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Archive for February, 2011

Low Bid Syndrome – why cheap usually can’t also be good in construction

February 24th, 2011 No comments

This came to me in part of an email from a contractors blog I read.  It is a re-post of someone else’s comments, I did not write it.  That said, I could not agree more!

Low bid Syndrome – why cheap usually can’t also be good in construction

  • There have been countless news stories by leading national and local news magazines about unscrupulous contractors that disappear with homeowner deposits, operate without a license or never complete the work.
  • Some contractors will simply throw out a low bid as a negotiating strategy. Contractors with integrity give their best price the first time and include specific details of all materials to be used in the proposed project.
  • Every contractor is in business to make money. If you receive a bid that is 15% or more below another bid – it simply isn’t the same job. It can’t be because there isn’t that much profit margin in a project. The contractor either isn’t using the same materials or will cut corners on installation in order to make a profit. There are many places to cut corners of which the unsuspecting homeowner/client is unaware.
  • As noted in the quote from the Wall Street Journal, it is easy to be fooled by the low quote and a “nice person”. If a bid seems to be too good to be true, it is. Call at least 5 references and ask about the total job cost at completion versus the proposal pricing.  Did it go like it should?  Did they get what they paid for?
  • Many times, the low bidder isn’t licensed to perform the work proposed. An unlicensed contractor either does not have the experience or competency to secure a contractor’s license or has cut a corner to save money by avoiding the cost associated with being licensed, bonded and insured.
  • Unfortunately for homeowners, if they hire someone who is not licensed, they have no recourse through the ROC complaint process or the Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund.

If you are seriously considering hiring any contractor with a very low bid ask all the important questions and get the answers in writing to every question before you sign any paperwork. You will be glad you did.

Electrical Tip of the Day – don’t use the “stab in the back” connections!

February 24th, 2011 No comments

Ask any well trained journeyman electrician who has done service work about “stab in the back” outlets and switches and you will be in for an ear full.  We jokingly call them back stabbers or service call generators, because that is exactly what they do. We get a least a call a week one these from someone, usually in one of the newer track homes built in the last 20 years, that has lights flickering or an outlet that seems to have quit working.  On the more dangerous end of the spectrum we get those frantic calls about how an outlet or switch just seemed to MELT in the wall.

Let me introduce you to  “stab in the back” switches and outlets – one of the most dangerous installs methods we find used in the electrical trades:

stab in the back switch

These devices rely on small metal pinchers recessed in holes in the back of the plastic case to hold the wire contentions in place.  They are very poor quality connections and make even worse junctions for feed thru wiring methods (daisy chaining from outlet to outlet to outlet).  Most reliable companies will not even allow the use of this method and require their employees to use the proven method of pig tail wiring:  Wire nuts for pig tailing multiple wires together, and the biding screws on the devices for the final mechanical connection of conductors to the devices.

Here is a picture of properly secured wire on an outlet by use of the binding screws to get an idea of what the difference looks like:

side wired outlet

Next time you have a screw driver handy go take a cover plate off any device location in your home, might need a flash light to look in the box, but you will be able see  right away of the installer used the binding screws or not.  If they did not consider giving us a call to talk about some options on replacement or re-termination of the existing devices.

Remember – don’t get stabbed in the back!

Electrical Tip of the Day: Electronic data back-up with ioSafe

February 22nd, 2011 No comments

What’s on your hard drive?

When was the last time you made a backup copy?

As a small business owner it’s important to keep my customer records, financials and projects that sit on my computer backed up. More and more we rely on our digital communications and trust our precious data to our computer hard drives every single day. What most people fail to realize is that computer hard drives are mechanical, eventually they will fail. That said; the majority of small business owners and consumers never realize how important it is to backup until it’s too late.

At Artisan Electric we trust our data on ioSafe hard drives. We backup vital business information, family photos and even videos as do many other local businesses here in town. The experts agree and everyone from PCWorld  to MacWorld has great things to say too. As such, we have compiled a list of some of the best reviews so you can be the judge and draw your own conclusions.

VideoMaker Magazine
We included the VideoMaker review because one of our close friends and Small Business of the Month winners is JP Video Productions in Downtown Lafayette, Indiana. Jay and his team help us with our web videos and tv commercials.

VideoMaker was founded in 1985 and according to their website has 50,000 subscribers to their newstand magazine every month. Known as the authority on all things digital video and HD video, thousands of people look to VideoMaker for the latest news, reviews and technology related to production and digital storage.  Recently the magazine and website did a review of the SoloPRO that takes a look at rugged protection and performance of the ioSafe fire proof hard drive.

Read the Full Review Here:
http://www.videomaker.com/article/15147/

EverythingUSB  Review
Since 2002, the folks at EverythingUSB has been reviewing technology products and gear.  Very well respected in their industry, this website is full of great information on most things digital.  If you are  a gear geek like we are you’ll appreciate all of the technical details and benchmark performance tests in this review of the SoloPRO fireproof hard drive It’s one of the most comprehensive we could find.

You can read the entire review here:
http://www.everythingusb.com/iosafe-solopro-external-usb-3.0-hard-drive-20023.html

TechRepublic
A renowned online community coupled with IT resources, reviews from enterprise management to home user tips and guides – the TechRepublic is a very comprehensive resource and research tool for anyone that craves quality content and expert knowledge. The TechRepublic writer does a nice job of conveying how important it is to keep active electronics cool in a fire safe as he compares traditional fireproof safes to the ioSafe fire proof hard drive

Read the full review here:
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/security/iosafe-solo-could-i-interest-you-in-a-fire-proof-hard-drive/1719

Video Reviews

Sometimes you need to see it to believe it and that’s why YouTube was created J

Light fixture restoration

February 4th, 2011 No comments

Getting ready to start a restoration of this beautiful 100 year old lead crystal and brass chandler.  Getting custom parts made, new reproduction chain and proper hanging bracket, new lamp holders and fixture wire, and a gentle cleaning.

di lamp

Knob and tube attic fire

February 4th, 2011 No comments

Called out to do a quote this past week on an attic fire caused by incorrectly spliced knob and tube wiring that was illegally covered with insulation.  It is not permissible to have knob and tube wiring covered with insulation.  These folks were lucky they were home or they would have lost this 100 year old farm house.

attic fire

HD projector install

February 4th, 2011 No comments

We did this HD projector install a few weeks back.  Not the best reference picture in the world (took it with my iphone in a dark room) but you get the idea.  The image size on this screen is 150″ – full 1080P HD.

HD pro