Media center filter: Do the job well, or be cheap about it?
June 10, 2010 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Media center filter: Do the job well, or be cheap about it?

My husband and I want to rearrange our living room, among other house projects this summer, and that includes moving the 52" plasma TV and it's buddies (DVR, receiver, turntable, DVD, surround sound stuff) to the other side of the room, where there is just one lonely electrical outlet.

So we need to get a cable input, a phone/ethernet line (for Blu-Ray option down the road), and more electrical, installed on that wall. Plus we need to reconfigure all of the speakers and wires. It's an inside wall, so crawling under the house is necessary. We need to do all of this before putting in hardwood flooring in August (bye-bye carpet).

Here's the catch:
My husband thinks that all of this should cost no more than $200. I have an estimate from a recommended installer (an electrician who does a lot of media set-ups) for $1668.

Here's all the stuff the installer would do:
1. To disconnect the TV and related items from the existing location
2. To relocate the existing Satellite Dish, and speaker wires to the new location
3. To cut in a new 2g device box, fish in wire and provide and install a bulk wire plate for the satellite dish and speaker wires
4. To add a new quad outlet in the new TV location
5. To relocate the existing TV and related components to the new location
6. To leave the existing Sub Woofer in its existing location and re feed the speaker wire to the new stereo location
7. To connect and test all
8. Add a data line at the new TV and components.

I'm holding on to the estimate trying to figure out how to handle this. After 23 years together, I know from hard experience that this estimate will be rejected without discussion. And if I push the point, it will turn into one hellacious fight. The issue isn't that we can't afford it, he's just downright...well...frugal is the polite way to say it.

So do I give up on getting the job done right, or even at all? Do I somehow sneak around him? (I pay all of the bills and do all of the banking.) It's true that the new flooring is costing some good money but we've been planning to do it for a few years now.

Sorry for the long post.

Help me MeFites!
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Tell him to find someone willing to do it for $200, or it isn't happening? He shouldn't attempt to do it on his own, unless he actually knows what he's doing.
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:28 AM on June 10, 2010

Your husband's estimate is way too low, by a factor of at least 4-5. The electrician's estimate is on the high side, but unless you're extremely handy, this sounds like work for a professional, especially the power outlet, for safety reasons. Running the speaker and other cables through the walls (that's what you're talking about in #2-3, right?) is also tough. Those are the two jobs that I wouldn't take on without serious forethought and expertise. The rest... maybe. Still tough, though, and a much higher likelihood of being not quite right.

I don't understand the phone/ethernet line for Blu-Ray-- is it for internet-connected content? A lot of players have wireless connections, or easily-available wireless dongles, and that would cut down on one cable installation.

As to what you should do with your husband... would he accept it as an early/late birthday/holiday/anniversary gift? You could get it done right and he would have an excuse not to think about cost. I'm loathe to tell you to lie, and say you got the installer to drop his price, but it really can't be relocated correctly (or at all) in the manner that you mention for $200. If he won't pay more, and you don't want to shade the truth, I would say he's SOL.
posted by supercres at 7:43 AM on June 10, 2010

A lot of the cost above is labor. Is the $200 your husband is estimating for the cost just materials, where he'll do all the labor?

The estimate seems high to me but I could do 90% of this myself so I wouldn't pay someone too. I have, perhaps, similar "frugal" tendencies to your husband though.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:45 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

Electricians are notoriously expensive, but some are willing to negotiated. Have you tried the old "I don't want to pay more than $___"? It's worth a try to at least try to drop the price a bit before you go back to your husband.

Going around your husband is definitely not the way to go.
posted by litnerd at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2010

Find another media electrician and get another estimate.
posted by CathyG at 8:32 AM on June 10, 2010

This isn't a matter of getting the job done right, or even at all, there are certainly compromises. First off, be clear what you need. No need to pad your list unnecessarily with things like "disconnecting the TV," "moving the TV" or "connecting and testing." Disconnecting and moving something across a room is something you can do yourself. Testing to make sure one's work is functional is not a added bonus. And like someone else mentioned, you don't need an ethernet port installed, just a wireless signal.

I am the frugal one in the relationship. I am very much like your husband. Wait until you have more information to talk with your husband. Get a few more estimates, not just one. If it were me, and if none of the estimates were acceptable, then I'd need to reevaluate my priorities and compromise. You both need to be willing to compromise. Going behind your husband's back is not a healthy way to deal with money.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 9:15 AM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think the disconnect between the two estimates is that your husband is giving you a materials cost without labor, while the electrician is giving you everything.

None of this sounds really difficult for anyone with minor electrical/sheetrock experience and a decent home repair/remodeling book or two. Especially without the flooring in - that's going to make running wires under the subfloor a cinch becuase you can drill holes and such freely. I just fished some wire through a ceiling and down a wall for the first time and it wasn't all that difficult. Changing a single gang box to a double gang is pretty easy with the right box and tools. But why not just use a multioutlet surge protector to accomplish the same task.
posted by Big_B at 9:38 AM on June 10, 2010

Your husband is correct, if he's talking about doing this himself. Hell, you could probably do it all for less than $200 if you have tools already.

People are generally terrified out do-it-yourself electrician work, but in reality it isn't super difficult and can be worked on safely. If you're that worried about it, your husband could do it himself and you can call your local code inspector to look at it before you switch everything on. It'll be free and you'll be up to code officially.

Even if I was flush with cash I wouldn't spend $1700 on that media-center install guy. That's insane. I'm 22 and rewiring my 90 year old house myself. Halfway done and I haven't died yet. (It helps that our code inspector lives literally next door.)
posted by InsanePenguin at 11:16 AM on June 10, 2010

Seconding the suggestion to get another quote, possibly two. You can then make a more informed decision on what to do.
posted by mr_silver at 3:31 AM on June 11, 2010

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