Pricing can be one of the biggest concerns for a homeowner and a small business. We all work hard for our money and want to maximize the investments that we make with it. At Switched Electric we know and understand that sentiment, as we work hard for our customers and keep their concerns as our own.

In reality there are just two simple ways that a contractor prices out work;

1) Time & Materials 

2) Fixed Price. 

Time & Materials: 

In California it is illegal to perform home improvement work on a time and materials basis. That means that a contractor is in violation of state laws if they charge you by the hour for work performed. 


The reason has to do with the protection of homeowners. Consumer Protection laws have been enacted to ensure the price of a project doesn’t just keep escalating, that a finish date is established, and that homeowners are aware of what the work will cost and when they will be required to pay.

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How then should a contractor price their work? 

Fixed Price:

First off, what exactly is a “Fixed Price”. Just as the name suggests it is a pre-agreed upon price for services performed. Essentially your contractor should have the knowledge and experience to take a look at what you need done and develop a cost based upon that. There really should be no need for time and materials pricing.

What is the benefit?

With a fixed price the cost to perform the work needed is easy to understand and you always know what the costs are before the work begins. Unlike time and materials, where you can end up owing more than you expected. 

Another advantage to a fixed price is there is no need to keep an eye on the clock. Many times a contractor may have to answer a phone call, deal with an email, and take a trip to a supply house for materials. When you have an agreed upon “Fixed Price”, then you don’t need to worry about “wasted” or “extra” time that the project took. It becomes the contractors responsibility to be efficient and operate in a timely manner. 

The key word is Transparency. When both parties enter a contract knowing exactly what the costs are, how long the work should take, what is covered, and what is involved, it leads to a much better working relationship. This is why Switched Electric always gives a fixed price prior to performing any work. You will always know what exactly what our services will cost. 

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