I'm dealing with some contractor problems and I'm trying to get some information to figure out if the contractor is lying to me or just incompetent (or if I'm unreasonable).

We had a long delay of no work being done and they just started to do some work last week - and now they are saying they need another week to get materials.

This is a 1100 sq ft house. Nothing unusual about it. They are replacing all the existing knob and tube wires with up to code materials, including outlets and the main panel. This is something that was in the contract since day 1 so it's not something we just added. The electrician came over yesterday to look at the job and said he's waiting on materials before he can start.

The ONLY thing that's even remotely out of the ordinary - I asked him to run some ethernet cables as well.

Can't they pick up all of the materials from Home Depot or Lowe's? I even did a quick search on Amazon and I see they sell electrical panels which you can order with next day shipping.

Since they knew they had to do this when we first signed the contract, and there has already been over a month of no work being done, I think this delay is beyond unreasonable. I also don't think this delay is realistic since I just can't believe it's that hard to get very common materials for this type of job.

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    Did you give these people money yet? – Edwin Oct 8 '15 at 0:32
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    Is there a completion date in the contract? – Tester101 Oct 8 '15 at 1:05
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    Unfortunately yes, we already paid him quite a bit - on the plus side though the electrician is coming tomorrow morning now after I complained some. The thing i dont understand is this company has EXCELLENT reviews everywhere i looked. But so far from my experience their project management skills suck. There is a completion date in the contract although I'm not sure what's supposed to happen if he misses that date. – merk Oct 8 '15 at 7:56
  • Only other thing I could think about is that he likes to buy supplies from a certain person/store (for cost or other not-so-innocent reasons), and they are out of what he needs. But as the answers state - probably just stalling for any number of reasons. – JPhi1618 Oct 8 '15 at 13:02
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    He may have spent your deposit and dug himself a bit of a hole. – batsplatsterson Oct 8 '15 at 16:33

At the risk of throwing someone under the bus, NOTHING he would need could not be acquired at a real supply house (or even home center) in less than an hour and totally in stock. Even the ethernet cable (typically Cat5e) is nothing special in bulk and ANY electrician worth his salt should have the tools and be able to terminate.

I get the impression that he overbooked himself and needs time. Unfortunately for him we have the internet, so his excuse is easily debunked.

  • That's what i thought. The electrician is supposed to be starting work tomorrow morning. We'll see if he does - wont be the first time they said 'tomorrow' and it meant next week. – merk Oct 8 '15 at 7:50
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    In other words; the supplies he is waiting on is time. – ratchet freak Oct 8 '15 at 8:34
  • In the UK, long delays from contractors are (sadly) their normal method of doing business. Given that you have had the excuse of "can't get the materials, guv", get ready to be told that they have now been able to find them, but not from their usual supplier, and the price is a few hundred dollars above the original estimate. You will be given the option of paying the extra, or waiting a few more months for the job to start - welcome to their world! – alephzero Oct 8 '15 at 15:08
  • Be prepared another "standard" working practice as well - the guy arrives to start the job, makes some holes in the walls on the first morning, then disappears for a few weeks working on another job. If you phone them to complain, they will have plenty of unverifiable-but-probably-untrue stories to explain the situation. – alephzero Oct 8 '15 at 15:13
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    @alphazero, that's a pretty harsh assumption that that is a "standard" procedure. Sorry if you've had a bad experience, but don't lump all contractors into the same " standard" mold. – Speedy Petey Oct 8 '15 at 17:07

Wire, Cable, outlets, switches, conduit, panels, breakers etc. to wire a house are commodities. Easy to find. If you ordered special fixtures, that might be different. A good electrician would have what was needed, at least to start, right in the van.

  • No special fixtures. Like i said, nothing at all unusual or out of the ordinary. The most unusual thing is the ethernet cable. – merk Oct 8 '15 at 7:50

A total rewire is a big job. He probably hasn't managed his time well and doesn't have time to do your job right now. The "waiting for stuff" is likely to be not correct.


If he won the bid because he had the lowest price than he may have a supply house that is giving him a discount. So if he patronizes a specific store than possibly the retailer is part of the delay. But in reality if he has been a "no show" for a month than likely he's finishing up another job. Be alert, if this is how the contractor is starting his initial employment with you it would be wise to check his performance from references, county license, BBB, etc.

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    Most of the delay was caused by 2 factors - he didn't get the permits and the inspector came and shut it down until he got the permits, and he started the job too soon before we had everything planned out and designs finalized (kitchen remodel). I don't think this guy is a scammer - but i do think he does a poor job managing things. We'll see if the electrician actually shows up tomorrow. – merk Oct 8 '15 at 7:54
  • @merk - Dude, your project was shut down for a month. The GC has to keep their guys employed. You're lucky IMO to get lifted from the back burner in only a week. It's a lie, yes, but that's a lot 'easier' then explaining this. – Mazura Oct 9 '15 at 7:50
  • Its been close to 3 weeks since the permit was issued. So he had plenty of time to either pull guys off of a job or hire someone else. Has no problem using subcontractors since the guys who did the demo work (and will be installing flooring and most of the kitchen) are subs. Plumber was a sub too. Not entirely sure if the electrician is a sub. So far IMO this guy is just very bad at organizing things. He doesn't really seem to plan ahead, just jumps in starts doing stuff and then things get stuck because something wasn't planned out ahead of time. – merk Oct 9 '15 at 20:39

Is all wiring being fished in the walls or is it surface run in raceway?

With a house using Knob and Tube, I would suspect that access is limited. (old construction tends to be much harder to access) If that is the case, then there may be a back order for the surface mounted raceway.

  • Nope, it's all in the walls. The home inspector when we got the house said he thought the wiring could be replaced without too much trouble. But it doesn't matter now since even if he has to rip open the walls, patching and repainting the whole house is included. – merk Oct 8 '15 at 7:51
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    @BillFlippen, I absolutely disagree about access being limited in an old house. Snaking and access are MUCH easier in an older home as compared to a newer one, say 30 years or less. Balloon framing, no insulation, lack of fire stops, etc, all contribute to ease of snaking. Newer homes are WELL insulated and sealed, and have much more framing members than older homes. I have been doing this a long time and my area has MANY older homes, going back tot he 1700's, and this kind of my forte. – Speedy Petey Oct 8 '15 at 11:05
  • well my house is old but not that old :) Built in the 1940s. So far snaking wires hasn't been an issue for them. They've just had to make a few small holes for some of the wires – merk Oct 9 '15 at 17:51
  • @SpeedyPetey I agree, once in the walls, fishing is easy for the old houses, however as the house ages things get added on and getting to the wall can be a pain. I was just trying to rule out that possibility. But even if that was the case, then the lack of communication is the biggest issue. I find letting my customer know what is going on goes a long way in keeping them happy – Bill Flippen Oct 9 '15 at 20:11

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