If you don’t know anything about commercial or residential electrics yourself, then hiring a professional will be necessary, but can also be a surprisingly tricky task. If you know much about the problem you’re having yourself, you’re putting your trust in someone to give you a reasonable quote and find the best way to fix the issue. You also need to know the best type of electrician you need for the job you have, what qualifications to look for, and how to tell the good from the bad.
Commercial vs. residential electricians
Depending on the property you need working on, you’ll first decide if you need a residential or commercial electrician. Large-scale commercial properties like large office buildings, factories, or resorts will use far more electricity and have different regulations to meet when compared to your home. Commercial electricians will generally work jobs such as installing elaborate security systems, fire protection, and other large electric systems in offices and stores. Residential electricians will specialize in homes such as installing new wiring, lighting, and power outlets. Different skills, tools, and materials are needed for each.
You may hire a residential electrician for a full house to rewire, install fans or lights, add an outdoor or indoor light, or replace outlets. On the other hand, commercial electricians will be working jobs like repairing equipment, repairing or installing generators, updating security systems, wiring commercial buildings, and installing surge protection.
When should you hire an electrician?
It’s often best to find an electrician before you need one, as the process of finding someone you trust to get the job done can take some time. If you have an emergency, you don’t want to be in a situation where you have no one to contact and have to find someone quickly, as you may not have time to go through the necessary vetting process. Getting an electrician under pressure may result in someone doing a poor job, leading you to need to have the job done again, costing valuable time and money.
What you need to know when you call an electrician
If you have an issue or need an electrician to inspect a property or commercial building, what information should you have before you start to reach out? The first thing is to have a clear brief of the job, such as “I’d like to install three new lights” or “I need a security system installed in my office.” Having this overview of the job will help ensure that the quotes you get are consistent and that the job’s estimated cost is as accurate as possible. It’s also worth telling the electrician how many volts are needed to power the appliance you’re having installed, and let them know where the circuit breaker is, if possible.
What an electrician won’t do
Electricians will generally do as much as they need to get the job done. This may involve removing some wall, for example, to get to the necessary wiring, and while they will take down the wall with your permission, they most likely won’t patch it back up again. You should speak to your electrician to understand what needs to be done to complete the job, and determine if you need another tradesman to assist.
What questions should you ask an electrician?
Before you hire an electrician, ask them a few questions to get all the information you need, such as how long the job will take and how many people will be working on the job. Before any work starts, ask for a full breakdown of what they intend to do and how they will do it to make sure that you don’t get any surprises when an entire team appears at your house, or you find that the work will take a full week rather than a day. By getting information about how the job will be done, you’ll also prepare for additional work, such as getting holes filled or redecorating around a socket. You may need to set aside some supplemental budget to cover these extra tasks.
Also, you may want to ask the following:
What licenses and certifications do you have?
How much drilling will be done, if any?
Will you be working both indoors and outdoors?
How many people will be working on the job?
Do I need to be there when the job is finished?
Will the weather impact how long the job will take?
Do you need any additional parts to get the job done? Will this change the timeline?
How long will the work take?
What’s the best way to find an electrician?
One of the best ways to find a tradesperson of any kind is through referral, so asking friends and family if they have used a good electrician recently is an excellent place to start. Take some time to search online for an electrician with good reviews, which is an open forum, and take many positive reviews as a good sign.
How to vet an electrician
If you’ve found one or more electricians through either referral or your research, you should still vet them before signing a contract or agreeing on anything. The first thing to discuss is their areas of expertise, as they may be well-qualified for some types of jobs, but less so for what you’re looking for. At the very least, make sure that they are a licensed electrician and insured for the job, ideally seeing proof of both of these before you start. It would be best if you also double-check references and review websites to ensure there are no complaints about the person or company.
How much should you pay?
The nature of the job and the area you live will significantly impact the amount you’ll be quoted for a job, but residential electricians generally charge $50 – $100 p/h. It’s recommended that you get at least two or three quotes for larger jobs and compare how much each electrician asks. A quote that seems exceptionally high or low should be scrutinized, as this may be a red flag.