Electrical Contractors

For the creature comforts of a new home nothing is complete without the services of an electrician. Heating, air conditioning, showers and dishwashing all need electrical connections to function and would sit idle with this attachment.

As well, in terms of safety for the home there is no more important person than the electrical contractor. This person is responsible for the transfer of hundreds of amps of electricity through many parts of a building that are highly flammable. This makes the electrical trade a highly-regulated part of the construction industry and one where the individual has to be both highly-educated and highly-trained.

In most parts of Canada an applicant for electrician program must have a formal education that includes up to 1200 hours in school. There the students learn all aspects of electricity: installing, wiring, calibrating, repairing, construction and high-power systems. Then there is an electrician apprenticeship process that requires job experience of 6,000 workplace hours under a licensed electrician. This process takes an average of four years and after that the apprentice can write for his or her provincial endorsement. To be an electrical contractor requires more training and more schooling. This is to have the knowledge and experience to bid on and direct electrical applications on large-scale construction projects.

In new home building blueprints will be made available to all trade and sub trades needed for the project by the general contractor or project manager. In some cases several bids will be required for each operation and the electrical work is subject to this bidding process. The bid will have to include all the applicable part of the new construction: mechanical system, general wiring, lights, outlets, appliances, CAT5 computer lines and telephone stations. All the high voltage lines will be directed to the electrical panel where an impartial inspector will see if the codes have been met. When the check is completed the electrician is finished for the time being and the insulators, drywallers, flooring installers and other trades will go in to complete the homes. After the home is finished then the electrician will return to stall the lighting fixtures and other finishing touches.

When an electrician has put in years of service this is no guarantee that he or she will be the right person for your project. This is because the electrical field is very broad and to be a specialist in every part of it would take several lifetimes. For example, if a customer wants to have a photovoltaic solar system installed with a complete battery system a regular electrician might be able to do it by following the schematic. However, an electrician who has had many years of experience setting up these power systems will not only do the project quickly and more efficiently but would have all the knowledge to teach this homeowner how to use and maintain it. To use another example, you would not want the solar electrician doing the wiring for a small shopping center either. Both electricians are good professionals, they just have their areas of expertise. This is why you have to ask questions before choosing an electrician for your project.

Hiring an Electrician

Picking the right electrician is more a process of elimination. Once you know what you want to do then you choose the electrician that has the skills to complete the work.

  1. What is the Job? This is a simple step. If you want a light installed then almost any electrician can do this. However, if you want radiant in-floor heating it’s best to get an electrician who knows this process. The last thing you want is to pay someone to read the directions on a box.
  2. Recommendations: This part of the hiring is really important because if a friend has had a new electrical panel installed, and was happy with the work, you know the electrician is good and you know how much he or she charges beforehand. You can use this price as a benchmark for other estimates.
  3. Specifications: Write down what you want. If you have fixtures to install have them present when the electrician comes over to give you an estimate. This gives both you and the electricians a level playing field for the bid.
  4. Licensed and Insured: Make sure you see proof that the electricians have everything up to date. And ask how long they have been in business.
  5. References: If they are licensed they can put in an outlet or two but for more involved projects that require time and parts get references. There’s nothing worse than an electrician leaving a mess of wires and not returning for many days. The main question to ask here is, “Did they finish the job the way you wanted in a timely manner?”
  6. Payment: Pay when the job is done. If you are asked for an advance, go on to the next electrician.

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