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Doing Electrical Work for Your Home Remodel: An Interview with Mike Short of AC Electric

By Mike Short

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

AC Electric was born as an electrical contracting company in Austin on August 1, 1984. AC stands for "Alternating Current"-not to be confused with "Air Conditioning," which we DO NOT do. What we DO offer is quality electrical services for residential and commercial (even some industrial) applications. Some of the services we offer are electrical panel upgrades or replacements, rewiring for remodels, wiring for new construction, hot tub installations, electric vehicle charger installations, aluminum wiring repairs (using the Copalum process or full rewires). Of course, we do all the usual repairs and installations as well, including recessed can lights and smoke detectors.

What are a few of the most common electric upgrades that homeowners need to make during a renovation project?

Common electrical upgrades will include an inspection first to determine the safety and condition of their overall wiring system. Upgrades can be as complex as completely rewiring the house to replace very old or aluminum wiring; upgrading outdated or damaged electrical panels; panel upgrades to add needed amperage; changing out their current devices (outlets and switches) for updated versions that are up to current code (Decora style is very popular just now); changing out light fixtures for newer, sometimes safer versions; adding smoke detectors where code recommends.

When is usually the best time to do electrical work on a home/room that's being remodeled?

Best time is before moving in, if possible. If that is not possible, it must simply be coordinated with the remodeling contractor to be done in the best order to complete the job efficiently.

Are there any special permits for electrical changes that are necessary in your area?

Panel upgrades always require a permit and coordination with the electrical service providers. Repairs and remodels are sometimes permitted, depending on the extent of the work. Check with your contractor to be sure- un-permitted work can incur a hefty fine. AC Electric is licensed by the State of Texas and the City of Austin and complies with permitting requirements. General Building Permits can be taken out by the homeowner, but electrical permits can only be taken out by licensed electrical contractors. Required inspections follow that determine code compliance.

What is one of the biggest challenges with electrical service that comes up during a home remodel/renovation?

Biggest challenges would be changes made after the work has been begun or even completed. A lot of jobs double in price due to changes made after the work has begun. Knowing what you want before you begin a project will keep costs and time within expectations. When a job proposal is made, we attempt to foresee the full scope of the work and a reasonable estimate of the time needed. We certainly don't mind homeowners making changes, but it can add significantly to the time needed which adds to their cost.

Do you have any tips for homeowners about remodeling and getting electrical work done?

Do your homework. If possible, know what you need or what the options are for what you want to accomplish. There is unlimited information on the internet, and we encourage homeowners to be informed. We offer a lot of that free information on our website, acelectricaustin.com. Another suggestion is to watch our technicians all you want to, but let them focus on what they are doing so they can complete the work safely and efficiently, to your benefit. Also, get other estimates for doing the work, but remember that the lowest bid is not always the best-an unlicensed electrician can do a world of damage with unsafe wiring- costing you more when it has to be re-done at some future point. So-check out the licensing and insurance of the contractors you choose. You have protection with those things in place. Last tip: be considerate of the contractor's time and save non-emergency phone calls for during business hours.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

AC Electric can be contacted most easily by calling us at 512-444-9700, or via email at acelec@gmail.com. There is also a "contact us" link on our website at acelectricaustin.com. We are usually found on any search engine focused on the Austin area: Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, MSN, and local directories. AC Electric is also a long-time Angie's List contractor with many reviews from our customers. OR-ask your neighbors-there is a good chance that we have done some electrical work for them in the past.

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