Jump to content

Small installations (as a freelancer/favour)


Recommended Posts

Hey BR,

I'm doing a small lighting installation in a small venue (I say installation; I mean buying equipment, rigging it up and programming it/maintaining it) and have got a certain amount of money to use. I've got a rough idea as to what kind of equipment needs to be bought (intelligents, cables, IWB's, pars, etc) but I'm lost as to how to...

a: Deal with the money

b: Know how much labour is going to cost and how it ties in with the money I have

c: Know what to do with reciepts/invoices and how to finance everything.

d: (as a freelancer) Deal with the Tax man with this installation.


These kind of questions are arising which I thought about before I took on the (small) task, but I'm just asking you guys with much more experience, how you go about starting the job to finishing the job.


Cheers for any advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

welcome to the world of the freelancer!


what you are doing is nice and straightforward compared to some you'll get asked to do.


Money - you need to decide if this is going to be a one-off, or a regular thing. Nowadays, to open a business account is really difficult. In the good old days, you walked in with a letterhead or business card and they opened the account. Nowadays it's like the advert on the tv - they really don't want you unless you are going to be a big account. Paying money into a personal account is ok for a one-off, but if you get a bit busier, get an accountant etc, then you need something separate. The Nationwide have an account intended for clubs and societies, they might be willing to let you open one of these in your 'business name' - worth asking.


The snag with equipment is markup. For one offs, I often buy from some of the people here on the blue-room. I never get a discount - the prices they sell for are pretty low, and even an extra few percent is too much. You can add a percentage to these prices, and simply sell them on. You can make more money on the small bits and pieces - so clamps, lamps, adaptors, cables often yield more profit that the main kit. Build in a contingency for all the small things you've missed - clips, ties, plugs, extra cable, adaptors etc etc


Labour. One of the difficult areas. You need to really think how long the job is going to take - not just the install, but the planning, quoting, ages on the phone etc etc - and it will work out in days.


Don't be very specific on exactly what you have done - equipment preparation and installation will cover things nicely on a small job.


Keep every receipt you get, print out any internet purchase receipts. If you are 18, then a credit card, even with a modest credit limit is really handy for the on-line purchases - if you are under 18, then it's more difficult. Using a parents card is possible, but messy from the accounts perspective. The credit free period is very useful, as even if you put "Payment terms strictly 30 days" or whatever on your invoice, it's doubtful anything will happen.


The tax bit is quite simple for a beginner. You need to prepare some simple accounts at the end of the tax year. How much you earnt, how much you spent on the project. Take one from the other, and you get your profit - just over 20% goes to the government. If you have a proper job, paying PAYE, then what they will probably do, is adjust your next years allowance to recover the money - quite painless. The revenue do respond to people, although it takes a while - so writing to them, enclosing your income and expenditure sheet, tax reference number will do the trick nicely.



For what it is worth, don't do the job for less than it costs - that sounds daft, of course you wouldn't - but you'd be surprised. Maybe you forgot the 200 mile trip to collect something (the revenue consider 37p mile fair) or the train ticket, or the reel of cable you already had, and used - stuff like that. What you won't get back are expenses before the job starts. I'm off to Wales next week for a two or three hour meeting - a 600 mile round trip, plus a hotel. If the job comes off, I'll recover this - if it doesn't, then I'm around £150 out of pocket. I can claim for this - but it comes off next years profit, not this.


Hopefully, the job won't be that complicated - best of luck with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another factor to consider is VAT. If your business turnover for the year reaches the VAT threshold (currently £61,000) then you must register for VAT and charge VAT on all applicable supplies including labour. On the plus side, you do get to claim VAT back on goods and services that you have purchased. If you don't do this and Revenue & Customs catch up with you, you may find yourself with a large and unpleasant bill.


Going back to your original question - over-estimate a bit on installations, especially on the labour side. If you haven't done these sort of things before its amazing how time consuming some of the seemingly simple tasks can be - e.g. pulling the cables through for the installation.


We're based in Edinburgh too so feel free to PM me if you need any help or advice.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great advice guys much appreciated but I think I need to define what I am doing...


The installation I'm doing is fairly basic and it's the first install I've done so it's a 'one off, learning experience' - no need to drill holes, cable through walls, etc - there are already some lighting bars permenantly installed in the ceiling, so all I will be doing is rigging new lights, a couple of IWB's, some parcans, several intelligents, power cable and DMX etc. Then routing most of it back to a distro box/hardpower circuitbreaker, dimmers and desk.

So all the equipment I have mentioned is mostly going to be bought here and there, online and off.


Paulears - would the best solution to dealing with the money be for me to get them to put the money in my bank account (visa) and then I can spend from there?? It's only a 4 figure sum which seems fine to deal/work with.

Also I'll be doing it over 2 weeks, working about 8 hrs a day, so no big stretch. What kind of labour should I suggest?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.