Saturday, March 25, 2006

Which is more scary?

I was thinking about something this week in terms of remodeling projects. Which is more scary? Hiring other people to do the work or taking on projects yourself? Personally, I find doing the work ourselves less scary. I know myself. I know Steve. I know how we work and that we will finish a job and do top quality work albeit at a slower pace, but the results will be good.

Oh, there's been the occasional nervousness of maybe we bit off more than we can chew. Or grumpiness from being tired and overworked. But it doesn't compare to the stress of dealing with contractors and getting quotes. Now if we bite off more than we can chew, we might have to eat mac-n-cheese for a year or wear socks with holes or something.

One contractor tells us we need to upgrade the electrical service to the building because it's only 100 amps. The next one we meet with says if 100 amps comes into the building, that means that each floor can have 100 amps maximum. Which is true? We called Comed and they can't even verify how much power we have. All they have on record is the 30 amps the building originally had. So, we need to meet with more electrical contractors.

Great Lakes Structural came over to discuss the beams etc... I won't give myself a heart attack talking about that meeting. We have a structural engineer coming this week to give us the low-down and maybe I'll post about it then.

My job now is to write up a contract and lien waiver for all the workers to sign. That way if they don't get paid by the main contractor, they can't come after us. blech. We don't have to do this when we are the workers...


Megan said...

I've recently decided that it is much less scary when you are doing the work yourself. I have much more control about the kind of job that gets done, and the financial stakes always seem lower. But I just don't have certain skills, like plumbing, electrical, and anything involving 25 foot ladders.

M said...

FYI, my copy of Electrical Wiring Residential says that the minimum service size for single family homes is 100 Amps, but does not mention two-flats. It shows two methods that can be used to calculate service load that involve adding in this and that for each type of appliance, heater, etc. It also says NEC 220.84 provides the calc method for multi-family dwellings, in case you want to look it up, although the Chicago electrical code probably has it's own version of this (I've accessed this code book at the library downtown before). Logic would seem to indicate that the summed trip rating of all the service panels cannot exceed the rating of the service line, but maybe that is not the case. We have 3 panels and 3 meters here including one set installed within 5 or so years, each rated at 100Amps and I think we have only a 100 Amp service line - no way is it 300 Amps. The book also says 100 Amp lines use 1 1/2 inch conduit and 200 Amp lines use 2 inch conduit, so you can probably tell what you have by looking at your line outside the house.

Anonymous said...

Our project was so big (um, we're not framers, LOL) that I can't imagine doing it ourselves--at least, not putting on the second story. And the fact that we have two (almost three) small children also makes a big difference. Hiring a contractor was pretty much a necessity.

But I know what you mean about feeling like you do it the right way when you do it yourself. I think that's why we're planning to assemble the kitchen ourselves. And overall we designed EVERYTHING. I am so glad we didn't hire an architect. This house is truly ours :-)

I've got the DIY itch, tho. I can't wait to tackle the landscaping. The yard is all mine, baby.

Jocelyn said...

M- Just curious- you said you have 3 meters/panels. Is one for the common areas of the building? We were told we might have to split ours that way also, which isn't a bad idea in case we ever move upstairs.

Thanks for the conduit tip, we will check that out.

M said...

Re the 3 panels, yes, one is for the common areas, in theory anyway. The account with ComEd is labeled as "bldg" where the apt number usually is. I say in theory because since it is newer, it really only feeds the stuff in the basement that was easy to switch over. The other common area stuff like the outside lights and front stairs is fed off of our unit, which historically had been the owner's unit. I also came accross this re electrical services: