From time to time, we get questions (usually from newer users) asking if a cost estimate from a contractor is reasonable or how much the OP should expect to pay.

These questions have been off-topic from the early days of the site because project costs, especially labor, can vary dramatically from place to place and over time as demand for contractor services rises and falls.

However, the amount of time to complete a particular task shouldn't have that much variability, regardless of when or where the project is taking place. I wonder if it would be reasonable to ask the OP to reword these questions to focus on the tasks involved. For example,

How much would it cost to add a new electric circuit in my bedroom?

It's a two-story timber-framed house; service panel is in the basement, etc.
How much will this cost?


How much time should it take an electrician to add a new electric circuit in my bedroom?

Description of house and existing wiring as before.
The electrician has quoted X hours of labor. Is this a reasonable amount of time?

My hope is that the OP would be able to get an idea of what needs to be done for the project, then they can use that to see if a contractor is giving them a reasonable quote for the work.

  • The trouble is there's too much variability from job to job, so it's difficult to estimate how much time it should take to complete a job.
    – Tester101
    May 10, 2015 at 22:26

2 Answers 2


Even time can be highly variable. Is there fire blocking in the wall preventing wires from being easily fished? Is the breaker panel at capacity requiring an upgrade to the entire panel? Is the construction older with the potential for aluminum or even knob and tube? Are they including cleanup, drywall patching, or even painting? Is the estimate for one contractor, or one with an assistant or two, or a full team to do everything? These questions also quickly slip into contractor negotiation and rants of problems with contractors, the former being localized and the latter really doesn't help anyone else.

The better question is "what steps are involved in adding a circuit" and from there, the OP can determine if a contractor is skipping steps or over charging. The result is more education that can be used outside of that single question.


I think these are totally acceptable questions. I would even like to ask some of these types of questions from time to time.

The arguments against it are valid but they really apply to almost any type of question we have on here. Half of the questions that we deal with are states, country, environment, county, code adoption, whatever - specific.

I have given a lot of these answers inside comments or inside a more detailed answer. Most of the time I give a pretty big range and give background to why there is range.

Alas the example here I would never answer though. I can run a new circuit myself but I am not an electrician by trade. I would love to hear @Tester101's response to how much it would cost to redo a circuit for a bedroom. I would expect that OP to say where the bedroom is, number of outlets, who would handle opening walls, who would repair walls, how accessible box is, how accessible is the area between the first outlet and the box and so on. These things can be asked and answered. It is the same as if someone asked "How would I add a new circuit to bedroom?"

Then based on the info I would expect a price range. This could be dependent on hourly price, doing extra work (drywall), and could cover unknowns.

Also you could just use what my electrician does with my houses - gives it a quick lookover and says that a new circuit is $400-800 (dependent on issues) and that I am dealing with all the patching and clean up.

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