Choosing an Electrician
This is a great subject to discuss as there are many different electricians to choose from. It can, therefore, be hard to decide which one to choose. I thought that it would be a great way to end this guide. Here are some points to consider in your search for the right electrician for you.
Someone once said, “You only have one opportunity to make a first impression.” That is true in this case. If you are using the internet to find an electrician, as most people do, start with a simple Google search to see who is nearby.
When you are looking through the electricians that you find, ask yourself:
- Are their websites up to date and informative
- When you email or call, do they respond quickly or make you wait?
- Do they have online reviews on websites like Houzz, Yelp, Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, or Facebook?
- Are they willing to give you previous customer referrals?
- Are they a full-service company or a one-man show?
- Do they do this kind of work regularly? Are they residential electricians
- Do they offer free estimates?
- Do they offer a warranty and what does the warranty cover?
- Do they carry insurance?
Do Your Research
This can’t be overstated. I’m sure before you buy something on Amazon, you do some research. This could include reading a few reviews, Googling the product or asking if your friends have tried it. The same can be done here. With websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Houzz, HomeAdvisor, Facebook, and many others, there is a very good chance that the contractor you found, has some reviews out there somewhere. It’s just a matter of you finding them.
Now, are reviews a be-all-end-all? No, of course not. However, they can give you a sense of what to expect. If the contractor you are researching has 30 reviews across all the different sites, and only a handful are good, be careful. If you still want to use this contractor, I would get some referrals from past customers.
You may find that many of the electricians around you are still stuck in the 1990s, without websites or a good web presence. This will, of course, make finding them difficult. They will probably come from a word-of-mouth referral. It is very important to do your due diligence and to ask for past customer feedback.
Clear Scope of Work
Some electricians will purposely give vague estimate scopes, then hit the customer with change orders (extras!) during the job. When the estimate is vague, it makes it nearly impossible to compare. Let’s take a look at the following example.
Vague estimate –
Replace all the knob and tube wiring
– If you were given that estimate you certainly assume ALL knob and tube wiring will be replaced. But where is it? What happens if more knob and tube is found? Or less work is needed? Confusing, right?
Clear Scope of Work Estimate –
Replace all knob and tube wiring including:
- 1 Switch and 1 Light
- 3 Outlets
- 2 Outlets
- Circuits to power above:
- 2 – 15amp arc-fault circuits
You can see the difference. If you were given this clear estimate and another outlet was required to be rewired in the guest bedroom, you could refer to it in the original estimate. It would be 100% clear to both the customer and contractor.
You would think this is all very obvious. I recently performed a knob and tube inspection where the customer was planning to insulate their home and needed the sign off for mass-save. The customer was under the impression that all the knob and tube wiring was replaced throughout the home. They hired an electrician prior to moving into the home to replace the wiring. I started looking around and found some knob and tube wiring in the usual spots. The customer was outraged and pulled out the estimate/invoice provided by the previous electrician. The estimate said “Replace knob and tube wiring”. No additional details were provided. This customer called the electrician to find out why all the knob and tube was not removed. He said, “yea I removed it in the basement only, that’s what I meant by the estimate!”
The electrician 100% stood by the statement saying he never thought they wanted it removed from the entire house. Just the unfinished basement! Which of course is the easiest part of the job. The electrician chalked it up to a misunderstanding, a very expensive misunderstanding!
So because of a vague estimate, this customer was, for a lack of a better term, screwed!
Hiring an Electrician Checklist
Here is my checklist for hiring an electrician.
• First impression
• Are they primarily residential electricians?
• Professional Website
• Internet-based reviews
• Do they respond quickly to emails?
• Does someone answer the phone when you call, or get right back to you, if after hours?
• Do they have a physical location you can visit (not their house)?
• Are they full-service or one-man show, or something in-between?
• Did they present a clear / easy to follow estimate?
• Do they work with contracts?
• Do they offer financing?
• Do they offer a warranty? What does it cover and for how long?
Please use the bullet points above to help find a reputable electrician. Things like the one-man show vs. full service may not matter, as long as they are doing the other things right. The most critical items here are responsiveness, contracts, clear estimates, reputation and warranty.