Hiring any sort of contractor to do work in your home can be a harrowing process. After all, there are plenty of horror stories about technicians that will leave a project half-finished and abscond with your money, or fail to follow codes and leave you with shoddy workmanship. But this is the exception rather than the rule. There are also plenty of upstanding businesses prepared to give you the in-home service you require at a fair price. Still, having someone working in your home is no walk in the park. It can disrupt your whole life and end up being very uncomfortable if you select the wrong person. So here are a just a few things you’ll definitely want to consider before you hire an electrical contractor to work on your home.
- Referrals. The first and best step to take when it comes to finding a suitable technician is to ask for trusted referrals. Your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and other trusted sources won’t purposely steer you wrong when it comes to finding a suitable vendor for the work you need done. They’ll tell you exactly what they think about the contractors they’ve used, letting you know which ones did amazing work and which are best avoided. That said, you’ll still want to consult with several different electrical contractors. Your situation may require something that your friend’s contractor simply isn’t qualified to handle, or your personalities may clash. The point is that you want options.
- Experience. When it comes to any type of contractor, and especially electrical, experience is an essential part of the hiring process. You want to find someone who has a long-term, established business in your area and who has plenty of practical know-how as a result. This will ensure the best chances for fixing your electrical problems, and you can bet that someone who’s been around for a while has knowledge of legal issues like city codes pertaining to his field.
- Cost. Since issues with your electrical system could lead to very serious consequences if not addressed (electrocution, fire, etc.), you’re going to have to shell out the money to have them fixed, and it could cost you a pretty penny. That said, there are two separate costs associated with any type of contracting job: materials and labor. Materials have a set cost, although a good contractor has deals in place with vendors to get the lowest prices. Labor, on the other hand, could be a negotiable cost. So when you get bids from contractors, don’t hesitate to use them as leverage. A lower price from one technician could help you to bargain for a better price with the vendor you prefer.
- Gut feeling. It’s important that you feel you can communicate with your electrical contractor. This means you feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns and that he answers to your satisfaction and returns your calls in a timely manner. That said, no matter how much you like your electrician you need to get a contract for work that spells out cost and timeline for the project.
- Licensing and bonding. Every state requires electricians to be licensed (although bonding is another issue). Most will have to complete some type of training and pass the state board exams in order to become licensed, although from there they may be certified in any number of additional skills, such as NATE certified AC repair. You’ll want to make sure, however, that your electrical contractor is not only licensed to work in your state (you are well within your rights to ask for documentation), but also that he is bonded, absolving you of liability should he (or his subcontractors) be injured during the course of your project.