Do you need a receptacle replaced? Do you need to upgrade your panel? Don’t call your cousin. Don’t call your neighbor. You need to call an electrician. But before you jump on the phone, I have a few tips to point out to you.
I have run across a lot of bad electrical work. Cheapest is not usually the best. When your friends talk about the contractor that they used and how great he was, that’s a referral. That’s word of mouth. That’s telling someone good things about that contractor that you had an experience with on your home. Have you had an electrical horror story happen to you at your house?
Bad Electrical Work
I hate to say it but there’s a lot of bad electrical work out there. I’ve seen
- wires without straps
- wires used in exterior that was not supposed to be used in the exterior work
- boxes wired hap-hazard
- things not strapped on
- straps not on the pipes
- and much more
I’ve seen things floating in the air that are completely dangerous. But the homeowner is not aware of bad work. Just think about this: a homeowner hires an electrical contractor that does shoddy work and the homeowner is not aware of it. Now, I realize that homeowners do not know code so they are not aware of what’s good and what’s not.
How can you find out if one contractor is better than another one? A good tip would be to ask the local inspectors. The inspectors inspect their work all the time know who’s doing good work and who’s doing bad work. The thing is they are not supposed to refer any contractor to a homeowner. It’s illegal for them to show preferences to individual contractors. They won’t endorse anyone publicly, but they do it all the time privately. Also, you might also ask former inspectors. But many of them have gone back into the private sector so they won’t tell you about their competition.
Electrical Price Shopping
If you’re price shopping, you shouldn’t just worry about price. Quality should be considered first. Ask your electrician if he is going to back up his work. Will he be around for a while? How long has he been in business? How long has he lived in your area? Is he going to be there for you if you have a problem? Does he have insurance to back up the work that he’s done? Is he capable of doing the job? Does he have anybody that can tell you about his work? Does he have any references? Is electrical safety at the top of his list?
Many homeowners are not worried about this. They want to look through the phone book and pick A, B, C, D, and E. The first one that shows up and gives the homeowner the cheapest price is the person they hire. After all, they are all licensed electricians, right? One contractor asked me if the job I was bidding on would be up to code. When I said yes, he said that’s all he is worried about. He was only interested in price too. But then he would get more money in his pocket.
Let me tell you a secret. A lot of maintenance and repairs do not follow code because they don’t have to. They are getting away with it by doing it cheap and cutting corners. Believe me, there is a difference. If you are price shopping and if you feel that that is the best way to get an electrician, then God help you.
Know Your Electrician
Before you hire an electrician, you have to look at his work. You have to build a relationship. He shouldn’t mind coming back to your job if he’s needed. If you know your contractor, he will be more prone to perform your emergencies for less because he knows you. You are a regular customer. But if you let your fingers do the shopping in the yellow pages, guess what, you will be price gouged – and probably more than once.
So homeowners need to look for alternatives. Ask your neighbors for recommendations. Word of mouth is the best way to find out about an electrical contractor. If possible, go see their work. That was one of my biggest sellers at one time. I used to ask customers to go look at my work and compare apples to apples. Some homeowners only compare prices or the bottom line. That’s not a good comparison. Before you hire an electrician, keep in mind these tips and maybe you won’t get ripped off. What electrical horror story happen to you on your house?