Whether you’re looking to add outlets to your newly remodeled kitchen, planning to turn your house into a smart home, or you’re simply looking to have some kind of electrical work done, you need a professional electrician.
Even if the job seems basic (and could be accomplished by looking at instruction videos online), it is always a better idea to hire a licensed electrician to make sure that the work is done safely and correctly.
In this article, we will share with you some tips when choosing the right electrical contractor for your home project. We’ll also include a few important questions to ask an electrician to ensure that you’re hiring a pro with the ideal experience and best practices that will suit your needs.
Before we go into those things, let’s quickly look at the signs telling you that you need to call for the help of an electrician.
# 1 Common Electrical Mistake: Exposed Wiring and Splicing
• Your circuit breaker keeps tripping – Yes, you can always reset your circuit breaker when it trips to restore power. However, if this happens regularly, it means that you have an underlying electrical problem that needs to be addressed.
• Your lights are flickering – Not only is this annoying, but flickering lights could be an indication that you have a faulty light switch, loose or frayed wiring, or there are voltage fluctuations in your system. Either way, it’s best to have it checked by a trusted electrician.
• You use too many extension cords – Using extension cords is convenient, but take note that they are not built to be used for long periods. Using too many extension cords is a fire hazard and the best thing to do is to have new outlets installed where you need them.
• Your outlet or switch plate is too hot to touch – It’s not normal for these things to heat up, and it should be a cause of concern when it happens.
You experience an electric shock when you come in contact with an outlet or a light switch – Electric shocks could be a sign of faulty wiring and is an electric fire risk.
The things mentioned above are just a few examples of the perfect times to call an electrician. The best rule to apply here is that when it comes to anything related to electricity, hiring a professional is always the right option for your safety and peace of mind. Now, let’s take at some of the things to look for when choosing an electrician.
Tips When Hiring an Electrician
Tip #1: Only hire an electrician who is licensed and insured
If you want to get your money’s worth and more importantly, ensure that the electrical work is done correctly, choose to only hire with electricians who are licensed and insured. Although a licensed pro has a higher rate than an amateur, their license is your guarantee that they took the necessary courses and have the experience to properly perform the job.
Before you make a deal, be sure to ask to see the contractor’s license and double-check their license online to verify. (For example, you can check for a contractor’s license in California on this website)
Besides their license, you also want to make sure that the contractor has all the necessary insurance coverage when carrying out the job. In addition, hiring an unlicensed electrician may cause you to fail to claim your home insurance in case something goes wrong (such as a house fire) due to shoddy workmanship.
Did you know?
Most states in the U.S. have three types of electrician licensing:
• Electrician apprentice – allowed to carry out limited work with the supervision of a journeyman or master electrician
• Journeyman electrician – generally is allowed to work independently and often supervises the work of apprentices.
• Master electrician – can pull permits for electrical projects and can take on complex work
Tip #2: Choose the contractor that offers the best value for money
The simplest way to get the best deal is to get quotes from at least three contractors. Typically, electricians would offer free estimates, so you have to inform them of your requirements so that everything is included in the quote. Put everything in black and white to make sure expectations are met once the job is completed.
We would also advise you to not get too caught up in the hourly rate of an electrician. The cost when hiring a licensed electrician in the U.S. is $75 per hour or an average hourly rate of $50 to $100, depending on experience and location. If you live in highly urbanized states, do expect that the rates will fall on the higher side, while rates will be cheaper for contractors in rural areas.
An important thing to remember is to not choose a contractor based on price alone as there are other things to think about such as their expertise, professionalism, etc.
Tip #3: Opt to hire electricians near you
There’s a huge reason why you should consider hiring a local electrician near you and that’s COST. Note that electricians do charge their travel time and your home’s proximity to the supplies store, which impacts the price that you pay for their service.
When talking to potential contractors, ask them about how/what they charge and see if this makes sense for your situation.
Tip #4: Consider the electrician’s qualifications and expertise
Not all electricians are equal. As mentioned above, there are three types of electrician licensing. Some electricians even have extra qualifications, accreditations, or training in various areas of electric work, so you want to check if they have the knowledge to do the work. For example, if you want to have smart home automation systems installed in your home, you want to confirm if the service provider you’re talking to has the experience in carrying out this work.
Tip #5: Ask for recommendations
One way to be sure that you’re hiring a reliable electrician is to ask for a recommendation from someone you trust. Do your homework and ask your neighbors or your friends nearby if they can refer a trusted electrician. If you can’t get any recommendations, you can always look at reviews or testimonials. Another option is to ask the service provider for any references and reach out to the referee to check if they are legitimate.
To make thing’s easier for you, here are 10 questions you can ask an electrician before you hire them.
1. Are you licensed?
Again, a licensed electrician saves you from the headache of dealing with poor-quality work. More importantly, in most states, it is illegal for any unlicensed individual to carry out any installation or repairs related to electricity. You can even fail a home inspection if your property’s electrical system is poorly done.
2. Do you have insurance?
Ensure that the contractor has a minimum of $500,000 in liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
3. What are your areas of specialization?
Electricians have specializations, so you want to make sure that you hire the one that fits the job.
4. Do you have the experience and training for this type of work?
Asking this question is essential, especially if the work requires a specific kind of specialization, like a solar panel installation or smart home automation.
5. Can you provide references for your previous work that is similar to mine?
It would be difficult for a typical homeowner to judge an electrician’s quality of work since most probably they wouldn’t know what to look for. An effective way to see the standard of a contractor’s work is to ask for references.
6. What are the things that are included in your estimate?
Besides the pricing structure, be sure to discuss with the electrician the incidentals, like covering the drywall after a repair/installation or site clean up. Most likely, homeowners would be responsible for this.
7. Is there a permit required to carry out this work? Who will pull the permit?
Not all electrical works require a permit and inspection, so check with your local contractor whether a permit is needed or not. If it is a requirement, also ask the electrician who will obtain it. Generally, it’s the electrical contractors who pull out permits.
8. Who will carry out the work?
Unless it’s an independent electrician you’re hiring, never assume that the person you’re talking to is the one who will be doing the work. Be upfront with the service provider, especially if you think that the project requires the expertise of a master electrician.
9. Is there a work guarantee or warranty? What does it cover?
Professional contractors often offer a workmanship warranty that provinces coverage on any errors on repairs or installations. Make sure to ask the service provider about these things.
10. Can I visit a site of your current job?
If you’re hiring an electrician for a major project, it’s helpful to ask them if you can visit their current job site to see the behind-the-scenes of their work. You want to look at how orderly or methodical they carry out their projects.
Like with many home improvement projects, leaving the electrical repairs and installations to a qualified electrician is always the best idea. At Same Day Pros, we can help you locate the most reliable contractors near you. Find home services providers from your area here.