Whether your a new homeowner or an existing one, you will probably need an electrician several times. Afterall, it is critical to keep your home electrical system safe and functional. So, how do you select a good electrician?
Most people begin by asking their family and friends. But what if your new to the neighborhood? While you might be tempted to pick a random name out of the phone book, you might accidentally hit an unreliable electrical contractor. Many people have had success using online directories like SmartGuy.com, which lists thousands of local professionals many with ratings you can verify.
Regardless, here are a few things that will help you select a good electrician.
Get Organized. Make sure you know before you began the changes you want to make. It’s one thing if you want to add a light switch, but if you’re doing a whole room addition, that requires more planning. In order to minimize costs, you want to do it right the first time. Otherwise, you will run into change order, who can quickly increase the costs of the job.
Licensed, bonded and Insured. You probably already know the importance of making sure the electrician you select be licensed, bonded and insured, but it must be emphasized. This can help protect you from unnecessary costs and stress if something goes wrong in your home. It also ensures that the electricians working on your home has the proper training to perform safe and effective work. Keep in mind, there are two types of licenses: a journeyman’s license (kind of like a beginner license), and a full electrician’s license. It’s always a good idea to choose a professional with an electrician’s license for the most skilled, experienced work.
Secure a few estimates. Seek a written detailed estimate from each of the electrical contractors. The electrical estimate should include a summary of labor, material costs, the specific brand of materials, and details of the scope of the job. Also, be sure to find out who is doing the work. Some electricians, especially when they are busy, subcontract the work to others who might not be as experienced.
Look into references and past jobs. Ask for a list of past clients from each electrician and call them to see how they did, how long it took them and if they experienced any issues working with the electricians. You might want to even ask them for references of a few jobs they did five years earlier to see how they are holding up.
Look into reviews. Before hiring the electrician, look and see if they have a BBB rating or SmartGuy rating. You can also enter the electrician’s name followed by the words “rip off” or “scam” and see if anything comes up. You might also find some information on their company at your state’s Contractors License Reference Site.
Request a detailed contract. Make sure everything that is discussed pertaining to job is in writing. The contract needs to include all the electrician’s information, including: name, address, office and cell numbers, and license number, plus whatever details were in the estimate. It is important that the contract clearly states what is and is not included in the job. Also, get a copy of the electricians liability and workers’ compensation insurance certificates. Be careful If he tells you that he doesn’t have coverage. If something goes wrong, you could be responsible. For example, if a worker gets hurt or resulting in a fire.
Request a guarantee. Any good electrician should be confident of his work and be happy to provide a guarantee after the job is done at no or little cost. They should feel confident of their work and cover you if something goes wrong after the electrical work is completed.
Finally, make sure to never give more than 10-20% in advance. You don’t want the money your paying him to go to bills from his last job, rather than for your materials. Also, don’t pay him the last 20% until the entire job is done to your approval.
When you want to select a good electrician, it pays to take the right steps.