People often criticize the DIY websites for giving out advice to the general public, but this is often not as clear cut as it seems. For some jobs you have no option- you have to get a tradesman in, but for others you might want to give it a go yourself. If you are not 100% certain what you are doing, the obvious place to look would be the internet. That decking project that you have been planning for years could work out very expensive if you have to employ a tradesman to do all of the work!
Lets say that you are replacing a light fitting, in the past you would of consulted a DIY book, so you read the relevant page and then you have some idea of what you are doing. You isolate the circuit and proceed to remove the old light fitting. Now you notice that the wires you have at the light fitting to not correspond with what is in your DIY book or the instructions for the light!
Now you are left with no light in that room and the probability is that if you switch the electricity back on you are going to have a whole lighting circuit that is not working.
After the initial panic has subsided you reach for the phone book and find an electrician, you tell him that you have removed the old light fitting and cannot fit the new one. After he has finished laughing to himself he tells you the price for coming and sorting out your problem.
Electricians normally charge between £15-60 per hour depending on where you are located. The electrician charging £15 per hour will probably have a call out charge, whilst an electrician charging £30 per hour might just charge a minimum of two hours, so you could be looking at between £30 and £60 to get your light fitted by an electrician. Many electricians would call this a beer money job as it would literally take them 10 minutes and if you were lucky enough to live near an electrician he might just offer to do it on his way home and charge you £10-£20 cash.
Now that you have the price from the electrician you are thinking that a simple job that should only take 10 minutes has turned into a nightmare. That £15 light that you bought from the DIY store is now going to turn into a £45-£75 light.
You search Google and find a DIY website that might have the information that you require, but you have to register for their forum before you can ask a question. You fill in the required information and it is totally free. Now you post your question and within a couple of hours some helpful person has answered you and told you how to wire your new light fitting.
The light fitting is now wired back up and the electricity is restored and Bingo- your new light works as it should do and at the cost you expected.
Why was the electrician going to be so expensive- he must be very well off earning that kind of money. Not really when you consider all the overheads that the electrician has to pay for. If he charged an hourly rate of £15 his actual hourly rate after all of his overheads would be much less than this, perhaps even half of that amount!
Legitimate tradesmen/women have some serious overheads to pay out before they even think of taking out a wage, here are some costs that an electrician would face annually-
Public liability insurance
Cost of a vehicle
Insurance for Vehicle
Fuel for vehicle
Tools ( bear in mind that some tools are £500 each )
Cost of training
Membership to an approved organisation, such as NAPIT ( membership to some of these organisations are a few hundred pounds per year)
When you take all of the above into consideration a hourly rate of £25 seems very reasonable!
There are even times when it is cheaper to employ a trades person to do the work for you. I once needed to dry line the majority of a house that I was renovating. I went to a few merchants and got a price for all the plasterboard and dry wall adhesive, the price was approximately £500 I then got a price from a dry lining company and they could dry line the whole property including materials and two people doing the job for £450
Often tradesmen/women will get discounts from certain merchants and they often get huge discounts of up to 85% of the price quoted in the store. If the tradesman/woman passes this discount onto the customer then everyone is happy as the customer gets a real bargain and the tradesman/woman earns her daily wage. It is very annoying when the tradesman keeps this discount and hides it from the customer. I have often seen tradesmen showing customers around the large building merchants and pointing out how expensive items are- knowing full well that they will be getting up to a 85% discount on that price!