When homeowners are selling their house, the Realtor will ask if you have had any upgrades or changes to the original house. The Realtor will ask you which licensed contractor you used. For instance, I installed a generator for a homeowner. The inspector noted that she needed some electrical things taken care of outside of the generator. The inspector knew of me and my work and he recommended me to the homeowner. She called me back to do the additional work. They asked for a price. They got a fair job for a fair price. She knew how to hire a contractor.
As a homeowner, how do you know what contractors to hire?
How To Hire A Contractor
First: referrals or word of mouth. If a homeowner used a contractor and are happy with the job then they can refer out. People talk – at BBQ s, birthday parties and Sunday socials – whether good or bad, people talk. Word gets around about how you did or didn’t do a job to their liking.
Second: price. Price can also be a good indicator of how you hire a contractor. This is one of the biggest misconceptions that people use to make a sound decision on what they want to do. A sound decision isn’t on price alone. Not that I’m saying to go with the highest price because that’s not necessarily true. Higher is not necessarily better. I’ve run across some individuals that were doing electrical work that were not electrical contractors at all. They were scabs, DIY, or do-it-all, that are not licensed, and that did the work for a higher price than a licensed electrician could have done the job. I asked one customer what they charged and he said twice as much as contractors would charge.
Do you know the background on who you are hiring? Was he referred by another homeowner? It is an honor to get $60 to $70 an hour here in Louisiana. Actually, every other contractor gets higher, such as a plumber or mechanical (AC) contractor. An appliance repair man wanted to charge my wife over $110 just to come out and not to repair the appliance.
If you are expecting to pay $30 an hour for a contractor, think again. You are back in the 1930’s. Your ideas are gone. You need a licensed professional that works for you that has moneys tied up in gas and insurance. An electrical contractor has normal charges he must pay for such as commercial insurance and licenses that protects you as a customer.
How To Hire A Contractor: Licensed
Remember, because he is licensed, doesn’t mean he knows everything about everything. Some contractors are privy to particular jobs. Some contractors are masters where they know a good bit of everything: from generators on down to receptacles, from control boards to a switch, from commercial industrial usage to residential. Sometimes a contractor is not qualified to do everything they think they can. For instance, not every electrical contractor automatically knows everything about standby generators. Generators are specific equipment that needs specific knowledge to do repairs, maintenance and installations on them.
Most electricians are not familiar with programming PLC controls. That is usually done by a programmer. But electricians that are familiar with some controls and have been trained as a qualified technician can do some small programming jobs.
When solar came to Louisiana, solar had to have individual electrical qualifications for its installation, things that electricians do. But everybody and their brother were trying to do solar installations. They were trying to do the same jobs that electricians had been doing for years.
How To Hire A Contractor: A Professional
Licensed contractors are not all created the same.
Contractors can’t gouge people because that gets around. You won’t get other jobs from it because people talk. So, think about it: $65 an hour is not gauging. It’s really, really cheap these days for a state licensed contractor that needs to cover:
- insurance – liability and workman’s compensation
- license fees for state license
- the permits for the job on your house
- gas/diesel for vehicle
Think about what’s involved with your job. Is it cheap for us to go to the supply house or building supply store to track down parts you need to complete your job? Materials are almost 2/3 of the job most of the time. And the materials available on the market are junk from China. We have to deal with junk, make it work and bring it up to code.
I don’t care what people think. If you hire a professional, you get a professional. Do you know how to hire a contractor?