What to charge,...

dar2005

Novice Member
I've been asked by a near neighbour to design and install their AV setup. This is based on the work I've done on mine (link to pictures at the bottom of this post), which he likes very much. I'm happy to oblige and to do the work for him, but he insists he wants to pay me.

I have absolutely no idea what a reasonable charge would be. The work involved will include,...

Recommending kit - TV, AMP, Speakers etc etc.
Installing cable runs (before plastering is done by their builder).
Installing TV and AV kit and connecting up.
Programming a Harmony remote to control it all.
Installing IR light switches (straight replacement for existing switches), and programming onto the remote.

As this will be my first project for another person, consequently I don't want to charge too much, but on the other hand this work will take a considerable amount of my time, so I want it to be a reasonable charge.

I would really value your opinions on this.
 

sirroundsound

Standard Member
When your uncertain, it might be best to suggest an hourly wage.
It sounds like your not actually in this business and this would be a project for "cash".
Keep in mind some of the ramifications (sp?) of what your doing. If your not a licenced electrician and your going to play with his lighting, who has the insurance to cover you if something goes wrong?
It's one thing to do things in your own home, but once you set foot in another you take on responsibilities that could come back to bite you in the butt.
What if something doesn't work, and they think it might have been something you did, who pays for the repair?
There are many other things that can go wrong, and maybe not very serious, but could cost you a lot of time to trouble shoot.

Not trying to say NO, don't do it. Just make sure your eyes are open before you go in and end up over your head, or committing to a price, and spending what could feel like a lifetime trying to get the project finished.
 

vex

Novice Member
Agree completely.

It is like the old computer question, which I dread!

'Can you pop round and help set up my router*/printer*/email*/network* (*delete as appropriate)' which you do and all is hunky doory.

Then a couple of days later.

Ring-Ring, 'My ##########* (insert suitable but unrelated hard/software) isn't working, you used it last so you must have broken it'

Equally, I am not trying to put you off, but tread carefully.

V.
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
I think it needs to be said twice, the second you take on that responsibility you're on your own. Y

our charge for the service can reflect the fact that you are taking responsibility for the design of the system, but also means that you are essentially in your clients pocket (even when what you have done cannot possibly have caused fault you still become that person they will call and blame...). Also consider that taking a fee means you are responsible for any damage your design may cause either by direct faults due to the selection and installation of products (overheat damage to AV or furniture etc) or through use (ergonomics of design e.g. you get sued because you put the DVD player too low and someone did their back in changing the disc). We all have indemnity insurance for such things...

Of course if you are just doing this for a mate then get him to fund your next upgrade or something. But beware... people can turn incredibly quickly if things go wrong (or even so much as seem to go wrong).
 

mkleynhans

Standard Member
Hi there,
I will represent the advocate on the other shoulder.

Having looked at your installation, I think you have done a pukka job.

From what you have mentioned, the customer is not looking for the most
complicated setup. It's a great first time project to get the ball rolling.
To steer clear of most of the suggestions that the pro's have mentioned I would suggest the following;

1. Specify components that you know will work well together and are reliable. By the sound of things, you are not trying to sell on the kit to him for a profit so specify it, let him buy the kit himself (perhaps advise on locations to buy from) and help by making sure he understands the warranties on the items.
This way, if something breaks down during the warranty period, he can arrange the replacement and he can expect to pay you for your time to swap it out / re-install it.

2. On the IR dimmers, once again specify a decent make that will work well with the Logitech remote and tell him that a local electrician will need to fit it if you are not one yourself. This need not be an expensive exercise assuming that there are only one / two switches for the lounge.

Getting into the game of doing it for others and earning out of it is never easy, I have had to go through this for the last 18 months and am only now starting to get the costing right with regards to labour. Things always take longer, especially on entire home refurbishment jobs.
The one good thing is at least it's only next door and not an hour's drive away so it's a very good first time job.

We usually have a sit down to discuss exactly what the customer wants out of the system (which it sounds like you have done), then go back with drawings of the rooms, product spec sheets, samples (printed off illustrations may do in your case) and a quotation. We go over the solution and make sure we have covered everything. At this stage, it's worth ironing out the final details i.e. speaker positions, heights, finishes etc.

On your quotation, break each element down and put a realistic amount of time in hours to each task. Don't forget the planning / design time.
We build in two contingencies, both of 15% of the entire amount that you believe it will take. The first will be for any issues that WILL arise with getting the system installed & configured to their liking and the second for the inevitable return visits to show them how to do things once you have handed it all over.
30% overall may sound a lot but to date, we have always used this up in one way or another. Up to you I guess as it's a smaller first time / favour / cash type job.

Once costs are agreed, meet with any third parties involved (Electricians, builders, decorators) onsite to agree positions and timescales etc.
Ideally with the customer present. If you are going down the route of others for chasing and electrics, make the customer aware of this at the quotation stage. Set realistic timescales between the chasing, your first fix and the plastering, especially if you work full time elsewhere and are going to be doing this evenings / weekends. It may be tricky expecting the customers lounge to be like this for any prolonged period so a day off your real job after the chasing day might be prudent to get all cabling in. Then the plastering / decoration can be completed in your absence.

The rest is pretty straight forward really - you have the aptitude to do the actual installation, just remember, people are perfectionists when it comes to finishes in their own homes, the smallest details and flaws WILL be picked up on so get it right before any snagging!!

Good luck and post the results!!
 

dar2005

Novice Member
Thanks everyone for your input and advice.

Having thought more about the whole exercise, and talking again with the neighbour, we've agreed that his builders/electricians will do all the 'hard' work, and my job will be to advise where to put things, and what to buy, and also the installing and setting up when they arrive. I'm happier with that as I have a day job, and value my weekend time! And he doesn't mind paying the builders to do the extra bits required. To that end, we've got a Satellite/Aerial installer coming this Saturday, while I'll be doing the speaker runs - that should be the limit of me getting my hands dirty on this one! I've already shown him some of the kit I'd recommend on the Internet, and Saturday afternoon I'm taking him to a local shop who have some decent demo-rooms setup so he can see it / hear it in person. We're probably a few weeks away from ordering the actual kit as there's still a large amount of building work required on the house.

Thanks again for all your help.
 

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