Selecting An Electrician: Key Questions to Ask

Any electrician unwilling to patiently undergo a complete interview with a homeowner about the proposed service probably shouldn’t be hired. Here’s a handy starting point for the grilling

DENVER, CO – Hiring any professional service provider for your home can be fraught with peril. Whether it’s a plumber, a roofer, floor covering specialist, remodeler or an electrician, it’s difficult to know if they have the experience to handle the job. They will all, of course, profess to having the chops to do what you require “expertly and cost-effectively,” but the fact is that most homeowners aren’t generally equipped with enough knowledge on complex home improvement and maintenance procedures to go beyond the sales pitch or the Yellow Pages advertisement hyperbole.

Here at Allstar Electrical Services we have the sales pitch and the Yellow Pages ads, and we profess to having the top professional, licensed electricians, the best pricing and unparalleled customer service, but how would you know? We compiled this handy list of Key Questions to Ask when selecting an electrical services provider to get you started on the right path.

If you are building a new home, remodeling an existing one, adding major appliances like a hot tub, entertainment home theater, or simply need to upgrade your electrical service to stay current with the modern demand for electricity, a qualified professional electrician is essential. Dig deep in your research and you’ll find an electrician that can handle all of your home electrical needs, large and small, for years to come.

Here are the Key Questions to Ask An Electrician:
•    Are you licensed in this state and, where applicable, with the local city and county? Are all members of the team that will perform my work so licensed? You can ask for license numbers and check with the state and local electrician licensing boards to verify that the licenses are up-to-date; in some jurisdictions you can also find out if there have been any complaints filed against the electrician or the electrical company and how they were resolved. Often, members of the team working at your home may be apprentices, but they should be working under the direction of a licensed, journeyman electrician. Also, most localities, but not all, require that licensure adhere to the standards of the National Electrical Code, which is updated regularly and requires continuing education. Verify that you electrician practices within NEC standards and is current.
•    Are you listed and in good standing with the local Better Business Bureau? This information can also be verified, and most BBBs keep great records on complaints and resolution histories.
•    Are you insured? Make sure the electrician is insured, that the policy is current, and check its value and what it covers. Electrical contractors should carry at least $500,000 in liability coverage and workers’ compensation coverage.
•    Have you performed work of this nature before and how often? Do you have references from customers? If you are building a new home, remodeling or making extensive electrical changes, you want to be sure this electrician/company has performed similar work (big house, outdoor wiring, home theater, etc.). Get the references, call those people and be willing to act as a reference once the work is completed to your satisfaction.
•    Will I need a permit? Most localities require a permit and a subsequent inspection on any electrical work beyond minor maintenance, and most electricians will pull and post the required permits for you. Make sure this is done in compliance with local rules, because if it isn’t you may have to start over and could face a fine.
•    Will you provide a detailed estimate or cost quote for the work contracted? In most cases, electricians will provide a hard quote for the services to be provided, however additional issues may be found as the work progresses, particularly in older homes. These additional costs should be discussed with the homeowner before that work commences so there are no hidden “surprise” costs at billing time.
•    How long will this work take and what disruption of electrical service, and when, will I experience? This is an important question: on a new-build or remodel, the work performed by the electrician may have to be done before the builder or another subcontractor moves on to the next step in the construction; make sure you electrician understands the schedule and will promise, in writing, to meet the deadlines (of course, keep in mind that building schedules can be delayed by other vendors, weather, parts suppliers, etc.). Disruption of electrical service for any length of time may require a homeowner to make other shelter arrangements; planning ahead will help.
•    Will I need to have my electrical panel replaced? This is generally the panel containing the circuit breakers. Most codes require the panel to be at least a 100 amp service, however most new homes these days have a 200-amp service. This can be one of the most expensive jobs an electrician performs, but adequate service is essential in modern homes with a high degree of electrical devices and demands.
•    If my service panel is replaced will I need to rewire my home? Except for some very older homes where the electrical service hasn’t been updated in decades, the need to rewire an entire home is usually not an issue. However, if you are adding new electrical devices or more receptacles, additional wiring may be required in certain rooms.
•    Is my home’s electrical system adequately grounded? Proper grounding is important not only to protect against an electrical fault or short-circuit, but also as protection for expensive electronic equipment and appliances. A professional electrician will address this grounding issue as a matter of course, but it’s a good question to ask to insure your vendor fully understands his/her craft.
•    Am I allowed to see the work in progress? It is difficult for the average homeowner to understand or recognize quality work or substandard workmanship, but suffice to say that quality work is generally neat and tidy, with no exposed wires.
•    Do you guarantee your work and for how long? Any reputable electrician will offer a complete guarantee of their work for at least a year and sometimes longer. Check the company’s guarantee policy and when checking on the BBB status make sure to check any issues involving guarantees.

This is a lot of questions, and that’s a good thing: any electrician unwilling to patiently undergo a complete interview with a homeowner before contracting for the work probably shouldn’t be hired. You are trusting the safety of your home and the lifestyle of your family to the electrical work performed, so it is wise to take the time to go beyond the sales pitch and the advertising hyperbole. Besides, you should also be comfortable with a vendor in your home and such an interview will go a long way in providing peace of mind.

For all of your electrical needs, from minor repairs to major installations, give the licensed professional electricians at Allstar Electrical Services a call at 303-399-7420 or visit us online at www.allstarelectrical.com. We don’t mind being grilled at all.