When it comes to homeownership, being an enterprising DIY type can come in handy. Who doesn’t want to save some money with upcycling or Pinterest projects? If HGTV’s popularity is anything to go by, most of us imagine ourselves as competent enough to keep up with the teams on This Old House.
On the other hand, being a handyman and being an electrician– these are not the same thing.
Think about it:
If you mess up refinishing a table, or hanging drywall, what’s the worst that could happen? A bad end result? Needing to start over? These are hardly world-ending problems.
What happens if you mess up working on some electrical repairs in your home? What happens if you don’t run a proper home safety check after the work is done?
Realistically, you could be harmed or even killed by the high voltages running through your home. Even small electric repair jobs – lighting services, outlet installations, ceiling fan wiring – can be attached to serious risk factors.
Protect yourself. Whether you’re in Fort Lauderdale, some other part of Florida, or you’re reading this from another part of the USA or even another country, we do not recommend taking electrical repairs lightly.
Electrical hazards cause over 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries every year. It’s the sixth highest cause of workplace deaths, and isn’t far behind in deaths within the home. That’s without counting deaths related to electrical fires. When those factors are included, the numbers more than double.Unfortunately, faulty or aging electrical wiring is responsible for a substantial percentage of all house fires.
There’s no shame in asking for professional help when it comes to things that can harm you or your loved ones..
You’ve decided to hire an electrician? Great … now what?!
Now that we’ve convinced you that electrical repair is not for the untrained, you’ve got to figure out how to hire the right electrician for the job you’ve got in mind. “Better safe than sorry” applies to the actual electrical work, but also to the electrician you choose to hire.
For most people, the first instinct is to use Google. Search strings like “electrician near me” or “electrician in my area” can be a great place to start, but names and numbers don’t give you enough information to go on.
In this article, we’re going to give you the tools you need to weed out the kind of electrical contractors you don’t want. That means people who:
“Now, wait,” I hear you thinking, “ Surely I can at least assume that a company with a website and a professional email address can be trusted not to be shady, right?
Anyone can make a website these days. But there are things they can’t do, like manufacture a fake reputation, and we’ll teach you how to separate the good from the bad.
Here’s a free hint: we’re pretty sure we’re with the good guys.
So, without further ado, let’s help you make the right choice – the first time.
Ten Foolproof Tips to Select an Electrical Contractor
Trust is a valuable commodity. If you have someone in your life, a relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, and they’ve had some electrical work done, you should find out who they hired and what they thought. Word of mouth is impossible to fake. If a company comes highly recommended by someone whose word you rely on, that’s an excellent place to start. Conversely, if your source had a bad experience, you’re blessed with an electrician you can quietly cross off your list.
Do make lists, by the way. We’ll get into that in a minute.
The bottom line here is that your friends and family are a great resource. Once you’ve found a great electrician, don’t forget that you are now the carrier of that word-of-mouth and you can recommend them to new people, as well!
If you can’t get a personal recommendation – or even if you’ve gotten one – use a web search or business directory to locate a few electricians. Be ready to reach out to them, as well.
However, before you even call them, there are a few ways you can vet them on your own, all with a few simple clicks. Most online businesses will have reviews on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau. These are independent agencies that don’t allow “buying” of good reviews.
When a company has been around long enough, you’ll probably find reviews that aren’t perfect. Those can be even more valuable than raves. Read the good and bad reviews, and try to get a sense of whether the contractor is a good fit for your needs.
With good reviews, look for what the customer loved about them, and compare it to your wishlist. If professionalism tops your list, see if a reviewer mentions politeness, uniforms, clean trucks, adhering to timelines, and things like that. If budget is super important to you, see if any reviewers mention them staying in or under their estimate.
With bad reviews, give some thought as to whether the contractor earned the bad review. Were they late? Were they unprofessional or rude? Did they hit the customer with hidden fees?
Good or bad, reviews can tell you a lot. If you aren’t sure after reading reviews, you’ll at least have good questions to ask when you call them. We’ve had customers read reviews online and then call us to ask questions those reviews brought up – that’s a great way to get a feel for a contractor!
Profit margins in any kind of contractor work – electrical, plumbing, general construction, you name it – are razor thin. You’re looking for the right balance between affordable and professional. Usually, the best contractor is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive.
You start by getting quotes!
Any reputable electrician in Chula Vista will be aware of pricing trends, and therefore willing to give a detailed estimate for any job. That estimate should include parts, labor, and itemization for things like hourly rates, overtime, or other incidentals. If any contractor refuses to provide you with a quote, say goodbye.
Get as many quotes as you feel you need. Three or four is usually good. That will give you a healthy range to work with. Then …
If their estimate is too high or too low, throw a flag on the play. You can get more details on why their price is what it is. You should be asking about guarantees that work is up-to-code and will be warrantied for repairs for a certain amount of time.
You should also find out whether the electrician you’re dealing with is licensed and affiliated. There are certifications and national firms that allow contractors to work under their umbrella or use their name. Sometimes, those contractors cost more than independent companies. They may or may not be worth the added expense.
Every electrician you call should be ready and willing to show licenses and insurance. Florida electricians and electrical contractors are required to take an exam that covers circuits, conductors, grounding, safety, and more. Whether you’re in Fort Lauderdale or the Keys, make sure that your electrician is licensed.
Florida has four types of electrician’s licenses, split between electricians and electrical specialty contractors, and split again between “Certified” and “Registered” providers. Certified contractors are licensed statewide, while registered contractors only possess a local license for specific counties or municipalities. Which certification they hold does not necessarily dictate their level of competence. What you want to avoid is a contractor who doesn’t hold any.
The same holds true for insurance. If an uninsured contractor has trouble on your property, and damage or injury ensues, you could be held liable. Make sure you see up-to-date proof of insurance before any deposits are made or contracts are signed.
Electrical work is quite complex. While most electricians can handle anything you throw their way, some jobs are a bit more specialized. If your needs involve simple wiring and fixtures, you’re probably safe with any reputable company. On the other hand, if you need control systems designed or improved, or a security system installed, or a transformer connected or disconnected, you might want to ensure that the company you’re speaking to can send a Master Electrician or a skilled Journeyman with the appropriate experience out to your home.