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Home Theater Installation Charge?

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9 replies to this topic

#1 of 10 OFFLINE   Jeff Weight

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Posted March 06 2006 - 08:02 AM

Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this thread.

I’ve been asked to install a home theater in the home of one of my parent’s friends. The home owners are only acquaintances to me, and have agreed to pay me for my time.

So how much should I charge them an hour, what is a fair rate? I realize I’m not a professional installer, but I have run wire and hooked up 7 home theaters. Obviously I don’t want to overcharge them, as I’d like them to refer me to others. Part of this job includes making equipment recommendations, purchasing all the wire & incidentals, and programming a universal remote control. I don’t want to charge a flat rate as I know I will have to continually educate them on how the system works, and correct any snafu’s they cause.

Your advice and suggestions are appreciated.



#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Tom McGary

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Posted March 06 2006 - 09:27 AM

maybe my story can give you some guidelines...

I installed a modest HT for friends of my parents. Didnt really know them at all myself. So I set a 'flate rate' price in my head of what I thought would be a fair number that they wouldnt balk (bawk?) at and make my parents look bad. I think my total hours were under 10; this included, like you, recommendation on consumer audio and video products, running cabling and hooking everything up, and educational session: basic room acoustics (some installation of bass traps and bookshelves with books to act as a rear diffuser) and remote control 101. I charged them $200...which comes out to $20/hour which was much more I made at my mall job at the time Posted Image . They didnt seem to flinch at the price and everyone walked away happy. If you are going to be doing anything more skilled (framing out walls, more detailed acoustic treatments) you could ask for more.

So to summarize, guess-timate how many hours you will work and then think of a flate rate number that wouldnt make them cringe and use that to devise your hourly...hope that helps...

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   RickRO


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Posted March 06 2006 - 12:06 PM

This is just me but I would charge a per hour fee plus any costs to you out of pocket. All professionals charge a "per hour" fee for services from a car mechanic to a lawyer.

I don't think that 20.00 an hour is unreasonable and if anything might be on the shy side, maybe 25.00 or 30.00???

Since you are counting on having to go back and "re-educate" them I would also tell them that your "fee" for service related calls are XX amount of dollars 25-50 or so to cover your time, gas, etc. etc. for coming back to their place.

I would have a written contract with them to just cover all the bases and to protect you if they should by happen stance not "pony up the dough" and also that it is in writing what EXACTLY your services cover.

Hope this helps

"The only good bug, is a dead bug." ~ Starship Troopers

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Dave Poehlman

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Posted March 07 2006 - 05:27 AM

Gee... all I got for hooking up my friend's HT was a few imported beers.

I think I'll send him a bill. Posted Image

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Jeff Weight

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Posted March 07 2006 - 05:36 AM

Best Buy charges $600 for a basic setup & $100 an hour after the basics. Local installers charge $250 to show up and $75 to $150 an hour after that.

I've decided to charge them $40 an hour + parts at cost. I feel this is fair.

If Dave's willing to do it for beer, so be it. As I don't drink beer, I'd much rather spend the time with my family if I'm not getting paid.

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   RickRO


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Posted March 07 2006 - 11:47 AM

Gee... all I got for hooking up my friend's HT was a few imported beers.

That what I usually charge for my moving services....if I were doing something more complicated like a HT install I would like the cash.Posted Image
"The only good bug, is a dead bug." ~ Starship Troopers

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Bryan Michael

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Posted March 07 2006 - 02:49 PM

i will have to say it would have take me like 10-20 hours ot do the install and help them with gear. dont for get to calabrate the sound usaly i tweak for about 30 min and video is like a hour. kust to wire my rack it took me 2 hours and this is the 5th time i have re did my rack. what i would do is if they need your help i would offer up a free help for at least the forst time.
there are olny 2 types of people in the world the irish and thoes who want to be irish

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Chris Tsutsui

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Posted March 08 2006 - 12:37 PM

One thing to be careful for is professionals often have more than one person working, therefore it takes them less time, plus they do it ALL THE TIME.

If you are the only one working, then it might take you 10 hours @ $40 an hour.

While a crew of 2 professionals can do the same job in 2 hours at $100 an hour.

Hopefully it's a simple job and won't require you not having the right tools or materials for the install.

If it seems like too much work for too little pay, it's always ok to say "no". This will actually feel good if you get too many friends/family asking you for favors... lol

Just be wary that if they ever have problems they will probably call you on the phone.

Also, get a written estimate that has a bid that's "higher" than what you think, perhaps with some contingency added. Then at the end of the job, if everything went smoother than you thought you can save them money. A client will never complain about saving money, but will complain if you take more time than you said.

Let me just say that I've had my fair share of BURNS in the industry.

You could also give them a 1 year warranty on "installation", not covering anything else. This way return visits can earn you more side money. You may not expect to have to "return" visit, but some people are just hopeless.

I've had a guy "cut" wires and then say they arn't getting sound anymore... I told him that the wires are "CUT"... This was not covered in the warranty...

I also got into an argument about the safety of speaker spikes with children hurting themselves in the event a speaker falls over and they impale themselves on the spike somehow.


#9 of 10 OFFLINE   David Noll

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Posted March 09 2006 - 06:56 AM

The going rate in my area is $30/hour for the "boss" and $20/hour for the secondary laborers.

That is why I did most of my theater construction myself. I estimated I saved about $15,000 to $20,000 on my project!


#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Robert JW

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Posted March 10 2006 - 06:46 AM

I agree. anything to add more money/income to the future. I also give a 90 day come-back visit in case they need assistance.

1 year on install. where within the last month, i come back, double checked everything, and offer an extended 1 year for a fixed amount, ie. $50.

at least covers fuel and tool cost to come check everything out.