Picking a good electrician is critical to how you can keep your house, office, warehouse or manufacturing facility safe from electrical fires and shocks, keep bills to a minimum and enhance your green footprint.
Here are some questions you need to ask before signing up an electrician.
When considering an electrician.
Ask them for their license.
It’s mandatory in Australia for professionals like electricians to have an A Grade electrical license and be a registered electrical contractor. Different specialisations and levels of expertise have different licenses. A valid license ensures that your premises – whether residential, commercial or industrial – are in safe hands. You can know about various electricians’ licenses in Victoria State here: http://www.esv.vic.gov.au/licensing-coes/electrical-licences/.
Ask about experience and expertise.
Like in any other job, electricians gain more experience in one kind of job over others. For example, some electricians may specialise in doing maintenance and fault finding of electrical work, others may specialise in new homes, solar or home-automation. In an industrial or commercial setting, this may get even more complex, such as wiring data centres or setting up a back-up power plant.
Ask who’s doing the work.
If you’re dealing with a contractor, you want to know who it is who will finally work on your premises, what their qualifications and licenses are. If a specialist is assigned to you, their charges will be different.
Ask your electrician if they’re insured.
Electric work carries its risks, so it’s best to work with those who have the right kind (and amount) of insurance. Check if your electrical contractor has cover worth $5,000,000AUD to pay for liabilities and workers’ compensation.
Ask if they’re licensed to offer specialised services.
For some residential needs, special workers will be called for (work involving solar, or air-conditioning.).
Ask them for references. If possible, ask to view a previous job.
There’s no way you have of judging an electrician’s work before you hire them. But you can ask for references of previous jobs; a good electrician should give you one readily. If possible, ask to see the premises where they have worked previously (or is working currently). Neat installation of switches, cables anchored firmly and regularly – these are signs that your contractor is professional and reliable.
Negotiating for a job or contract
Ask for a fixed appointment.
‘Next week’ is not a good answer. A good electrician will know their schedule and give a firm date.
Ask them how they charge.
Charging by the hour might be an incentive for an electrical contractor to slack it – but fast work doesn’t necessarily mean it is good. Rates can differ depending on whether the work is at a residential or commercial place. You might find it easier to go with an electrician or contractor who charges by the job – irrespective of how long it takes.
Ask for an itemised estimate.
There will be things your electrician will need to buy (or get you to buy for them). There may be non-electrical work you may have to do after the job is done. It’s best to know in advance.
Ask about warranty policies and a certificate of electrical safety.
Upon any electrical work, the electrician MUST issue a certificate of electrical safety. This will cover you in the event of an electrical fire. Once issued, this will protect the safety side of the electrical work for up to 7 years. Electrical contractors will usually offer you a warranty or guarantee of six months or a year, depending on the service required. Some electrical contractors even provide a lifetime guarantee on their labour!
Ask if the job needs permits.
Some jobs require pre-clearance from authorities or inspection by the council once the work is done. This is important – it helps to safeguard your property; your insurer will demand it in case of an accident. Most electricians can usually arrange them without causing you hassles.