Installing electrical fittings and outlets in a building is a task that a homeowner can choose to undertake themselves.
However, while some homeowners may have the luxury of time to do so, it’s usually better for one to choose a professional electrician to get the job done.
The Guardian noted that, within the UK, almost 75% of homeowners refused to do electrical work themselves, opting to hire professionals.
A homeowner doesn’t just want any electrician working for them, however.
Electrical wiring is a high-risk job, even in the most common of circumstances.
It may be tempting to head to the nearest internet search and check out the rates and locations of nearby electricians, but one can’t be sure those are professionals.
When it comes to building electricals, one should prefer to hire professionals since the job is not only a high-risk undertaking, but poor execution could lead to a fire hazard for the homeowner in the long term.
Is an Expert Electrician Strictly Necessary?
Someone who does electrical work might not necessarily be an electrician.
In the US, a homeowner can ask to see an electrician’s state license, but even licensed professionals come in two classes.
This Old House mentions that a master electrician and a journeyman electrician may both have licenses, but the master electrician has more experience to his or her name.
Depending on the type of work required, a homeowner might be able to get by with a journeyman electrician.
If a homeowner is looking to design a power system distribution for their home or needs to get the load balancing worked out, then a master electrician is the person to help.
A journeyman electrician can install wiring and fuses and even fix minor electrical problems with a certain amount of competence.
Depending on where in the country one resides, a journeyman electrician needs to train under a master electrician before they can qualify for a master’s license themselves.
How Should a Homeowner Choose an Electrician?
It’s a simple enough task to decide that one needs a professional to get the job done, but choosing the right professional for the mission takes a little bit more effort.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are over 650,000 electricians currently working in the country.
To choose the right individual for the job, a homeowner can go through a series of steps to ensure that one is ready to deal with an electrician at a professional level.
Step 1: Organise
The first thing any homeowner needs to do is to figure out what they want to be done.
Adding a light switch, for example, is an entirely different job to having an entire room rewired.
The adage of measuring twice and cutting once applies here, as knowing what the job entails ensures that the electrician is fully aware of what the result should be, and doesn’t need to do the same thing twice because instructions were not clear.
Step 2: Get Some Estimates
One doesn’t automatically choose the very first electrician one meets or interviews.
Calling around for a few estimates can help to get a gauge for the cost of the project and the amount of time it is likely to take.
Additionally, when asking for estimates, ensure to follow up with the company or electrician as to who is actually doing the work.
Some electricians have journeymen working under them and delegate specific tasks to their trainees.
Step 3: Ensure the Electrician is Licensed, Bonded & Insured
Once one has narrowed down the choices to a shortlist of candidates, the next step is to check that the candidates in question are adequately licensed, bonded, and insured.
Licensing and bonding give the homeowner a sense of security when it comes to the professional’s work since it’s being performed by a professional.
Insurance is a necessity in any business, and in the field of electrical installation, it covers both the worker and the homeowner in case of any accidents that result in severe damage to the house or its occupants.
When looking at the cost of a licensed, bonded, and insured electrician, many homeowners may prefer to invest their money in a journeyman that works private jobs in his or her own time.
The risk of choosing a non-professional is that if anything were to go wrong, the entire cost of replacement and repair falls on the homeowner.
In some cases, homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover repairs by non-professionals meaning that the total cost of rehabilitation must come out-of-pocket.
Choosing an insured, licensed professional is a more financially sound choice.
Step 4: Check References & Reviews of Past Work
The best way to check whether a professional is worth the money that the homeowner spends on him or her is to check out references of their past jobs or read reviews about their prior work.
Asking the contractor for previous work they have done and contacts for those employers is a step in the right direction.
If the electrician fails to provide a set of references or is vague with their presented previous employers, then it’s a sign that the contractor may not be a trustworthy one.
With the past employers, a homeowner should seek to find out about how good the estimate was to the completed work in terms of both time and money and use that as a gauge for whether the electrician is likely to rip them off.
Step 5: Draw Up a Contract
A contract is a legal document designed to protect both the professional and the homeowner.
Having one that spells out expectations and sets time limits on completion of work as well as any penalties for failing to meet those standards can help to put a homeowner’s mind at rest.
Additionally, together with the contract should be copies of the electrician workers compensation and electricians liability insurance certificates.
If they lack coverage in those areas, then it’s best for the homeowner to choose another contractor that has it.
Step 6: Down Payment
For most jobs, electrical contractors require a down payment on the total cost.
Most professionals don’t ask for more than 20%, but some even accept as little as 10% in down payment, if the contractor asks for more then it’s a sign that the contractor might be using the money paid for this job to pay off expenses in his or her previous jobs.
It may also mean that this particular project may take longer than expected as the electrician is probably spending extra time on his or her other unfinished tasks.
The Right Electrical Contractor
An electrical contractor that a homeowner has an understanding with and is comfortable working alongside is a rare gem.
Finding one that conforms to these essential criteria is harder than just choosing a random electrician.
Having a certified, insured electrician is a far better option for a homeowner than having someone who does part-time wiring.
Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.