Electricians are highly skilled tradespeople who install and maintain the wiring and equipment that delivers and regulates the electrical service to your home. Most electricians begin their careers as apprentices and work their way up the ladder through a combination of class learning and hands-on experience. In the majority of states working electricians must be either licensed or certified.
Residential services provided by electricians range from things as simple as hanging a ceiling fan or moving an outlet, to adding new circuit breakers to support outdoor lighting or swimming pools, to completely rewiring outdated homes to bring them up to code. A few electricians who are cross-trained in the construction trades will also perform limited demolition and construction - such as that required when replacing existing fixtures with recessed lighting - and install sheet rock or plaster to restore the damaged areas to "ready to paint" condition, although this varies by contractor. While many homeowners find a "DIY" approach to remodeling a cost-effective alternative to hiring professionals, electricity is dangerous and faulty wiring is a leading cause of fires. Always use trained and licensed electricians for major electrical home improvements.Choosing an Electrician
If your project is a large one - a room addition or complete kitchen remodel, for example - the electrician will probably be a subcontractor hired by your general contractor or architect. If your project is a smaller one, or you are doing it yourself, you will have to hire an electrician on your own. Here are a few suggestions to get started.Make a Plan
Most construction cost overruns and delays stem directly from changes made after work has already begun. A good rule of thumb: If you're not sure -- don't start. Knowing exactly what you want and where you want it will make it possible to get accurate estimates. Changing your mind about the layout of lighting, the choice of fixtures or the number of outlets after the plans are drawn will bust your budget and create headaches for you and your contractor.Get Estimates
The law requires that electrical contractors be licensed and carry insurance policies for both liability and workers' compensation. Be wary of contractors who do not willingly volunteer this information. Get several estimates at once by using this site and inform the contractors that you are doing so. Ask for references and pursue them. In general, most reputable bids should fall in the same price range. Estimates that are significantly lower than the others should raise a red flag. The contractor may intend to use substandard materials or other cost-cutting measures just to get the job. In the end, your choice of electrician will depend on many factors, including examples of their prior work, the scope of service, how well you are able to communicate your needs and concerns and of course your budget.Benefits
Homeowners can reap many benefits from hiring professional electricians, including:
- Experience. A skilled tradesman can quickly troubleshoot problems and see the easiest route to new additions. Electricians have the tools and expertise to pull wire through small spaces, limiting the damage to walls and ceilings. They're also willing to climb into your attic or crawl space if required, so you don't have to.
- Industry contacts. Licensed contractors know where to find the best pricing on wire and fixtures and often buy in bulk, which translates into savings for you.
- Professionalism. Experts get it right the first time. They ensure that any work done is up to code and can pull permits if necessary.
- Safety. An insured electrician protects you and your home in case of loss or damage.