Am I doing this wrong?

Eric

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So I setup a camera system for a buddy of mine as a favor for him. I made a whopping $400 for running a dozen IP cameras at his restaurant with drop ceiling. Nothing super fancy.

Well now a retail store in his shopping center wants me to do a camera install for them. 16 cameras total for this one. I quoted them $4,800 for a 16 channel NVR, 16 - 4MP IP cameras, and 2 10TB Western Digital purples and labor. They must of liked it because this retail store has a second store across town and they want me to do it as well.

Are my rates that low that people are just jumping all over it or am I just getting people suckered into high rates? What does a typical 16 camera install look like price-wise?
 

concord

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You didn't mention what brand and model of NVR and cams, how much CAT5e/6 (UTP, CMR, Riser Rated ) cable you will need, etc. You may get more responses if you specify.

Note that may need to follow building code regulations for your location also.
 

SouthernYankee

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Depending on the building codes, and the town, state you live in you could be in big trouble. You are running wire and are not a certified licensed electrician. You also may need a fire inspector to verify the work. The person that owns the restaurant may have invalidated his insurance. Over all not smart.
 

David L

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Yeah be aware of Plenum spaces (plenum cable will be needed) and check code if you penetrate Fire Walls what fire stop caulking is required, these are very important in building codes...If there is a future fire they could come back to you if the cabling is not up to code. Stay away from running over/around lighting (especially florescent with ballast), do not run over water piping, especially sprinkler heads, these are to just name a few. Just some more code from where I am from, your equip. cannot block electrical panels and have to be 3 feet from them. I am with SouthernYankee, you are taking quite a risk. Hope Fire Marshall or Osha does not show up while you are running your cable.
 

mat200

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So I setup a camera system for a buddy of mine as a favor for him. I made a whopping $400 for running a dozen IP cameras at his restaurant with drop ceiling. Nothing super fancy.

Well now a retail store in his shopping center wants me to do a camera install for them. 16 cameras total for this one. I quoted them $4,800 for a 16 channel NVR, 16 - 4MP IP cameras, and 2 10TB Western Digital purples and labor. They must of liked it because this retail store has a second store across town and they want me to do it as well.

Are my rates that low that people are just jumping all over it or am I just getting people suckered into high rates? What does a typical 16 camera install look like price-wise?
Hi @Eric

You're doing something right, that's good news.

Keep it up, and figure out how to do this even better.
 

David L

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Hi @Eric

You're doing something right, that's good news.

Keep it up, and figure out how to do this even better.
@Eric, yeah I did not post to discourage you, just to warn you. Since you did it for a friend, your friend is liable too. I am sure you did a great job, it is just much different when doing commercial work, a lot of rules...A lot of people do not realize that the reason wiring companies charge what they do is to cover liability cost and overhead.
I sent a worker with a WetVac to a Mechanical Room in a 10 story building we were wiring to vacuum up the dust/concrete from a 4 inch core hole we drilled. The young guy flipped the wrong switch on the Vac causing it to blow out which set off the smoke alarms and brought out the Fire Dept./Engines. That cost our company $10k for the false alarm. Funny but the guy vacuuming did not know what was happening since it was all blowing behind him and the guy with him was trying to get to him to turn it off but told us the room filled up so fast that he could not even see him and yelling at him did no good since he could not hear being bent down next to the loud Vac. Haha, can laugh now about it, wish I could of got that on video LOL
 

Eric

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Depending on the building codes, and the town, state you live in you could be in big trouble. You are running wire and are not a certified licensed electrician. You also may need a fire inspector to verify the work. The person that owns the restaurant may have invalidated his insurance. Over all not smart.
Yeah be aware of Plenum spaces (plenum cable will be needed) and check code if you penetrate Fire Walls what fire stop caulking is required, these are very important in building codes...If there is a future fire they could come back to you if the cabling is not up to code. Stay away from running over/around lighting (especially florescent with ballast), do not run over water piping, especially sprinkler heads, these are to just name a few. Just some more code from where I am from, your equip. cannot block electrical panels and have to be 3 feet from them. I am with SouthernYankee, you are taking quite a risk. Hope Fire Marshall or Osha does not show up while you are running your cable.
Well this is unfortunate, I guess I should stop while I'm ahead and not mess with the two retail stores then.

I do have an LLC as my work is typically on the computer side of things for small businesses and residential - security cameras are new.

For the job that has been done already, the old cameras was removed along with their old cables and replaced with ethernet cables. I'm not sure how or even if that matters that "new runs" wasn't made but only existing lines replaced. That might be splitting hairs.

Just based on my background in computers I know electric wires and such don't usually play well with ethernet so electric wires and lights were avoided entirely.

You didn't mention what brand and model of NVR and cams, how much CAT5e/6 (UTP, CMR, Riser Rated ) cable you will need, etc. You may get more responses if you specify.

Note that may need to follow building code regulations for your location also.
Uniview nvr and cams were used and a couple hundred feet total of CAT5e UTP CMR riser rated cable used (Monoprice Cat5e Ethernet Bulk Cable - Solid, 350MHz, UTP, CMR, Riser Rated, Pure Bare Copper, 24AWG, 1000ft, Orange, ReelexII (UL)(TAA) - Monoprice.com).
 

th182

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I've helped a few friends wire their home cameras. One wanted me to help his brother's business set up cameras. I dropped off the box of Ethernet and suggested camera locations. His guys ran the cable and mounted the camera bases. I came by after and just plugged in the cameras and configured them. He then told another guy in the same line of work whos company reached out to me for their buildings. Helping a friend at home is one thing but I wouldn't be comfortable doing it for a business that I don't even know. Especially the running cable part. I'd need a license for that.


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SouthernYankee

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I am not the IRS. But I have run a number of Small LLCs and one more or less mid size one. I have been sued, the sad part is it cost more to defend your self than to settle. Been audited by the IRS, did not lose that one, but again costed to defend one self. If it can go wrong it will, cover your ASS going in big time.
 

David L

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I am not the IRS. But I have run a number of Small LLCs and one more or less mid size one. I have been sued, the sad part is it cost more to defend your self than to settle. Been audited by the IRS, did not lose that one, but again costed to defend one self. If it can go wrong it will, cover your ASS going in big time.
Funny but you reminded me of a company that we use to always say CYA when we left someone on a job. (COVER YOUR ASS) LOL
 
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Eric

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Just got off the phone with the Commercial building inspector for the city. He has confirmed I'm perfectly fine as there are zero requirements for permits or licenses for installing low voltage cable.

I feel 100% better as I was really worried about it last night after reading the comments here.

I also called a couple camera installers here to dig and get some info... seems I'm about more than half the price of what some of the other local guys are charging - which would explain why suddenly I'm getting a number of requests. Sounds like I'm way under pricing myself. :-\
 

mat200

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Hi @Eric

I want to encourage you to continue your research and make a decent business if you like this work.

For many of us here, we're more hobbyists than business people with this.
 
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Eric

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For many of us here, we more hobbyists than business people with this.
Honestly I feel I'm the same way. I enjoy playing with the tech and my day job is in the computer world working in AWS, O365, and VMware etc. I've always done side gigs working on PCs and servers for small businesses here and there and was all done word of mouth. This first camera install gig was done because a very good friend owns the business. The others, which I haven't done, call came from his recommendations.

I don't see this blowing up to a full time business or even much more after these other installs (should I do them). I was more curious as to why the sudden interest just based on my quotes... know I know why. Regardless the first install has been fun and hopefully i get the next two and make a few bucks and call it a good run. :D
 

samplenhold

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All legalities and issues aside, just doing the math on 16 cams for $4800 works out to about $300 per cam. But that is including the NVR, disk, and cable plus install. I don't really see how you are making any money here. The 10TB WD purple is $250, that's $500 just for the drives. Then NVR is what, $300? That is $800 which leaves $4000 for 16 cams plus labor and cable. Now you are down to $250 per cam.

If you are going with say the T5442TM-AS at about $155 per cam, that is only giving you $95 install cost. I f you are using say the T2231T-ZS-S2 at about $125 per cam, that gives you about $125 install cost. If it takes you two hours to run cables and install each cam, you are getting about $63 per hour. Plus you have to include the time to set each cam up in the NVR and adjust it's settings both day and night. I think you really need to charge more.

Also realize that Andy just posted that due to chips cost increasing, he will have to increase the prices of his cams 7-15%.
 
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