Finding a good electrician is not just about getting your money’s worth, it’s also a matter of safety. After all, electrical issues are one of the most common causes of house fires. All electrical work needs to be done according to the National Electric Code book, as well as the codes of your city’s building department. The following ten questions will help you find a qualified, reputable, and experienced professional.
Are You Licensed?
Most states and municipalities require electricians to be licensed, so don’t even consider one who doesn’t have a legitimate license. There are two levels of license: a master electrician has at least two years of experience and is licensed for both design and installation. While a journeyman is only licensed for installation and, in some states, must be accompanied by a master.
Are You Insured?
Given the potentially high liability of the work, electricians must have insurance. Most contractors should have at least $500,000 in liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
What Kind of Work Do You Do Most?
Electricians often specialize in certain areas. For instance, if your project involves finished spaces, you’ll want someone who specializes in remodeling as opposed to new construction.
What Special Training/Experience Do You Have for This Work?
If your project requires specific expertise, like installing voice/data cabling, home automation systems, or solar equipment, you’ll want to make sure the electrician you hire has the qualifications/experience to complete the task. Even if another contractor is handling the specialty work, it’ll be helpful if the electrician has experience with the systems and protocol.
Can You Provide References?
It can be hard to judge the quality of an electrician’s work if you can’t see it for yourself. So you’ll want to see what references the electrician can provide.
What Does Your Estimate Include?
After the initial pricing structure, be sure to discuss incidental costs. These can include repairing drywall or other things that get affected by electrical work. Most of the time you’ll be the one covering them.
Do I Need a Permit? Who Will Obtain It?
A permit ensures that the electrical work will be checked by an inspector and is a vital safeguard for homeowners. Standard procedure is for the electrician to acquire the permits.
Who Will Perform the Work?
You shouldn’t assume that the person you speak to on the phone will be the one doing the work. Be sure to ask about the hourly rates for different qualifications (master, journeyman/apprentice, or a combination of workers). If you specifically want a master electrician, be sure to discuss it up front with the company.
What Will You Guarantee/Warranty?
You should learn how much a professional stands behind their work. Also, know that electricians usually assume responsibility for fixtures, devices, and other equipment that they purchase for you through professional accounts.
Can I See Work in Progress?
Depending on the project being worked on, it could be helpful to visit an electrician’s current job site to get a peek at their work. You want to look for how orderly and methodical the installation is. Which includes neat cable runs near the breaker panel, clear labeling of circuit breakers, regular anchoring of cables, and well-placed switch boxes.
As you go through your list of questions, observe the electrician’s manner, you want someone who can explain what they’re doing and why, and can help you understand the essentials of your electrical system. Ideally, the electrician you hire could also become a good source to call about future projects and emergencies.