10 Important Questions to Ask Your New Electrician

Hiring the right electrician is more than just finding the right contractor to do the job professionally and affordable-it’s also about doing it safely too. Because electricity is such a dangerous home improvement project, hiring a professional who is licensed and insured isn’t always enough. Good credentials, references and professional knowledge also help to ensure you get the right person for the job. Use this guide to finding a new electrician to be sure you get a quality electrician the first and only time you need one.

Before you start giving your new electrician a hard time, it’s a good idea to approach naturally and avoid any over protagonist questions. Professional electricians are a proud trade and like to be independent. It’s ok to ask questions; just be couth about your approach or you may find that no one wants to do your job!

Do you have a license? First and foremost—before any other question is asked of a prospective electrical contractor, you should ask to see a license. Electrical contractors can have a wide variety of licenses for a wide variety of jobs. State certified electrical contractors are at the top of their profession, while regional and county electricians can only practice in certain areas and are restricted to specific tasks only.

It’s always a good idea to give your local building department a call to determine exactly what license your electrician needs to perform the job you are requesting. Sometimes with luck, building department officials can also give you a heads up to which electricians are best—and which ones to avoid.

Do you have insurance? An insured electrician is a safe electrician. If an accident occurs during any installation, repair or renovation project, the electrical contractor is responsible for any monetary benefits to the person who gets hurt on your job. Not only do insured electricians protect workers’ rights, they also protect you as the consumer. If accidents to materials happen or thefts occur, a professional electrician with builders risk insurance will have no problem replacing stolen or damaged goods without any expense to you.

What are your credentials? An electrician who is affiliated with the Better Business Bureau, electrician unions or other local electrical organizations doesn’t always prove that the electrician is going to do a good job. But what it does prove is that the electrician is loyal to their trade and that they are up to date and informed about recent electrical installation methods and ethical business practices. If your electrician is in an organization; it’s good for you—if they are not, it certainly doesn’t mean they are bad at their job.

Can I see some references? Almost as important as licensing, references can tell the story of your electrical contractors past. If past clients really love their work, then they are most likely a good choice for your new electrician. Without at least three to five contactable references, it’s probably a good idea to find an electrician who’s got the experience you need to do the best job possible, for the right price.

What are your specialties? Knowing exactly what your prospective electrician is best at can help you avoid pitfalls and problems that occur with specific electrical tasks. For instance, if an electrician is used to repairs, maintenance and emergency electrical work, they may not be as adapt to new installation or renovations as an electrical contractor who specializes in that sort of work would. Finding the right electrician for your particular job is a must have when it comes to getting the job done right.

Who will be performing the actual work? Many licensed electrical contractors hire journeyman electricians to perform work under their license. While most subcontracting professionals typically have the experience to get the job done, it’s a good idea to ask who specifically is going to do the electrical work on your home. Always ask to see references from subcontractors before any work is performed to be certain the work is being done by someone you trust.

Do I need a permit? A licensed electrician might not always let you know right away whether or not they need to pull a permit with the local building department. That’s why it’s always important for the homeowner to do the legwork and find out exactly what permits are required—if any at all—long before you agree to any contract. A local building official will let you know exactly what you need, who you need to hire, what inspections will be performed and how much permitting fees will cost before any electrical project begins.

What work will you perform? The job at hand is what is important to the overall budget. Many times, the electrical contractor may perform services where drywall, siding, flooring or other penetrations are required. These are more than likely going to have to be repaired by another contracting professional or left up to the homeowner. It’s a good idea to get cost breakdown list of services being performed before you agree to any work order contract.

What warranties and guarantees will you honor? Once the work is done, if any malfunctions occur in the future, what responsibilities and costs will you be associated with? A strong contract will let you know exactly what and how long your electrical project will be covered under their warranty. Not only should you look out for warranties on work, warranties on materials should be addressed as well. That way, if problems do occur, repairs will be fast and hassle free because you’ll know just what’s covered and what’s not in your contract.

What are your service fees? Some electrical technician services charge a fee to perform an estimate. Whether they get any work done or not, the fee to show up at your house is nonnegotiable. Before hiring an electrical contractor to perform any work, always ask if service fees, travel costs and trip charges are relevant to them visiting your job. This way you’ll avoid any hidden charges or fees before you choose your new electrical contractor.

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