Outsourcing

Why most IT consultants should not run cabling

IT consultants usually want to say yes to all client requests, but some challenges, such as running cable, are better left to qualified professionals with specialized skills.

 Clients develop new ways of challenging IT consultants every year. My consulting firm has been asked to install and configure VoIP phone systems; we've been charged with physically moving server racks and equipment between facilities; I've even found myself installing and terminating Ethernet cabling in new buildings. But just because IT consultants are asked to complete ancillary projects doesn't mean they should.

It's a hard lesson to learn. Not many IT consultants want to tell a client no, even when the client requests services outside the consultant's area of expertise. Not all consultancies specialize in building Web sites, developing proprietary applications, installing or configuring VoIP systems, moving server rooms, installing associated electrical and HVAC systems, or running cabling; however, many consultancies are still tempted to say, "yes, we can do that for you" in response to almost any client request.

Do what you do

The trouble is many of the ancillary tasks clients request require specialized skills and expertise. Cabling is a perfect example. While a well-meaning consultant might agree to run three or four new cable drops for a long-time client to save delays and the hassle of identifying a qualified cable installer, such favors can prove troublesome. I know because I've run my share of cabling.

Some cabling adventures remind me of lessons I learned from installing drywall myself during a home remodel. Hanging four or five sheets of drywall took me an entire Saturday. First I had to get the drywall from the home improvement warehouse to my home, and I didn't have the right truck, which complicated the effort. Then I struggled to maneuver the drywall, hang it in place, and secure it properly. Taping and mudding consumed another day. Later I watched a home improvement show in which professional drywall installers completed the same work in approximately one hour.

The lesson is simple: Different professions require different skills, tools, and expertise. That's why I don't think most IT consultants should install cabling. IT consultants who are used to wearing business dress clothing and not to carrying a toolbox are probably not well suited to hefting rolls of cabling up stairs, running plenum-grade wiring in tight spaces, or fishing Ethernet through finished walls. It's a dirty job that requires specialized tools and a solid understanding of industry standards and even building codes.

Establish a value-added partnership

This doesn't mean that you need to leave clients who require cabling assistance out in the cold. Instead, consider establishing a tight partnership with a cabling contractor. By working closely with a qualified contractor, your office can assist clients in addressing all their cabling needs, going so far as to serve as the centralized contact and invoicing party. If you cut a fair deal with the contractor, you can even make some extra money in the process.

Have you ever run cabling for any of your clients? What other ancillary projects or dirty jobs have you worked on for clients? Do you partner with contractors for any type of work that falls outside your area of expertise? Let us know in the discussion.

Get weekly consulting tips in your inbox TechRepublic's IT Consultant newsletter, delivered each Monday, offers tips on how to attract customers, build your business, and increase your technical skills in order to get the job done. Automatically sign up today!

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

73 comments
bkindle
bkindle

I have ran cable regularly now at my last two IT jobs. Matter of fact, I just finished moving POTS to T1 lines this week for my company at some stores we operate. I sort of a consultant at my last job before and ran cable regularly. The way I learned most of what I know was by studying how jobs looked after they were done by the pros and or other contractors/consultants. I have also seen 'electrical contractors' run data cable and do a really messy, poor quality job more often that I care to discuss. So as a rule, I always try to talk my current employer (a non-profit) out of letting contractors do this kind of work and instead keep our data/voice/video cable jobs in house.

jymkch
jymkch

I used to work in construction for quite some years then as a electrician and also run lines for data and telephone. After becoming and IT professional, is just really hard to say no the client, specially if you are just starting in this line of business and I took some jobs where i had to even do some basic electrical and run multiple data lines but one have to be very careful specially if you dont have the required licenses. But it consumes much of your time and it definitely pays more and saves you time and energy to concentrate in networking and leave the cabling to a licensed professional...I work with a guy that I used to work with before, he is licensed and every time i get client requiring this kind of service, i say yes we will do it and subcontract my friend, that way he gets a job and a potential future client and I have a happy client.

bqeted
bqeted

As a cable guy I totally agree we should all stick to our own level of expertise. Even with over 18 years of experience I have still run into what seems insurmountable problems but we do come up with an answer that complies with all requirements.Ive seen a lot of IT installs they usually work but I wonder how and I hope to hell I dont have to troubleshoot the cable problem.

jefferyp2100
jefferyp2100

Focus on your core business, not on trying to solve every need a client may have. The only reason to attempt something like this is if you plan to be making it part of your core business. Carefully consider whether these "one-off" type engagements are a good investment in your time.

moabrunner
moabrunner

I do consulting in Utah and it has been difficult to find a competent cable installer. I have one client that just has me buy boxes of cable, they run the cables then I test and terminate the cables. That works out really well, and I just bill them by the foot and bill them for the cable ends and any patch panels or 66 blocks involved. Other clients if it is one or 2 simple runs, I don't mind I have the tools, but if it is more than a couple I will try to find a cable installer to at least run them, even if they won't test and terminate them. Yes here in Utah there are cable installers that will run it but not test and terminate it.

oldjags
oldjags

Cabling jobs can be a good source of new business, even if you ultimately sub it out to a qualified cabling company. A cabling job often means new PCs, new servers, etc., and it's a good excuse to get in front of the customer and review all their processes and procedures to see what needs updating. Any time there is change going on is a good time to get your foot in the door. They may not be totally happy with their current IT provider and be willing to talk to someone else who can do it better. Cabling is a one-time job, but it can lead to a long-term support relationship, so don't walk away from it just because you don't actually do the cabling yourself. If you advertise yourself as a full-service support company, then cabling is part of that. Just find a good cabling subcontractor to work with, and you can make a small profit on the job, and use the relationship you've built with the customer to generate business once the cabling is done. Cabling companies also don't do IT stuff, so you'll often get them referring business back to you from their other clients.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

My manager is one of those, "I want it done now and I want it done cheaply" people and so we found ourselves installing cable in a 200 year old warehouse turned into an office space by my company. When we got there we found out that we could not run cable across the cieling because the landlord didn't want the ceramic cieling tiles removed. So we had to drill holes through the wood, brick and concrete floor, crawl under the building and cable it that way. Three weeks later all of it is still not done. On top of that I had to get my REAL work done. Needless to say, I still have work backed up from three days of wasting my precious time. At my previous place of employment, I always had a cabling contractor on speed dial. Don't get me wrong, I don't think I'm "above" running cable, it's just that my time and energies are better spent doing the job they hired me for. My boss let his bad experience with one cabling contractor cloud his judgement. In this business everyone knows a contractor they can trust. A licensed, professional outfit would have done that job in a couple of days. We really didn't save any money either. We had to hire a couple of extra bodies to help us run cable and we had to buy the material. In addition, we were unable to serve our business "customers" while we were crawling under buildings and fishing cable through walls.

cloudnavigator
cloudnavigator

When I started working with PC LANs in the mid-1980s you had to run your own cabling. There were no cabling standards and the electricians and phone guys had no idea how to do it right. I remember one phone installer tell me that "a pair is a pair" after I pointed out to him the proper termination of pairs for Ethernet over UTP. To make matters worse, every vendor had their own preferred cabling system. IBM called theirs the IBM Cabling System. It wasn't until SynOptics demonstrated that you could run Ethernet over UTP cable in 1988(?) that things began to change for the better. By the early 1990s structured voice and data wiring systems based on EIA/TIA specifications began to take hold and everything converged on using UTP cable. With the arrival of 100Mb and 1000Mb Ethernet cable installation and testing required both knowledge and the proper tools to test and certify. I hung up my 110 punch-down tool in the mid-1990s. It only comes out on an emergency basis. If I have a project that requires wireless, fiber-optic or high-performance (CAT5e/CAT6) cabling, I call one my colleagues who do this for a living. Can't say that I miss it either.

vgr
vgr

I'm astonished. We have been running a 7 years old IT services company, and from day 0 we didn't want to take cabling projects. Cabling requires skills that are not so alike with other IT skills, like system administration, app managemente and IT support. In fact if you check most IT services methodology frames, cabling is not found as a key issue. So, why is that? Have you heard about cable management?. No kidding, there is whole discipline about cabling. So if you want to have it done right in the first place, don't try to do it yourself.

reisen55
reisen55

I prefer a certified electrical contractor to run cables whenever possible. The real plus beyond having the job done RIGHT is you can make a co-networking contact. Give him your business cards and hand out his cards. Works for me. Secondly, I run cables only short distances or if I have to do external runs or ceiling runs. This is ugly but it works well, so I limit the amount of damage I can do.

paul
paul

There comes a time when it shows that some consultants experience is potentially limited in that they infer that they should not install cabling. There are some of us that have worked our way up from the installation level to the consulting level and have NOT forgotten our basic skills. So to advocate no installation work to be undertaken by consultants is demeaning to those that can. If you don't understand the infrastructure you rely on to support your prognostications how can you justify the application of your consultancy.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I've been trained and have my own tools from that training, but our contract doesn't explicitly include cabling. I'll pull a replacement run if it doesn't involve cutting or conduit and will get the customer back up today. Many of my primary customer's installations are so old, though, that network outages require I test and re-terminate at least weekly. Because I do it so often, re-terminating has become a one-or-two-minute job. Added: For obvious reasons, corporate won't provide appropriate test equipment, so 'certification' is a continuity check and communication verification. In several cases, later work at some sites has required certification testing; haven't had one of my pulls or terms fail yet.

ps.techrep
ps.techrep

Relying on installers of any type who aren't licensed to do all the trades work needed to get the cabling though a structure is just plain stupid. But even if unions and building codes are ignored, only a very small percentage of IT industry workers have the understanding and training needed to run and terminate modern high speed communications cabling. Cabling is an essential piece of equipment, and just like a network card or motherboard, it can screw up the performance of the systems it's used to create. If you want to dispute this, ask each of your staffers to explain how to use a TDR for cable certification. Eliminate each one who doesn't know what a TDR is. Then ask them to write down the minimum permitted bend radius, the color code and pin-outs for each type of 568 connection, and the requirements for sealing a plenum penetration. If you yourself can't answer these questions, your aren't qualified to verify their cabling work, and you should be outsourcing all your cable installation and termination work to technicians who are certified installers. Relying on untrained, un-certified cable installers is an invitation to erratic network performance and outages.

MarkoHendy
MarkoHendy

When it comes to fault finding and the cabling culprit does not own up to it and costs time as well as money. Mark.

y0shi
y0shi

I do cable for my customers. I'm not suppose to since I do not hold a low voltage electrical license for the states I operate in. I let my customers know this up front. However I do know what I am doing, I am quick about it, and I follow code. I know this because I really butchered the first couple of jobs I cabled and I decided to learn to do it correctly. Even with my training and experience I still draw the line at fiber. Last job I did an electrician reported the work was done by a non-licensed person and the company was fined $400. The Operations Director told me not to worry about it and that it was still cheaper to have me do it. I have heard some stories about work being stopped when caught by inspectors, especially in union areas. I make sure to avoid inspectors like the plague, and if someone asks me what I am doing, im always "cleaning up". I agree, MOST IT CONSULTANTS SHOULD NOT RUN CABLING!

Chris029
Chris029

With more and more VOIP - low power installs become more and more common. With low power installs comes the need for a low power license. Just a thought.

ted.watkns
ted.watkns

I work for a medium size retailer and cabling comes with the territory. I often joke that IT stands for 'Internet and Telephone' because part of my responsibilities are to take are of the cabling also. Basically, it depends on your situation and skills. On the positive side, I have found that there is value in having a variety of additional skills.

mla_ca520
mla_ca520

I agree that cabling and rack installation should be done by people who know how. I would not do hvac work...that is a distinct certification from general building. The drawback is that even hiring a professional doesn't guarantee a good or even sufficient job...it's best to learn as much about the topic as possible and check up on how the work is done...that it is done right...I would install cable for a client or even build a server room after consulting with a qualified hvac technician to confirm that where I want to build and my plan will work for their installation.

Daniel.Muzrall
Daniel.Muzrall

I'll agree with most of the comments folks have made. You've got to know what you're good at, what you're passable at, what you're not so good at, and most importantly, what you will or will not do! I've done a reasonable amount of cabling in my time in IT. I'm fairly competent at it too. Am I a whiz? No. Does it work and meet it's intended requirements? Yes. I'll do temporary network installs (temporary office spaces, office trailers, etc.) or the occasional single drop. Other than that, I sub out to local cablers that have been properly vetted. Makes life a lot easier. You know that everything is going to be done right, and done cleanly. Plus, when you use a professional cabler, you often get a nice line testing/certification report and warranty on the work conducted! That beats my continuity testing and knowledge that I'll be around to fix it if it breaks!

douglasalt1
douglasalt1

Agree with the sentiment, use contractors with the required skills. This applies to employed staff as well. Cases that come to mind: One site used a multi-company office block, cabling to one office meant going through common area (needed way-leave permission from site owner), same site had 18" concrete wall to drill through. Another site had Grade II listing (historic building protection) so no holes in walls. Yet another site with asbestos sheeting in the path of cable runs, had to wait for local authority to clear asbestos. The list goes on but gets new t-shirts, towels and coffee mugs to the seen that, done it part.

seanferd
seanferd

The taping, mudding, and and sanding must have been really high-quality, then. :p Those shows tend to lie just a bit, for sake of expediency. The total time spent may have been relatively short, but you have to wait for stuff to dry properly. And they must have used only one coat of mud. er, edit: Good article, though. I didn't show up just to complain or whatnot. :D

mafergus
mafergus

I think it's like everything else, use common sense! I ran cabling in my pre-official IT career, so smaller jobs do not phase me. However, I do not hesitate to call in the pros for larger or complicated jobs. It just isn't worth my time to handle those jobs!

wyattbest
wyattbest

I'm a technician at a local PC sales/service shop. I agree with your advice about letting contractors handle some things professionally. We repair PC's in shop, on site and provide a full range of IT services (server administration, satellite TV, web hosting and design, networking, etc). However, we contract out three main things: 1. Hardware repair of laptops 2. Cabling 3. Clean room data recovery All of these are done through local contractors who built their own businesses, not through franchised organizations. We handle all the contact and invoicing ourselves. I'd say it works pretty well. Technicians like me can focus on what we do best, and customers get high-quality service. I will say that it's very important to pick your contractors carefully. When a customer wants to know how long till they get their laptop back, I pick up the phone and speak directly to the technician working on it, not a front desk or answering service. It would be very bad to have to tell a client that we don't know what our subcontractors are doing. We also have other local people we pass business back and forth with, like business internet and phone service. I know their technicians and sales reps by name, and they know who to recommend when someone's server is down. Keeping all the people in touch with each other and knowing how partners operate means that customers are more than happy to pay a little more for us than for the flat rate joint in the mall.

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

You can get yourself into a real hornet's nest. Do you know how to identify a plenum ceiling? It requires special cable. Does the local municipality require a license to run cable? Some do. And if you're working in a union shop, you're just asking for labor trouble if you pull DIY cable. You're a professional; do your own thing. And let the electricians do theirs. :-)

DCMadMan
DCMadMan

Now I'm not an independent in a sense that I am full time consultant but, I do work some hefty side project that dose require me to be a Jack of all Trades.. I find it Extremely valuable in and out of the independent field to take on such small projects in order to strengthen troubleshooting skills in small and large network environments.. Not taking the opportunity to refresh your skills from time to time can land you in a bad spot if you decide to one day give it a shot. These skills flood over into my professional career managing a Data Center, not only troubleshooting hardware but physical infrastructure as well.. If I need to run a new cable within the DC or out to a new desk in the office I have the full confidence that I know what I?m doing.. Even when I have contractors come in to install Fiber from an ISP I tend to look over their shoulder and ask questions about what they are doing and the equipment they use. Now on the other hand if you are consulting full time, which most of you are, I can understand leaving the dirty work up to the pros because, as stated, it just gets done the right way and much quicker. But if you do take these smaller projects on then you tend to acquire the tools and skills to get the job done just as fast and professional as the Pros will..

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

"I have also seen 'electrical contractors' run data cable and do a really messy, poor quality job more often that I care to discuss." So have I. But understand some things. In the U.S., what it takes to get an "electrical contractors" license varies greatly from place to place. Add that enforcement ... installation inspections (how thorough and how often), and so forth ... also varies greatly. Next, the NEC (National Electrical Code) which is the document with the installation guidelines that most licensed electricians are tested on in order to get a license ... concerns itself almost solely with SAFETY. That is to say, follow it and its unlikely something is gonna burn down, blow up, or electrocute someone. There are no guarantees that just because an installation meets all NEC installation requirements that the system will work, or work adequately. That is an entirely different subject which the NEC does not address at all, and has no intention of addressing. Where am I going with this? Simple, just because a company has an approved electrical contractors license and licensed electricians on their staff ... it does no mean they know how to properly and adequately design, layout, and install a data network. Nor a commercial grade fire detection and alarm system. Nor a phone system. Nor a door access control or surveillance system. Etc, etc, and so forth. Lots of "electrical contractors", especially low bidders with the cheapest of staffs, will happily agree to pull almost any sort of wire or cable you want. If they're properly licensed, they legally can. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they're any good at a particular kind of specialty installation. i.e. Within the company for whom I work we have "installers" (suitably licensed and trained electricians). We're a contractor, electrical installation is a "part" of our overall business. If I have a job, or part of one, that involves power distribution wiring, I call for some of our regular high voltage electricians. However, if its a data/voice/video job, I call for an entirely different set of guys. Guys who're specialists in that sort of work, who not only have the appropriate electrical license (know NEC standards) but who also are appropriately BICSI certified (meaning they know and understand the special technical requirements for data/voice/video installations). https://www.bicsi.org/single.aspx?l=2464,4192,4194 Now, I don't know how things are in your area. But I do know that in the area where I live and work, in the past years most anyone at all could pull and install what's called "low voltage" or "power limited" circuits (which includes data/voice/video) and there was virtually no control, inspection, oversight, etc. And I've seen some real messes as a result. These days, the state where I live now requires the so-called "Power Limited Technician" license to be pulling and installing such types of circuits. And in addition, are now starting to have electrical inspectors actually inspect new installations of these sorts of installs. Additionally, many of our customers (we primarily do high end commercial jobs) are now requiring BICSI or comparable certification. Or some other proof of specific, detailed knowledge and experience with the specific type of installation to be done. Add that many of them have gotten very smart these days and as part of the contract they draw up there are detailed specifications and expectations for the results they require.

kevaburg
kevaburg

you have the ability to design your own system, understand it fully and then get contractors in to complete the work. I design all my own power grids for my networks because that way I know someone with a knowledge of the sensitivity of the equipment and the power requirements for that system is on hand. Once it is all written down, I give the detailed requirements to the company doing the cable pulling. I see nothing wrong with this approach and it has worked well for me for a long time.

cowen80194
cowen80194

I have run in to a burning building on these issues. By the time IT is done cabling and finally calls pro the entire make up of the Cable room is so bad that it really needs to be deconstructed and reconstructed. Not just torn apart and reconnected but cataloged and managed as it goes back together. DEPENDING on configuration some equipment is just an expensive switch and others are actually managed and need to be maintained for functionality. Just moving a patch cord could lock down a port on a switch or even an entire switch if the device is managed. Then if you have multiple switches it can get even more messy to put back together. I had a Cisco switch x24 port with a quantity of 20 devices in the closet that were all a wad of knots. Being that I found out each port was managed for special services I mapped each switch port to each panel port this took a long arguably amount of time but in the end it was needed since the ports had to be reconnected exactly the same way they were before. Most ITs do not keep records and usually do not have the time to do this level of work to fix a problem that gets out of hand. There is more to cabling then making sure the colors match and the ends reach. Every job is different and you have to have the skills to evaluate and trouble shoot on a dime in most cases if you do not know you could wind up RED FLAG before you get a CO (Certificate of Occupancy)to move the first pieces of furniture in. This can cost you lot of money and if you can not correct it you can not get a Green Flag to continue and can shut down the entire project.

cowen80194
cowen80194

I am a full service Cable Installer, Test and Terminate. Fluke 4xxx tester so I can review and print out the results. BICSI "Technician" so I can also provide a BID and Request for Quote. Im in Dallas Tx though. I do not mind travel if the price is agreeable.

reisen55
reisen55

Your boss did not outsource the job to Bangalore.

kevaburg
kevaburg

I have worked as an elecrician to 16th Edition IEEE on systems up to 133kVA and installed networks (end-systems and in areas of high-EMI) in most places including machine shops. I am qualified up to 'C' certificate City and Guilds and resent the generalisation I have read in a lot of posts here that consultants should not run cabling. Some cabling can be run by consultants and if I don't have the resources to do the big jobs myself, then the job will be out-sourced to a company to install it to my design.

tbmay
tbmay

Neither the author, nor the posters, said ALL consultants. As I said, I have run cable when I was NOT an independent. Many times. I also know it's not something I'm any good at. You better know what the heck you're doing when you're drilling holes in the walls of businesses and, quite frankly, cabling is a discipline unto itself. I'm not prepared to accept the liability associated with doing something that is not part of my core skill set. If you can do it well and legally, great.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

"to advocate no installation work to be undertaken by consultants is demeaning to those that can" Noone advocated such. And "most consultants" doesn't specifically mean "all consultants", in fact, it specifically excludes "all consultants". The irony is in your geography.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Can you legally do it? - Do you have the proper licenses and permits? - Do you have, or can you obtain, any required certifications? - Is your knowledge of codes and standards current?

brightdon61
brightdon61

I think that consulting does not mean you will forget all your basic skills entirely.There are some routine networking jobs one can do and collect his pay;is only when you run out of time and the work has become complex that you can invite prof. to help you do it.

Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Even tho I possess both the appropriate electrical license (required in my state) and am BICSI certified. However, my primary responsibilities and duties (the reasons I'm at a customer site) don't normally include cable pulling. Except for the occasional minor cabling work. I do carry the basic tools and materials (limited amount). But the only reasons for my doing so are to accomplish the occasional repair if I spot a fault while working. Or to make a single new connection if installing something new, and the run is not so long or difficult such as to justify calling in an installer. The company for whom I work, always leaves these things up to my discretion and judgment call. We do have a group of fully certified, licensed, and experienced installers on staff. But there are times when it simply does not make sense to call for an installer for some minor issue. Given the time said installer would spend to pack up his stuff from one job, come to the job site I'm at, pull his gear out, do the work, repack everything, and then go back to the other job. Sometimes its simply easier, faster, more efficient, and less costly for me to simply do it myself. I maintain the quals and certs just to keep everything "kosher". That is, besides being a matter of making sure I know how to do the job properly and IAW code requirements; it avoids issues of inspectors or other workers questioning my personally doing that sort of work. i.e. For instance, I have been challenged by someone on a job site before, who demanded I prove my right and qualifications to do such work. Challenged by General Contractors, electricians, customer IT staff, electrical inspectors, etc. Not to mention, I simply wish to make sure I know HOW ... properly, adequately, and meeting all required Code issues, etc since we fully guarantee and warranty any work done by any of our staff. But when it comes to any major and significant amount of cable pulling and such, I have our regular installers do it. If the specs of the job call for us to do the cabling. Lets face it. While I do know how to do it and do it right IAW electrical and building codes and industry standards, its not my primary job. And the fact is that a regular installer (or installers) do this sort of thing for a living. Bring with them more and better equipment and tools, can plan and execute the pulls and so forth faster and better, etc. Its their profession, what they do full time. And those that work for us are proud of their abilities. They're not cheap. They make a darn decent hourly wage. At the journeyman level they make a higher than average wage, figure $30 to $40 bucks an hour, not counting bennies, overhead costs, etc. But they make darn few mistakes, final results are top notch, and they do it faster than non-expert installers at the same time. An additional side benefit is that since our installer group does so much of that sort of work, their (our) buying costs for materials is often significantly lower than it'd be for others since we get substantial discounts based upon the volume of buying we do. i.e. We can often get top of the line materials for the same price (or lower) than what others pay for the cheapie, no-name, stuff. Add that our purchasing people, since they deal in this sort of thing all the time, know who carries what, know where to find those difficult to find specialty items, and know who to talk to to "tweak" the system and expedite delivery of both ordinary materials and special order items. If I need some additional or replacement items for my work vehicle, I could simply buy them from whoever. But I usually just pay a visit to our installer group's parts guy since he probably has it on the shelf, and usually at a lower price than I'd have to pay if I bought it independently. We have a system where I can simply have costs of the materials transferred between departments. Before we formed our own in-house installer group, we had working relationships with a few outside contractors. Carefully selected, proven history of good work performed. Any significant wire pulling we needed, we had one of those firms do it. It avoided a lot of the common problems one runs into when relying upon someone of unknown ability, reliability, and quality.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I ran into this situation a couple of years ago. I got a ticket for "PC won't communicate with network" in one of my stores. I go in and perform the usual checks–continuity only–on the drop and patch cables, check the switch port, the whole nine yards. Everything checks good, but the PC won't connect reliably from that drop. I'm thinking I have a bad NIC, so I take the PC to another drop, hook it up, and it works fine. Take the PC back to its original location, it works. WTF? Then it goes down again. I keep checking stuff, then decide I'm going to tone the line out, mostly because I'm stuck on what else to do. I plug the toner in one end and go back to listen at the other. Sounds great...no, wait, what the h3ll is that noise? Up into the ceiling to trace the line and see if I can find out what the problem is. I locate the UTP at the top of the wall, and give it a tug to see where it goes. It's almost guitar-string tight. I break out the floodlight and follow the cable back across the ceiling tiles to the walk-in cooler, where the cable is stretched tight [u]across the top of the condenser motor[/u]! Every time the condenser starts, down goes the link. Check behind the wall plate for the drop, looking for a service loop, nothing. Check upstairs, nothing. It's bow-string taut even up there. I spent the next hour up and down the ladder, tracing that cable and looking all over for anything resembling a service loop. There isn't one; that cable is taut from end to end. We wound up telling the customer they would have to have a new drop pulled. Don't know who pulled it, but hopefully that id10t is not still pulling cable. I don't mind him laying it across the motor, but to not leave a service loop in case of problems? X-(

jb123
jb123

I have a client that was doing a renovation a couple of years ago and wanted some CAT6 cabling added. I offered to run the cable, but they were having some other work done by a local major university so they decided to have them also run the cable. The first thing that I noticed was the jacket stripped about 2 feet before the termination at the patch panel. They then proceeded to "certify" the CAT6 install by verifying continuity and plugging in a notebook to verify a gigabit connection to the switch. NO other electrical properties were checked!! I made no friends when I pulled out my wirescope and showed how all 24 of the new cable runs didn't pass CAT6 standards, and in some cases didn't even pass CAT5. They also terminated the cables to the T568A standard. The other 48+ runs are terminated T568B. The joy!!

muzza2005
muzza2005

... and don't have a clue about DIY or fixing the car, so why should they beany different re: physical cabling. Most of the problems described are based on consultancies doing the AI dance -ignorance and arrogance: I haven't a clue about cabling but I'll tell you I'm an expert.

cowen80194
cowen80194

Every job must meet NFPA requirements (NEC). Did you make a hole in a wall? Was that wall a single or double sheet rock wall? Was that wall rated as a fire stop wall? Was the wall a 1 hr or 2 hr burn wall? Did you use the appropriate type of penetration and fire stop for sheet rock, cement, or cinder block walls??? Do you know where to locate that information to get the correct fire stop materials.

ESchlangen
ESchlangen

I, also, have run cable and am quite comfortable doing so. However, I am no longer licensed to do so and, in my current career incarnation, definitely do not consider it to be worth the time and trouble when professionals are available to do it quickly and with minimal fuss and bother. It would take an extremely urgent circumstance for me to run cabling now.

cowen80194
cowen80194

Electricians install high voltage, Telecoms install data, phone, CCTV and other low voltage communications cable. This is where AT&T lost its ability to install and provide anything other then LD (Long Distance) phone service. An entire industry was created by the breaking up of MA BELL. Electricians pull cable but there are special ways to pull data that does not stretch the pairs and mess up the characteristics of the cable being installed. I say it this way because every cable has a certain specification for a reason. And the pros know what that is off the top of their heads.

cowen80194
cowen80194

I carry 10,000 in tools in my truck. That does not include the testers that I have. Punch tools, hand tools, crimpers, Corded and Cordless tools. There are so many different tools to install a cable in a building depending on its construction that to gather all of these tools if you want to do it yourself by the time you purchase what I already have you can pay as much or more then what you would have paid to have me do the work on a Time and Materials bid.

newcreationxavier
newcreationxavier

You're quite right.U may really miss out...then sometimes you are in a tight spot trying to save time, and not looking like you don't know it all...and then for one mischievous reason or the other it gets out of hand...I always try to avoid that.I don't like complications and I want to KEEP MY LIFE AND WORK SIMPLE.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

If you're running cable in your own home, then maybe you're ok with it. But as a consultant, you have to be professional across the board. States, counties, evensmall towns have regulation on how wiring, even low voltage wiring, needs to be run for safety Yes, I agree you should oversee the job for future reference, but by no means should the consultant do it himself unless he has the specialized training and the licenses to do it.

tbmay
tbmay

...but in informal situations. Unfortunately, many of the people who think they're good at it really aren't. I just happen to know I'm not and I know people who are.

cowen80194
cowen80194

Most people still do not want to pay the cost of a BICSI and rather pay the cheaper guy. I had a 21,000 Sq Ft space bid and proposed for DEMO and re Construction and was under bid by 7,000. Doing the math. 15-18K for materials, Plates, Jacks, Cable, And other items to finish out the server room I had a shopping list prepared. I bid 24K for the entire project labor and materials, proper number of people and time Insurance to meet that buildings requirements and background checks for the removal of the cables from the lower floor, after hours during the DEMO phase with out removing the wrong circuits (Ie Fire Alarm cable). Then to come back and pull in the new cables. and install proper supports. Factory Certified Warranty for life. That means the guy either had a ton of stolen cable and materials, or some other project bought the materials and then put the extra materials on this project. The over all amount of profit from the project to pay employees with would be about 1 to 3 thousand dollars after paying for materials. Its people like that that muddy the water for honest Install companies such as me.

kevaburg
kevaburg

What you experienced is exactly that which I describe above and is one of the things people pulling cables simply do not understand!

santeewelding
santeewelding

Was worse than pulling it in the first place.

kevaburg
kevaburg

You didn't tell them NOT to cable to T586A and that might have been their standard! That isn't a reason to criticise them. Second, if CAT6 was ordered and cable turned up with properties that didn't even meet CAT5, then get them to strip it out and start again. That isn't just bad workmanship but there are some out there that would regard these people as rip-off merchants if they are installing what is effectively, sub-standard runs. Thirdly, who verified the state of the cabling before anyone even thought of running it? It is written on the cable sheath itself what category it is, shielded/unshielded, strand density/solid etc. Someone didn't do their job there either. Lastly, if the cable didn't meet CAT5 standards then I would immediately assume that insulation resistance (or the copper purity) was very low so the cable was useless as data cable anyway. Now add to that magnetic flux density in tightly filled trunking or conduit (especially those that are shared with AC power cabling) and you will be lucky if you get a bad phonecall down the line! Contractors need to be 100% aware of the expectations from the very outset and if they aren't, then make them! Electricians do not necessarily know about data runs and the effect of detrimental mutual influence on data-based networks. And if you want an electrician to pull these cables, make sure they know that!

DCMadMan
DCMadMan

Half the battle is knowing when to say when.. At least you are still working at it from time to time. I started my tech career running cable while going to collage so I suppose I have a slight advantage over the common tech. But it does help to keep even the smallest skills polished.. Standards and technology change ever so quickly and there it is always good to learn something new and/or keep up to date.. I do agree with you about ?many of the people who think they're good at it really aren't.?.. I?ve had to deal prewires that ended up being a nightmare due to the inexperience and lack of knowledge that the previous installer attempted.. Things as simple as using Zip ties and wrenching them down so tight that it changes the impedance on the line and creates failed transmissions or slow connections seems to be an unfortunate trend in small business installations.. A good installer should know all current standards, or at the least take the time to research proper technics...

cowen80194
cowen80194

Being certified by BICSI as Technician and a member of NFPA helps.

Editor's Picks