going on inside a breaker box though, definitely get a professional.

I'm actually comfortable doing that part, but I need to replace past the meter up to my roof (original #8 wire there).  Unfortunately I know enough about my local utility to know that the only way to not be out of power at least a week is to splice the hot overhead utility line myself.   And that is just a bit much for me.

I don't know about where you are but: Around here the meter is the Demarc for the service.  My electric company will do everything from the meter to the sub-station.  That's part of the connection.
Unfortunately not the case here, I'm 100% certain

Wow.  When I built my house, they trenched and put in about 150ft of conduit to the nearest transformer.  The only thing I had to do was cut a slot in my driveway for their trencher to cross through.

In my state, the utility company is responsible for the line up to the meter attached to the side of your house. From the meter to the breaker box is the homeowner responsibility.

abiteveryday

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I appreciate the input everyone.   One thing I didn't mention is that the main reason I wanted to hire all this out is that my kids are little (5&2) and it can be really difficult to get solid blocks of time to DIY.    I think the most likely path forward is to pay for the immediate safety concerns to be dealt with, then handle the rest in a couple years when I don't have to worry about a toddler reaching into not yet patched holes in the wall.   Aside from the electric panel, nothing is so urgent that it can't wait for some logic to develop.   
I have little kids, too, but it doesn't stop me from DIY projects.  What's so dangerous about an unpatched hole in the wall?  If you've got some knob & tube behind the hole that you're replacing, you should probably have that circuit turned off so that it's safe for you as well.

As for getting blocks of time to work, that's a problem for me as well.  One thing that works for me is to go to bed a bit earlier, and get up in the morning a bit earlier, and work like crazy before the kids get up.

The danger is my wife thinks it's unsafe, ergo...

Telecaster

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

I did all that stuff to my house.  If were going to do it again, I would start by knocking down all the interior sheet rock/lathe and plaster.  Sounds like overkill, but hear me out.   If you do that,  all the  tasks that sound hard become  easy.   For example, it is now dead simple to wire up all the outlets and light switches you want.   The window problem suddenly becomes much easier.  Same thing with the insulation.  It goes from a lot of work to not much work. 

The downside is that you have to hang new drywall.  But even that's not a total loss because you still would have had to do patching and painting, and once you get the hang of it drywall goes pretty fast. 






zolotiyeruki

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I did all that stuff to my house.  If were going to do it again, I would start by knocking down all the interior sheet rock/lathe and plaster.  Sounds like overkill, but hear me out.   If you do that,  all the  tasks that sound hard become  easy.   For example, it is now dead simple to wire up all the outlets and light switches you want.   The window problem suddenly becomes much easier.  Same thing with the insulation.  It goes from a lot of work to not much work. 

The downside is that you have to hang new drywall.  But even that's not a total loss because you still would have had to do patching and painting, and once you get the hang of it drywall goes pretty fast.
There is definitely some truth to this.  Putting in a big section of drywall is only slightly more work than a small chunk, and is certainly a lot less work than several small patches. And it makes the inside-the-wall jobs sooooo much easier.

The downside, of course, is the SAF (spouse acceptance factor).  Having big, gaping holes in the wall tends to elicit negative reactions from those not engaged in the work.

FWIW, you can definitely include the 5-year-old in the work.  If you can give him/her a specific task to help you out (even if it's just holding tools), it changes the kid from a distraction to an asset.

abiteveryday

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

I did all that stuff to my house.  If were going to do it again, I would start by knocking down all the interior sheet rock/lathe and plaster.  Sounds like overkill, but hear me out.   If you do that,  all the  tasks that sound hard become  easy.   For example, it is now dead simple to wire up all the outlets and light switches you want.   The window problem suddenly becomes much easier.  Same thing with the insulation.  It goes from a lot of work to not much work. 

The downside is that you have to hang new drywall.  But even that's not a total loss because you still would have had to do patching and painting, and once you get the hang of it drywall goes pretty fast.

In a world where I could send my wife and kids on vacation for a couple weeks, I might do that.   I think it's not really in play for now though.

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I did all that stuff to my house.  If were going to do it again, I would start by knocking down all the interior sheet rock/lathe and plaster.  Sounds like overkill, but hear me out.   If you do that,  all the  tasks that sound hard become  easy.   For example, it is now dead simple to wire up all the outlets and light switches you want.   The window problem suddenly becomes much easier.  Same thing with the insulation.  It goes from a lot of work to not much work. 

The downside is that you have to hang new drywall.  But even that's not a total loss because you still would have had to do patching and painting, and once you get the hang of it drywall goes pretty fast. 


This is a little overkill for the wife acceptance factor!

I rewired myself but just cut a strip out of the old plaster. Knock a hole in the wall and find the lathe. Slip a circular saw with a diamond blade or a reciprocating saw with a plaster blade between the lathe and cut a straight line. Do two cuts a foot and a half away from each other and remove the plaster and lathe between the cuts.

The foot and a half gives you plenty of room to run new wire, catch fish tape from above etc. You can precut your drywall and screw it in place at the end of the day so the kids can't get into it and there are no holes that make the room seem like a demolition zone. Once you are all done running wire, shim the drywall to match the depth the plaster, tape, and use hot mud to finish. 

I suppose you could cut the channel close to the ceiling and drop wires to boxes then use the channel to insulate from above. The problem with blowing insulation in an old house is you don't have a vapor barrier so mold becomes a possibility and blown insulation settles so the R value at the top of your walls will drop after a few years. If you are not willing to tear out all the walls, I would find other ways to make your home more efficient.   

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I had a few jobs building up as things we'd like to do in our home, and hearing a breaker arcing in my electrical panel was a good catalyst to try and get someone in to take a look.    The main tasks are:

Replace electrical panel and service entrance.   I've got a separate quote of $2700 to do this, and I'm inclined to just pay it and minimize the time out of power.

Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   I can add this on to the previous for about $11k total.    I'm about 50/50 on this one.   I can pull wire, I can install breakers, but I'm still a little leery.    Any amateurs want to reassure me that it's not too bad?

Replace several old windows.   I've watched some videos, done some reading, and feel like this is very doable but time consuming.    I'm assuming the first window takes twice as long as I plan, and by the end I can just knock them out.

One problematic window.    I had wanted to saw cut some basement concrete to make an existing window into a larger egress window.    Looks to cost about $6k on its own, but the special tools and know how lead me to think it might be beyond DIY level.    I guess I'll probably just punt on this.

All the interior patching and painting associated with the previous portions, plus exterior painting.   Minor siding repair as well.   I can handle this part for sure.

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?

Overall I'm sort of in shock.   It literally came in twice as much as I guessed, and I'm just going to have to find another way to do this.

I did all that stuff to my house.  If were going to do it again, I would start by knocking down all the interior sheet rock/lathe and plaster.  Sounds like overkill, but hear me out.   If you do that,  all the  tasks that sound hard become  easy.   For example, it is now dead simple to wire up all the outlets and light switches you want.   The window problem suddenly becomes much easier.  Same thing with the insulation.  It goes from a lot of work to not much work. 

The downside is that you have to hang new drywall.  But even that's not a total loss because you still would have had to do patching and painting, and once you get the hang of it drywall goes pretty fast.

In a world where I could send my wife and kids on vacation for a couple weeks, I might do that.   I think it's not really in play for now though.

Wouldn't they like to spend some time with her family this summer?

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In my state, the utility company is responsible for the line up to the meter attached to the side of your house. From the meter to the breaker box is the homeowner responsibility.

That's how I expect it to work anywhere.   The meter is the demarc though I have heard of folks way out in the country that had to string a mile or so of poles getting charged a one time fee. 
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In my state, the utility company is responsible for the line up to the meter attached to the side of your house. From the meter to the breaker box is the homeowner responsibility.

That's how I expect it to work anywhere.   The meter is the demarc though I have heard of folks way out in the country that had to string a mile or so of poles getting charged a one time fee.
The meter is the dmarc and I would expect routine maintenance to be taken care of by the utility, but if you want them to do something with a service entrance (install, upgrade, relocate, remove), it seems reasonable for the utility to charge you for the work.

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Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?


Given Seattle's mild temperatures, I don't see blown in wall insulation paying for itself, ever. Also, until you replace the knob and tube, assuming your knob and tube is inside the walls, blown in insulation violates code.
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abiteveryday

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Replace all the knob and tube circuits in the house, which is about half of them.   

Blowing insulation into the walls.    Don't have a separate price quote on this.     Anyone have experience on whether this is a DIY thing, or to just hire it out?  Special equipment needed?


, until you replace the knob and tube, assuming your knob and tube is inside the walls, blown in insulation violates code.

Yep.  And it's already in the attic covering a ton of knob and tube.  So today I've started flexing my DIY muscles and am vacuuming it out, out at least off the wires.  Already uncovered one open splice and I'm less than half done.

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I just had a basement egress window installed. The work involved removing the old small window, digging a new, much larger window well, cutting the concrete block, interior carpentry and finish , exterior finish, installing the window well liner thing. The total, for everything - labor and supplies was $1200 and they were in and out in about 1 1/2 days. $6200 for this work is ridiculous. I'd get some other estimates on that work. I live in a HCOL area - so I would expect the cost should be lower depending on COL.

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Another vote for complete tearout of Lathe/plaster and redo in drywall. BTDT.

You have a couple options - either do the whole house at once and tell your wife you are going for an "industrial loft" feel until things are done (you will be living in a reno for a long while) or do it a room at a time with lotsa wire leads hanging out all over the place.

Put your wife in charge of the trim and paint and let her pick colours. You may find she grants some grace then.

Your alternatives aren't good. I mean, blowing insulation in wall cavities results in voids where the bits get hung up on wires etc. and a gap at the top of the stud bays. Window replacement dictates wall damage and trim replacement. all of it means you are going to be either repairing plaster and trim or having shoddy work done. IMO, you are far better off to just bite the bullet and strip the walls. And if you ask the sparky to quote the job with vs without plaster on the walls you may find some amazing savings being offered.
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