Hiring the right electrician

  

Hiring the right electrical contractor for your job, whether it’s big or small, is an important decision that requires a blend of asking the right questions and being prepared for the questions a contractor will ask you.  Here are some guidelines to help guide you find an electrical contractor who is right for your needs.
 
1. Ask for Referrals.  Although it may seem obvious, one of the best ways to find a qualified electrical contractor is to ask your friends, neighbors and co-workers for references.  Many times, they’ve already been through the process and will offer you an honest evaluation of a contractor’s work.  All the advertising in the world can’t overcome a bad reputation and shoddy work, so reach out to people you know, if at all possible. 
 
You can supplement these efforts by going to sites like Angie’s List (link) where customers review work done by contractors. 
Another good source is to contact local general contractors who use good electrical contractors over and over again.  They have already done your pre-screening work time and again, sometimes over the course of several years.
 
2.  Pre-screen potential contractors.  Whether you’re talking to people you know, or you want to call the contractor directly, there are several things you should ask before entering into an agreement:
                How long has the contractor been in business?
                Is the contractor bonded and insured?
                Is the contractor licensed and certified?
                Will you get a detailed and written estimate?
Does the contractor do a good job of keeping customers informed of how a job is progressing, or is the contractor hard to get in touch with most of the time?
 
You should also ask for three references of jobs the contractor has done that are similar in nature to the type of work you’re looking to have done.  Make sure you call the references and quiz them on reliability, quality and timeliness of work, staying within a budget and areas that are specific to your situation.
 
3.  Get estimates.  After you have determined the work you want to have done, just like any other major purchase, you should get estimates from at least three contractors.  These estimates will detail material and labor costs, time frames for completion, permit costs and other specific work items that will be unique to your job.
 
It’s important to note that the lowest estimate isn’t always the best estimate.  An outstanding track record, rock solid references and stability are crucial elements for you to consider as well before making a final decision on which contractor you will work with.  You are not just hiring a company, you are entering into a relationship with someone who will be working on your home or business, so it is important that you feel comfortable with the contractor as part of your decision-making process.
 
Require the contractor to provide proof of bonding, insurance, licenses and certifications as part of the written estimate.  You do not want to be responsible for any injuries or damage to your home.   
 
4.  Get it in writing!  After you choose an electrical contractor you want to work with, ALWAYS get a final agreement in writing.  Every job is different, so there really is no standardized agreement that works in all cases.  The important thing is to take your time, pay attention to details and make sure you are comfortable with everything that is in writing before you sign the document.