Cable Labor Estimate Standard - Ceiling Runs

By: Brian Rhodes, Published on Nov 25, 2014

Running cabling is routinely one of the biggest costs on a new project, and being able to estimate basic costs is an important first step for end users and installers alike.

In the second entry from our IPVM Install Labor Estimate Standard, we focus on the most common and time consuming aspects for running new cable.

Two Common Scenarios

We asked survey takers to give us their typical installation manpower estimate for 50 feet of new cable run overhead, providing an image and text description:

Low Tile Grid Ceiling: "This location has no existing raceways or hooks, with no access from attic space above. How many hours would you estimate to run cabling in a 50' (~15m) length of the acoustic tile/drop grid, 9 foot high ceiling type below? Why?" 

High Hard Panel Ceiling: "This location has no existing raceways or hooks, with ample access from attic space above. How many hours would you estimate to run cabling in a 50' (~15m) length of the solid panel, drywall sheathed 12 foot high ceiling type below? Why?"

Inside, we provide estimates and color commentary on the key factors impacting those estimates.

Low **** **** *******

"**** ******** *** ** existing ******** ** *****, with ** ****** **** attic ***** *****. *** many************* *** ******** ** run ******* ** * 50' (~***) ****** ** the ******** ****/**** ****, 9 **** **** ******* type *****? ***?" 

**** ******* *********** **** question ** ********** *** environment:

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* ** 2.0 ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****: 

************ ** ***** *****/*******: Biggest **** ********

** *** *** ******* any ******* ********* *** methods ** ************ ** installing * *** ** cable, ******* ******* ******* like **** ************, ** cable ******* ******* ** be *********** ** *** responder. ** *******, *** biggest ****** ******* ***** and **** ******* *********** ********* ** ******* above *****. 

** ******* *****, *** addition ** ********** ******* or ***** ******* *** estimate:

  • "******* ***** **** ******* drop ******* ***** **** approximate * *****. *** most **** **** ** for ****************** **** ****** *** of **** *******. **** time *** *** **** issues ***** *** **** work *** ***** ********** structure ***** ******* *** cable."
  • "*.* *****. *. **** ceiling *****, *. ***** J-hooks ** ***** ***** management, *. *** **** string, *. **** *****, e. **** ***** **********, f. ******* ***** & clean **."
  • "** *** ** **' in * **** **** ladders *** ******** ***** trays, *** ** ***** easily **** * ***** if ** ******* **** new."
  • "**** ******** ******..**** ** tricky *** ******** ***** run *** ******* ** inside ******* ******** **** are ********** **** **** back *** **** *** hallway. ** *** * would ******* ******* ******* Panduit *** ******** *** dry ********* *** **** snap ** ****. * usually *** ***** ******** glue ** *** ****** face **** ** * precaution ** **** ******* wire...been ****** **** ** re-glue ******* ***** **** does *** ********** ** ****."
  • "*.* *** *****. **** provide "*** ****" ***** and *" ***** ** pencil **** ***** *'."
  • "**** **** ********** * usually ***** ******** ** ft *** ****. ** existing ******* ** ***** 100 ** *** ****."

******* *** ****** ****

*******, ******* ********** ***** they ******* ****** **** by ****** **** **** tiles. ** **** *****, this ******** ** *** permitted ** **** *** can ** *** ****** of ****** ** * safety ******, *** ** general ***** ********** ************ without ******* ********* ******* times:

  • "*.* **** ** *** as ***** **** ** drop ******* *** *******. Cable *** *** ** grid ** ******** *** no ******* **** **."
  • "*** **** ** * am ***** ***** ** put ** *** ***** in ** ***. ** my **********, **** ****** just *** *** * cable ** *** **** it ** ***** ** possible. * **** *** ceiling **** **** ***** and **** ***** ****."
  • "** **** **** * man **** ********** ** you *** **** ***** cables ****** ** *** dropped ******* *** *** to *** **** ** some **** ** ***** canal."
  • "*.************ ** *** ******* cables ******** ** *** shortest ****.  ** **** take **** **** ** run ** ******* *****."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **' ******* *** ***** * grid *******.

High **** ***** *******

**** ******** *** ** existing ******** ** *****, with ***** ****** **** attic ***** *****. *** many************* *** ******** ** run ******* ** * 50' (~***) ****** ** the ***** *****, ******* sheathed ** **** **** ceiling **** *****? ***?

*******: **** **% ** *** responses **** ******* *.* ** 3.0 ********. *** **** ****** is ***** *****:

*** ****** ******** *** answered **** **** ********* across *** *****, **** 30% ** *** ******* outright ****** * ***** rather **** * ****** value. ** **** *****, the *********** ********** **** a ******** ******** ******* actually ***** **** ** see *** **** *********:

****** ** *********

  • "*'** **** ******** ** attic ***** ** ** without ******* ***** * honestly **** **** ***. "
  • "******** * ***** *** would ****** ** **** the ***** ***** ****** like *** *** ** gain ****** ********** ******* firewalls."
  • "* ***** ******** * hours. **** ****** *** attic *** ***** ****** space, ** *** **** time ** ** ******** about ******* ***** ** the ***** **** *** first ****, ***** ** little ** ** *********** with *******."
  • "* ***** ******** ******** changing ** ** * total *** *****, ********* on *** **** *** site ** ** ******."
  • "** **** ** *** what's ** ***** ****** giving * ******. *****'* just *** **** ********* obstacles ****** *****."

***** ****** *********

**** ******* **** ********* the ***** ******** ** subject ** *** **** access ****** ***** ***** to **. ** *******, the ********** ****** ** a **** ******* ***** estimates ****** **** * grid **** ***** ** the **** ******:

  • "* ****, ** *** sure *** **** ****** from *****"
  • "* *** * ***** each - ******* ******* attic ***** ****** **** tile"
  • "* **** ** *** cable *******. ***** **** depending ** ****** ******* ** ****** *** tech ** **** ***** ceiling ** **** *** up ******* ***** ** fish ***** ******. **** depends ** ************ ** the ***** ** ** the **** ***** *** attic ***** ** *******. (e.g. ****** **** ** junk)"
  • "********* *** ******* ** cumbersome, *** **** ** there, *** ***** *** should ** ****** *****."
  • "****. * **********. **** easy **** ******, ***** would ** *** **** quickly *** ***********."

*** ******* ** *** answers ** *.** ******** *** **' ** ***** *** ***** * hard/ ******* ******** *******.

Longer ******* *****

** ************ ***** *** survey **** ** ******** 50 **** ****, *** the ******* *** **** typically ***** *** ****** continuous *******.  *** *******, running *** **** ** cable ** * ****/**** ceiling ****** ********* ** ladder *** ** ********* at *.* - *.**********.

*** ********* ** **** scaling ***** ********* *** when ************ **** ********* or ***** ******** ********** obstructions **** ******** *** up. *** ** **** estimates *** ***** ** a '*****' *** **** no **** ************

Comments (1)

-Low Voltage License Holder-

Cable companies usually price this per "drop" (ie cable). They generally don't break it out into man-hours.

With materials and labor in a drop ceiling, in relaxed jurisdictions, it's about $150 per "drop". This is also considering there are several "drops" being installed at once. If a single drop is ordered, it is going to cost alot more for a guy to show up in his van, walk it over with the local contact, unload his stuff, make two trips up the service elevator, do the work, clean up the ceiling dust, wait 20 minutes for the local contact to sign his work order, then pack up and leave. That single drop is going to be more like $700.

Back to jurisdictions, some places like Chicago require conduit, even for low voltage. Other considerations are whether or not the work must take place after-hours. There is usually a higher rate for this.

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