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Question DetailsAsked on 3/9/2016

Approx cost to run electricity from fairly new house to detached garage.

House and garage are both 2 years old and when contractor built house, he was supposed to run electricity from house to detached garage but never did, so I need an approximate estimate as to how much it would cost to do. I live in Spicewood (Travis County), TX. Thanks!

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3 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Have you talked to the contractor - even though late, if he is honest and it was in the original scope of work he will do it - if not for free, maybe cheaper than normal anyway.

Here is a previous similar question with answer, about running power for just a garage door opener.

In your case, sounds like you are talking maybe lights and outlets as well, so need a supplementary breaker box and some circuit running as well. Obviously, you need to get bids from several electrical contractors for this.

Depending on how much power you need out there (large power tools, welder or compressor, electric heater, etc ?) and of course on whether your existing system has the excess capacity to provide that extra power, the prior answer would likely give you a single-point service - light and outlet right where it comes into the garage.

For more normal coverage of lights and outlets throughout the garage likely more like in the $1000-1200 range if bare studs, $1500-2000 probably if have to cut through drywall to run the wiring (including subsequent drywall repair and repainting).

A major power center for large power tools and such or for high wattage electric heat might run up to about 50-100% more, assuming the existing power to your house is adeqaute for the added load. Upgrading your household service, if needed, can run from an additional $500-1000 ballpark on up to thousands depending on what needs upgrading, and on how much the power company does for free.

In cases with long service drops to your house and a dedicated transformer that needs capacity upgrading I have seen it in the tens of thousands with utility companies that do nothing for free, but others do it for free assuming they will get the money back in added power usage fees, so you need to get a whole-package estimate before proceeding - or scale back you job to what is feasible for you.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


So, based on your response here are my exact needs and what the existing structure is like:

(1) It is a two-car garage, no drywall inside

(2) The current breaker box does have breakers for garage electricity and can handle

(3) Wiring would need to be tied into that of the house

(4) Would need it to power a garage door opener, a couple of lights and a few outlets that would be used for powering small hand tools (sander, etc., but nothing huge), small appliances (fan, small personal fridge)


~Jo Ann

Answered 4 years ago by Guest_9794150


And one last thing, I cannot get the current general contractor to come in to get it done since we are in the process of suing him for faulty work, inferior work, substandard work, and incomplete work.

Answered 4 years ago by Guest_9794150


OK - then obviously this would be one of the items on the undone work list that would be included in the suit. Be sure in figuring the suit damages amount to use actual numbers either from a professional construction cost estimator (commonly work for Architect or engineering firm) or actual bids from contractors, not ballpark numbers like these.

For what you are looking for, a small breaker subpanel in the garage, tapping off a larger breaker in the main breaker box, would probably do it. For instance, a 30-50A breaker in the house, feeding to a box with maybe 3-4 15-20A circuits in the garage probably - your electrician can size the system based on what uses you plan.

Since you might be running a portable electric heater or such at times, you might run one outlet circuit for that sort of use, one for miscellaneous power tools (it is common to stagger outlets in a garage on the two circuits, so no two adjacent outlets are on the same circuit). Then one for the opener - though it can generally be run off the lighting circuit if you don't get too carried away with the number or size of lights. Then maybe an outdoor outlet off the garage for yard work or parties or such, if desired.

Each of these (or maybe just the main breaker in the house panel) would be a GFCI breaker.

Other demands you should consider in having this scoped out (possible increases over what you plan now) - if you have a well or irrigation pump you might want to power from there, if there is a need for an auto block heater or hybrid/electric car outlet outside or inside the garage (which needs a separate circuit from the rest of the garage, and normally 220/240V if a purely electric car plug-in), and if there is any chance you will ultimately put a furnace or unit heater in there it would normally be on a separate circuit too. And don't forget any desired outdoor lighting off the garage, and possibly an outside yard work utility outlet.

It costs very little more (maybe $100-150) to put in an 8-10 breaker capacity panel (not all slots need circuit wiring or breaker initially) and a higher capacity feed from the house to accomodate possible future demand if you do it now. Bear in mind that doubling the capacity (provided you do not exceed the existing in-house panel load capacity) is FARRR less than double th cost - doubling capacity panel-to-panel commonly more like 10 or maybe 15% increase in total installed cost.

Of course, if looking at block heater or electric car plug-in, or if there is ever a chance of using a 220V power tool (including full-size welder or air compressor) or putting in serious electric heat, you want to run 220V to the garage, not 110V - both to provide 220V power source for the higher demand items and also so the load can be balanced between the two sides of the existing panel in the house. Running a hefty capacity (maybe 100A capacity) 220/240V feed to the garage also helps a bit come resale time - having the higher capacity wiring in, even if you don't use it yourself and your main breaker for it is smaller now, could be a selling point to someone looking at using the garage as a workshop because then they would just increase breaker size and add circuits in the garage, not have to install new feed from house to garage to accomplish it.

Possible cost-saving measures - if you can dig the ditch for the cable run - typically 1-3 feet deep by code (less than 3' generally requires PVC conduit be used) that would reduce cost - or consider if you can accept (from overhead vehicle clearance standpoint, kid safety, and appearance) an overhead run to garage, though that is not much cheaper than underground and near comparable if you dig the ditch yourself.

Get several bids for the work - and I would get them in two parts - one for the basic service that was required in the contract, then the second part as an option to upgrade as desired. That way you have several bids PROVING what the cost to do the omitted work the original builder was supposed to do was. Good idea if you have other work done that the original builder was supposed to do too - base case in the bid to match original work scope, then second optional part to upgrade to anything more or fancier you want now.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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