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Anytime you are looking for a place to rent, lease, or buy, the realtor or agent will likely say “it’s got great bones.” Any building has an essential infrastructure that is key in evaluating its worth. One important factor that should never be overlooked is the wiring and electrical setup. Poor or worn-out wiring can easily cause fires, blown appliances, or even electrocution. Older buildings are particularly at high risk of these problems. Even if a building’s wiring is not faulty, it can still be out of code. While electrical building codes do not change too often on a grand scale, many old buildings’ wiring schemes would not pass safety inspections.
For all these reasons, you need to hire an electrician to give your building a once over and fix any issues that need addressing. But you shouldn’t just hire a random electrician or handyman. You need an electrician that is capable of proper repair but, sadly, the market is flooded with unqualified workers. You also want to make sure to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts before starting any work to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Here are some of the best tips to follow when hiring an electrician to help you find the most suitable person for the job.
Tips For Hiring An Electrician
Work History And References
As with any job, knowing what kind of work the electrician has done in the past will be of great value to you. For instance, commercial or industrial electricians may not be fully suited for residential work, and vice versa. Large firms will be able to cover both types of projects and have suitable workers for them. Ask the potential electrician for references. Their website, if they have one, will likely have a testimonials page. You can also ask them for pictures of previous work they have done. This can give you an idea of the type of work they will deliver to your project. If you are looking for a small project, the best reference or testimonial you can get is that of a close friend, so ask your friends and family for electricians they have tried out in the past. There are also websites to help you find reviews for electricians if you can’t get recommendations from your own network.
Verify Proper Certification
Whether you are on the East Coast or West Coast, electricians need to be licensed. As an electrician, getting licensed can involve a series of steps. While it varies from one state to another, the core aspects of the process remain the same. The process will often involve undergoing some schooling period, passing exams, and working as an apprentice. This process ensures that electricians are properly educated both theoretically and practically. While the process sounds straightforward, it can take 4 years to complete, on average. With over 100 hours of in-class training and at least 2000 hours of apprenticeship, licensed electricians will have seen it all. This helps them master their craft, understand their limitations, and understand how to meet city code. Ask your electrician for their license number, which should be on their business card, and ask them for their full name. With this information, you can check if their license is up to date with your state’s department of labor or the Better Business Bureau. Experienced electricians may also have additional certifications that you can request to take a look at. This demonstrates their commitment to excelling in the field.
Their licensing is not just important for your peace of mind; large repair projects, new, ground-up projects, and industrial projects all require permits. Permits will not be issued without licensed professionals. You need to ensure that the electrician hired applies for the requisite permits before the work commences. Of course, these permits come at a cost, but we will discuss that more in just a bit. When applying for a permit, you will need to schedule a date for an inspection visit by the city to make sure they verify that the work is up to code. If you reside in Providence or the neighboring area, any Rhode Island Electrician should be more than capable of taking care of this for you, thanks to their experience in navigating the city’s bureaucratic landscape. Just make sure you ask them to give you copies of the paperwork.
Check Their Insurance
Once you have verified that your electrician is properly licensed, the next step is to check their insurance. Electricians need a wide array of insurance plans, with some, being more important than others. Depending on the electrician, he can be covered for general liability, employee liability, tools and business equipment, stock and equipment, and contract insurance.
Consider The Big Name Companies
While this can be somewhat costly, big firms are a fantastic way to go. Big, established, well-known firms give you the peace of mind that you just do not get with independent trade workers. This is not to say working with big companies is without its flaws, however. Big companies will likely charge more for the same job. They may also have a very bureaucratic system which may make the project take longer to complete. But the pros include efficient and clean work, experienced workers with proper oversight, and high professionalism. Compare big-name companies’ quotes to those of an independent electrician and consider if the difference is worth it.
Get An Initial Quote
Every electrician should provide you with an initial estimate. This estimate is just that; it’s only an approximate figure. If the project is a new installment and not a repair job, the initial estimate shouldn’t be very different from the final bill, if at all. Repair jobs are more likely to have some variation between the estimate and the actual bill. Any professional will inspect and diagnose any issues before giving the estimate, but surprises can easily come up and affect the project cost. Such situations are often unforeseen and are not through the electrician’s own fault, but before they start working, they should be able to present you the case and tell you when they will be certain of the situation. If that’s the case, ask them for a range as an estimate. Be sure to review the estimate, negotiate the price, and discuss any potential issues before agreeing to give them the job. Also, ask for an itemized bill when purchasing the raw materials and spare parts and independently price those items. Electricians can usually get these cheaper than the average client as they get discounts from the vendors, but they can also up-charge you if you do not discuss the fine details.
Agree On A Timeline
This is the big one. You want your work to be done quickly, cheaply, and properly — pick two. Oftentimes that is the case with skill-based labor jobs. You definitely do not want to sacrifice quality with an important aspect of any project, like electrical work. And no one wants work to cost any more than the bare minimum. That leaves you with the timeline, so try to negotiate aggressively on this one and do not simply accept the timeline they propose. Electricians will usually give themself a safety buffer on their proposed timeline and if you are in a rush you should reduce this buffer to its bare minimum. You should also discuss the penalty if they deliver later than the deadline agreed on. This may not be much of an issue for small home repairs but a critical issue with larger projects like a ground-up installation of a home or an industry-scale project. In such situations, delays do not just hinder the project completion date, but they can also affect the progress of other construction workers who are dependent on the electrical aspect of the project.
Have Their Work Inspected
At the end of the day, the best way to make sure the work you receive from an electrician is up to par is to have another professional inspect their work. Be clear with your electrician and explain to them that you plan on having an inspector sign off on their work, halfway through the project and at its completion. This will help make sure the electrician does not cut corners, use substandard materials, or deliver work out of code. Having the work meet city code is critical, and for new projects or major repairs, a city inspector signing off on the work is a must!
Wrapping It Up
Any type of construction work is a hassle. Sadly, it can be even more of a hassle when the required work is not carried out properly. There are many unscrupulous people out there that fake their credentials or cut corners in their work. Electricians are no different. When interviewing a potential electrician, follow the steps mentioned above, especially the verification of credentials, to weed out all the scammers and con artists and demonstrate to the electrician that you are meticulous and well informed. This will have them perform the work to the best of their capabilities.
Do not, under any circumstances, consider hiring someone that is not licensed, does not have the appropriate insurance, or begins working without providing you an initial quote. Even if their rate is cheaper, it leaves you liable to a myriad of issues that could arise, and you can end up with subpar work, at best. You might even find yourself involved in costly lawsuits. The time that you spend vetting the electrician before hiring them will surely be worth it once the project is underway, so be patient and do not rush the hiring process. Make sure you clearly explain what you want, expect, and need before starting any work. Miscommunication between you as a client and your electrician can lead to issues, even if they do everything they are supposed to.