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ameyers41

Wiring a basement

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I know there are some professionals and amateurs that are much more handy than I am, so I'm hoping for some good advice.

We have a split level home that has a completely unfinished basement. We have completed the framing (by ourselves) and are ready to move on to the electrical. The basement is 1200sf with 2 br's, bathroom and family room. The only electric run downstairs at this time is the laundry room.

If I hire out from start to finish, what kind of cost am I looking at for that size, ballpark?

If I run all the wires myself, saving on time/labor costs, would a licensed electrician come out and hook everything up? I'm a little gun shy electrocuting myself to be honest...

I guess in general, I'm looking for opinions on how tough the job is to do myself and how much it will cost to hire out.

Thanks!

Tony

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Running wires is not hard and you can do it yourself. Just put your boxes where you want them and run wires between them. I would probably check with contractors first to see what they charge if you do and if you don't. You might not save that much. And if you don't do it up to code the will have to redo it and that will cost you.

I did my whole basement. Just wired it up and then put the breakers in and wired to them. Not all that hard, but you would want some background in it.

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Yup, I have heard of people doing the wire runs and then hiring an electrician to do the actual wiring. Pretty good idea if you don't want to learn the specifics.

That being said, it's really not that hard to read up on this and wire it yourself. I did my split level basement about 5 years ago and had no problems. If you're just wiring things like boxes, lights, and switches it's not that complicated. Start getting into 2 and three way switches and it get's a little more tricky. Do everything to code and get it inspected. Try to use the 12 gauge wire if possible, last I checked it doesn't cost much more than 14.

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Call a couple Electricians and ask them to give you bids. You'll learn a bit from talking to them, then when you get their prices you can decide what you want to do. The money you save by doing it yourself will mainly be your labor instead of theirs, which at $60/hour or more can be significant. Make sure your current panel has enough open spaces to handle at least 4-6 more breakers for the new circuits, otherwise you'll need to have a new panel or a sub panel installed.

Once you've wired one circuit and installed and connected the breaker in the panel, the rest of the circuits are done pretty much the same as that one.

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I will echo the others in saying that it really is pretty straight forward. There are a couple of really good books you can buy at places like Home Depot or Lowes.

Be aware of this though, there are some very specific codes that you will need to follow in certain circumstances. GAI breakers for the bedrooms, and GFI breakers for the bath.

Also some other small things the inspector will be looking for in the boxes are pigtails, strip insulation length, that they are not overcrowded. Also that the receptacle boxes are spread apart within spec.

As far as wiring the breakers into the box, you can get a very good idea by looking at the existing wiring as a reference.

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Call a couple Electricians and ask them to give you bids. You'll learn a bit from talking to them, then when you get their prices you can decide what you want to do. The money you save by doing it yourself will mainly be your labor instead of theirs, which at $60/hour or more can be significant. Make sure your current panel has enough open spaces to handle at least 4-6 more breakers for the new circuits, otherwise you'll need to have a new panel or a sub panel installed.

Once you've wired one circuit and installed and connected the breaker in the panel, the rest of the circuits are done pretty much the same as that one.

You might not need 4-6 more breakers so dont go get a new panel if you dont have that many open spaces, talk with a electrician first(or someone else knowledgable). Many boxes allow for mini-breakers if you run out of space. Also, If its a already finished upstairs I would guess you wont need 6 breakers just for the downstairs if you are just doing standard lights and switches.

If you are running just the wiring and terminating at boxes, make sure to leave enough wire for the electrician to complete the connections at the box. Also, read up on the code for running the wire between boxes, things such as how close a wire must be secured to the box, etc..

In regards to running 12 ga throughout the basement. I cant reference any codes right now but wont you then have to use all 20amp outlets and switches?

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Thanks everyone for the honest advice. I will likely start calling around and getting bids.

I think it's great that I can use a fishing message board to get other types of advice like this. Thanks everyone!

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When you are done will your basement be finished or unfinished? There are totally different criteria for each situation. If you do it yourself, I highly recommend that you have it inspected per Minnesota law. There's a lot more involved than just knowing how to hook up receptacle and make something work when you plug it in. I assume you want a properly grounded system, wired and protected with appropriate OCPD and other safety devices in place.

Bob

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BobT - It will be completely finished. The permit has been approved and all inspections will be done per the city of Brooklyn Park, which I believe defers electric to MN code and inspection.

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You will need one 20amp breaker just for the bathroom GFI outlet, and a 15 amp spark breaker for the bedrooms and tie bath lighting and fan into also, and maybe 2 more 15 amp for outlets,lighting and any tv area for the rest of the basement.

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I have plenty of space in for all the breakers in the box. That should not be a concern.

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You will need one 20amp breaker just for the bathroom GFI outlet, and a 15 amp spark breaker for the bedrooms and tie bath lighting and fan into also, and maybe 2 more 15 amp for outlets,lighting and any tv area for the rest of the basement.

You are allowed to tie both bathrooms outlets together on the same 20amp breaker as long as no switches or lights are on the circuit. Essentially, if the breaker used for the upstairs only powers the one outlet you could use the same to power the downstairs bathroom outlet.

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